Charlotte Elizabeth.

Derry : a tale of the revolution of 1688 online

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for the truth's sake ; but individually, each can doubt-
less point to some bygone compliance, some treacherous
departure from the acknowledged standard of his faith,
and say, ' My sin has found me out.' "

At this moment the half-opened door was pushed
further back, and a most pitiable object presented her-
self. A woman, whose husband and two sons had already
fallen victims to disease and famine, reeled forward
clinging to her soiled and tattered garments were three
children, whose cries appeared to have overcome her
reason, for she stared around with looks of wild distrao



304 DERBY.

tion, repeatedly endeavouring to release herself from
tlieir grasp.

" Naughty mother ! naughty mother ! " screamed one
of the children, striking at her with his little fist in
furious passion.

"Mother's not naughty," cried another, beating down
the uplifted hand ; " poor mother couldn't help it."

This interference was vehemently resented by the first
speaker, who seemed scarcely four years old ; he dealt a
blow at his sister, and amid their redoubled cries of rage
and pain, the battle continued, each maintaining its
tenacious hold on the agonised parent.

The infant combatants were presently separated by
Bryan and his friends, who vainly strove to pacify them.
Their little bosoms seemed bursting with resentment and
despair, and it was long before an answer could be
obtained to the mild inquiries of their captors. At last
the girl, who had been placed by Morrison on his knee,
said, "Mother had a loaf, a beautiful loaf, that a kind
gentleman gave ; she dropped it, and a big boy snatched
it up, and ran away."

" Naughty mother wouldn't catch the boy," roared her
brother. The third child was too young to join in the ex-
planation.

The poor woman, who had sunk into a chair, clasped
her withered hands, exclaiming, "When will mercy come T'

"It will come," said the Lady, "when we cast our-
selves on it in utter self-despair." Then looking round
on the miserable objects that encompassed her, she
uttered, with a burst of anguish, " Hath the Lord for-
gotten to be gracious? hath he shut up his loving-
kindness in displeasure ? n



DERBY. 305

"Never ask such a question, my Lady," said Magrath f
who had entered ; "it's the first doubtful word that ever
come out of your mouth. Forgotten ! No, no, God
hasn't forgotten anything but our sins ; and doesn't He
say that He will remember them no more?" He then
drew from beneath his coat a wooden bowl, adding,
" Here 's a new dish just invented, that 's in great request
among us, enough to mess ye all." He glanced at tho
squalid children and their stupified mother, adding, as he
put down the provisions, with a look of deep feeling,
"When God sends mouths He will send meat."

The supply proved to be a composition of starch and
tallow, fried together a large quantity of the former
article having been found in a store. A respectable mei - -
chant, Mr James Cunningham, was induced to try
whether it might not be made available in the extremity
of famine. He found it not only eatable, but medicinal,
and gladly published the important discovery, which
became a means of saving many valuable lives. With
the greediness of young wolves did those poor babes
devour the portion joyfully raised to their livid lips;
and that sight, melting the mother into tears, relieved
her brain from its intolerable oppression. She also ate,
and, invoking blessings on that hospitable roof, departed
with her now laughing little ones.

In almost every house some spectacle of equal sufier-
ing might be witnessed : but while the strongest frame
lay fainting, and the most sanguine voice of hope died
into the silence of despair, even a whisper breathing the
hated word SURRENDER, rekindled in each sunken eye the
tire of indignant reproof, and " Never, never ! " was tho
imiversal response. The ministers sf religion, who had
u



30f> DERBY.

