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WILLIAM. Nothing, more than that it is sometimes called Mothering Sunday, from an ancient usage of visiting the Mother or Cathedral churches of the dioceses ; when voluntary offerings were made by the parishioners; which, by degrees, were settled into an annual composition, and gave rise to what is now termed Easter Offerings. But the 12th day of this month ought to demand the respectful recollections of every Englishman, it being consecrated to the memory of one who projected, and finally aceomplished, the conversion of our Saxon forefathers; and who is therefore styled, Gregory the Great, Apostle of England. He was a Roman by birth, and descended from a noble patrician family: Gadianus, his father, enjoyed the dignity of a senator, and was very wealthy. When young, Gregory applied himself to the study of grammar, rhetoric, and philosophy, and early became well skilled in the canons of the church. He was appointed to many civil dignities, but relinquished them for retirement in the monastery of St. Andrew, which he had founded. Pope Pelagius, however, induced him to become his secretary; and it was during