indefatigably fanned the steady blaze of self-devoting
zeal, redoubled their efforts as the time became more
awfully critical. Their exhortations varied, indeed, ac-
cording as the love of God or the pride of man ruled
in the teacher's heart ; but their object was the same,
and endurance unto death the unvarying topic of their
animated admonitions. On the twenty-seventh day of
July there was a general darkening of countenance, an
interchange of looks among those who had charge over
the public stores, that bespoke an approaching failure
of the last poor pittance : and by the governor's order,
an urgent invitation was circulated through the town for
all to assemble on the morrow at the cathedral, and with
united supplication to make known their request to God.
The Lady of M'Alister, reclining in her antique chair,
with folded hands and closed eyes, was placidly medi-
tating on the inscrutable ways of HIM whose path is in
the deep waters. She sensibly felt the loosening of those
cords which held her earthly tabernacle together, and
secretly resolved to waste as little of the city's scanty
provisions upon it as the vigilance of her attached house-
hold circle would allow. More than once she had baffled
the watchful anxiety of even Bryan ; but Magrath it was
still harder to elude, with such jealous care did he note
her reception of each providential supply. Neither could
her dignity overawe him ; for when, witli a semblance
of displeasure, she had demanded to be left alone over
her pittance, the poor fellow replied, with glistening
eyes, " And 1 ? ii go, my Lady, as soon as I 've seen the
morsel pass your lips. Sure, and what is it keeps the
life in poor old Shane, but the hope of looking you in the
(ace again 1 "



DKURY. 307

"Shane has a better hope, Magrath,> she answered,
but, touched by his evident distress, partook of what his
affectionate zeal had provided. On this evening no
inducement presented itself, for food there was none ;
and Bryan returned from an unsuccessful search, with
looks of deeper dejection than he had ever worn, and
seating himself opposite, silently gazed on the venerable
rain before him.

It was then that the summons reached them to join
tha morrow's solemnity ; and the Lady, aroused by the
welcome sound, said, " It is well : be the issue life or
death, in God's temple let us find it."

The silence of the grave reigned in Deny throughout
that solemn night, save only one unceasing sound the
:;rics of hungry children, unsupported by the high ro-
solve which nerved the adult population. Morning
arrived ; and at an early hour the ghastly apparitions of
that famished town were seen approaching from every
quarter to the house of prayer. In little more than the
space of a fortnight, the garrison had lost upwards of a
thousand men ; the mortality among other classes having
been proportionate. No marvel that death, become so
familiar to their daily and hourly view, seemed strJppc'l
of half its terrors : no marvel that the burying-ground,
crowded as it was with objects nearest and dearest to
their hearts, presented to many an inviting couch of
repose. They entered the cathedral, and, prostrate in
E Application, sought help of Him who alone is mighty to
save.

Walker preached : in a strain of sublime eloquence
he set before his drooping hearers the encouragements
of holy writ, shewing the marvellous interpositions by



308 DERBY.

which the Lord had of old maintained the right and the
cause of His oppressed people. He exhorted them to
trust, and not to be afraid : he recounted the extraordi-
nary instances of a peculiar providence which had been
remarked during the siege ; and, with a confidence that
infused new life into many a fainting heart, he predicted
a speedy realisation of their most sanguine hopes. He
exhorted, he prayed for, he blessed them with paternal
tenderness : and then, descending from the pulpit, he
mingled with the departing congregation, as slowly they
emerged from the sacred edifice.

In the burying-ground a pause was made, as by
general consent, each individual seeming disposed to
take one more survey of the beloved temple in which
they had been wont to meet their God, and of the
lowly resting-places where so many of their kindred
reclined far removed from the troubling of the wicked.
Leaning upon tombs and grave-stones, or upon each
other, for a momentary support, they gazed in solemn
silence on those objects long familiarised, but, by every
human probability, soon to be shut out for ever from
their view. Then might be seen the dilated eye, deep
sunk indeed within its socket, but still beaming forth
the high resolve of unsubdued devotion to their right-
eous cause, and fleshless lips, livid as those of a corpse,
compressed as though they would forcibly imprison the
struggling sigh of famishing distress. Walker, still
robed as in the pulpit, paced slowly among the scat-
tered groups, his gaunt frame and hollow cheek present-
ing a personification of suffering as acute as had been
undergone by any one. Arrived at an eminence, formed
by the recent interment of several bodies beneath one



DERRY. 309

mound, lie looked for a moment at the crimson flag,
whose folds fell languidly over the battlements of the
church tower, then cast his eye around upon the patient
sufferers, who met it with something approaching to a
Binile, so full of melancholy endurance, that his tears
well-nigh overflowed while once more addressing them in
the tones of soothing encouragement. " Nay, doubt not,
my faithful, my true-hearted fellow-Protestants : the
Lord has heard the Lord will assuredly answer the
united appeal of His poor perishing creatures. Doubt not,
for when did He reject the prayer of faith? when did"

A sound, sudden and strange, and wildly joyful,

came from the direction of the water-side : it produced
a singular effect upon the hearers, and occasioned, even
in Walker, a sensation of sucn choking emotion as cut

short his address. That sound dare they believe

it 1 had they heard it aright ? Yes, again it was re-
peated, and again the shout was raised; and again in
articulate words was the transporting intelligence borne
to their ears. " The fleet, the fleet approaches ! The
ships are in the Lough ! "

It was as in a death-struggle that the greater number
of those emaciated beings rushed to the walls. Hus-
bands carried their dying wives, mothers their expiring
children ; and, by efforts that seemed supernatural, they
gained the height, to witness what to their eyes appeared
a celestial vision the broad sails of three stately vessels,
filled by a favouring gale, whitening upon the curling
waters, and steadily approaching, with the undoubted
purpose of anchoring beneath the walls. In the besiegers*
camp all was bustle : a desperate resistance would no
doubt be made ; and the boom that stretched across the



810 DERBY

Lough, menaced destruction to the coming deliverers.
The fort of Culmore was manned, and its batteries
opened with thundering fury upon the advancing ships j
while volleys of musketry from either bank poured upon
their sides. The fire was returned, and evidently with
considerable execution, upon the wretched instruments of
Romish aggression ; while, comparatively unharmed, the
gallant vessels made good their passage past the fort.

" The boom ! the boom ! " was breathed in gasps, and
whispers of unutterable agony, by the terribly interested
spectators on the walls. "Will they venture to pass?
Can they break it ? Oh NOW, NOW, OK NEVER ! God give
them resolution ! Still they approach ! " Such exclama-
tions burst from the parching lips that had so recently
moved in united pi-ayer ; while a party of the townsmen
mounted the cathedral, firing as a knell their minute
guns of distress, and combining the efforts of theit
trembling arms to wave the crimson flag, in mute yet
touching appeal to the hearts of their compassionate
deliverers.

The Mountjoy had taken the lead : her captain was a
native of Deny, and within its walls were his wife, his
children, and his friends. The boom was right before
her, and she swerved not ; but rising upon the flowing
tide, impelled by a lively breeze, she bore with all hei
force upon the sturdy barrier. It broke : alas ! the
shock was too severe for the vessel ; she recoiled, rolled
deeply in the waters, and striking into the shallow
stream, was instantly aground.

A shout, or rather a yell of rapturous exultation, re-
sounded from the hostile banks ; and boats were rapidly
pushed off for the purpose of boarding the Mountjoy ,



DERRY. 311

while a groan, a deep, low, scarcely uttered groan,
seemed to issue from the walls of Deny, with now and
then a shriek of woman's agony, re-echoed by terrified
children. There was a horror on the minds of those
devoted beings, compared with which all their preceding
sufferings seemed light and trifling : but there was also
many a prayerful spirit wrought into that iiitenseness of
supplication, which cannot fail of entering into the eai's
of the Lord God of Sabaoth.

The Mountjoy lay upon her side, seemingly a helpless
victim, within reach of the foe : but the stake for which
her captain fought was too precious to be trifled with.
He fixed an earnest gaae upon the crowded walls of
Derry, then raised his eyes to heaven as in passionate
appeal, and, drawing his sword, sprang forward to the
most commanding station upon deck, cheering his men
to a determined resistance. His shout was answered by
a general huzza from the crew, each gunner applying his
ignited match, and a tremendous broadside instantly
enveloped the combatants in a cloud of smoke.

This was indeed the climax of agonised expectation to
the gasping spectators, who clung to their rampart-walls
for that support which their own trembling knees refused
to yield. Mothers strained their infants as in the very
grasp of death, and joined their little hands together,
lifting them between their own in mute supplication.
Some were actually fainting under the conflict of hope
and terror ; not a few of whom had mounted the walls
by that strength alone which desperation gives, to sink
exhausted into the arms of bystanders somewhat less
enfeebled. And the voice of trembling affection was
heard in anxious whispers, imploring some loved one to



DERBY.

revive, and hope, and .pray for the issue of that fearful
hour. It was a scene to mock description : a reality
before which all the powers of imagination fade into
contemptible nothingness.

The few seconds that elapsed before that cloud of
smoke rolled away, leaving the Mountjoy once more
fully visible those few seconds seemed long indeed to
the breathless gazers. They passed, and the gallant ship
reappeared, not lying in stranded helplessness upon the
bank, but, majestically floating in deep water, she
ploughed the dancing tide right onwards towards the
town.

" That broadside saved her ! " shouted Walker. " She
has bounded from the shore she has passed the boom !
Derry and Victory ! "

Loud and long, varied and strange, were the sounds
that pealed from those invincible walls. The thunder-
ing shout of triumph again and again burst forth,
mingled with passionate cries of devout thanksgiving.
"Not \into us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy
name be the praise ! " M us the language of many a lip ;
wliile streaming eyes and outspread hands were raised
towards the dwelling-place of HIM to whom out of the
depths they had called, and from whom they had re-
ceived so gracious a reply.

" Hush, baby, hush ! " said the mother, while the
laughter of joy mingled with her agitated sobs ; " look
yonder at the pretty ships : they come like birds they
come like angels to us There is food for my baby
bread for my child meat, meat for us all. O God of
mercy, ever mindful of Thy covenant, Thou wilt open
Thy hand and fill us all with plenteousness ! "



DERBY. 313

Leaping from the walls, the men of Derry now has-
tened to throw wide the Ship-quay Gate, and in the
bustle of rapturous preparation they made all ready for
receiving their precious freight. The other ships had
fought their passage past Culmore, and followed the
Mountjoy, whose gallant captain had fallen in the moment
of success. A musket-ball had terminated his mortal
career, the last effective shot discharged by the baffled
foe.

Magrath had hastened to his favourite post, the bed-
side of Colonel Murray, whom he found in joyous exul-
tation, too great for language to express. A silent grasp
of the hand bespoke their mutual congratulations, and
then Magrath sat down, and, burying his face in his
palms, wept like a child.

" Many a stout heart has melted to-day, my lad," said
the colonel, after a short pause, " and I should not envy
the feelings of the man who could be ashamed to weep,
when he looks upon our living spectres, and thinks upon
our martyred dead."

" True for you, Colonel Murray; and the last soul that
passed hasn't left its fellow among us."

" Do you mean the gallant Browning?"

" No, sir ; I mean the Lady O'Neill."

"The Lady of M'Alister !" exclaimed Murray, almost
starting from his pillow ; and before Magrath could re-
sume, Bryan entered, with Morrison and Ross.

The smile with which M'Alister greeted his friend
met no response ; Murray's brow was contracted, and he
said, in a tone almost resentful, " Surely, surely, she
might have been spared to rejoice a while with us !"

" Ay, surely," said Morrison. " She is spared indeed;



314 DERBY.

spared all further conflict with a body of sin and death
spared to rejoice with us for ever."

" Don't teach me rebellion, dear colonel," said Bryan,
smiling through his tears ; " my own heart is ready
enough to prompt that lesson. The liberated saint whom
we would fain have kept a longer tenant in this dreary
dungeon lingered till our deliverance was certain. At
her own request, she was taken to the church-battery
where we were stationed ; and there, upon that hallowed
roof, she poured forth the supplications of a soul that
truly wrestled unto death for us and for our cause."

" When the minute guns of distress were fired," ob-
served Morrison, " she expressed her thankfulness that
even our engines of destruction had laid aside their cha-
racter, uttering only the voice of sorrowful entreaty."

" She called them a goodly passing knell," said Ross
" and, seeing that I both understood and felt her mean-
ing, she added, ' All, all is peace : full pardon, full salva-
tion, joy unspeakable, and full of glory !' "

" But the flag," said Magrath.

"Ay," rejoined M 'A lister, "we waved our flag, the
signal of distress, and reeled beneath its weight. She
gazed upon its crimson folds, and in a tone of holy
triumph ejaculated, ' Jehovah-nissi ! In thy name, O
Lord ! we first set up our banners : for Thy name's sake,
put to Thy hand, hear, behold, and save.' It was then
that BroAvning's vessel ran aground, and every shout
from the enemy, every cry from the walls, seemed to
infuse new energy into her prayers. Life was ebbing
fast away; I gave her my support, and strove to join
her fervent supplications ; but I think my head and
heart were failing together, for never did so fearful a



DESKY. 315

darkness overspread my soul as during that season of sus-
pense."

" It was not yourself only, Mr Bryan," said Magrath.
" Every man's face was changed and blackened as if by
a spell. Such looks were never seen among living men
as we beheld this day."

" And did she rally again ?" asked Murray, whose
interest appeared intense.

" Yes : when the ship gave that successful broadside,
she raised her head in earnest expectation ; and then the
shout, the clamorous joy, that told its glad result, came
pestling on our ears : our comrades on the battery ex-
claimed, 'She floats ! she floats !' and I raised my dying
charge, and bore her to the point from whence she might
descry the stately vessels bearing down in unimpeded
approach. She uttered a sound of joy, and, spreading
abroad her hands, exclaimed, ' Lord, I have lived to pray
I come to praise Thee!' Then she sunk back, breathed
the name of Jesus, and departed to abide with Him for
ever."

There was a pause of solemn silence, broken at last by
Magrath.

u There 's a rest and a glory, Colonel Murray, prepared
for the people of God a city where nothing can enter
that has not been washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Outside its gates is another place, and that place is hell.
'Tis an awful question to put, which dwelling is for us ?
That question was once put to me within these walls,
and it stuck like a barbed hook in my conscience, till God
gave me the peace that only He can give. The question is
here," he continued, drawing forth his beloved Irish Bible,
"and here, too, is the answer; and sorrow a sun that
may rise upon Larry Magrath shall set till he 's told both



31 6 DEKRY.

question and answer to the ignorant people of his own poor
country. Over mountain and bog I '11 bear this precious
Word this story of peace ; and many a knee that 's now-
bent in sinful worship before an image of wood or clay,
may learn to bow at the name of Jesus, knowing no hope
but in Him alone."

"You must not leave us, Magrath," said Murray,
anxiously ; " we owe you a debt that I will see paid.
Your fidelity, your zeal, your courage"

"Colonel Murray," interrupted the Irishman, rising,
and standing before him in collected dignity, " Colonel
Murray, you owe me no debt. The debt that was owing
is paid, but not by your hand. This," and he elevated
the IBISH BIBLE, and spoke with passionate feeling, " this
is the debt that you owe to every poor child of sorrow-
ful Erin. It 's a long debt, and it bears a fearful interest,
and woe to the Protestant who doesn't come forward to
pay his share of it ! You Ve made a resolute stand, and
God has prospered it : the dark hour is ended, and
yonder foes will be marching away by to-morrow's dawn :
but Papists defeated may rally again; they'll nurse the
red spark of hatred from father to son, till your children's
grandchildren may see the flame break out, the vengeance
of heaven to fan, and no power in man to quench it !"

"But, Magrath, wherein lies our security, if not in
Papists defeated ?"

" In Papists converted, sir," answered Magrath ener-
getically. "Take the word of a Papist who came hero
to destroy his friends, and now goes forth with no wish
but to save his enemies. You'll never enjoy the land
4 till you've conquered it ; you never will conquer it while
Popery reigns. You may build palaces, and dwell in



DERRT. 317

fenced cities, and laugh your enemies to scorn ; but there 's
that concealed under the cabin roof which all your
armies cannot overcome. You may hang, and shoot, and
persecute, but destroy it you cannot ; you may flatter,
and foster, and give it power, but your friend it will
never be. Popery is the curse of God upon a land ; and
nothing can remove it but the blessing of God, made
known iu the cjospel of Jesus Christ."



THE EXD.



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Online LibraryCharlotte ElizabethDerry : a tale of the revolution of 1688 → online text (page 22 of 23)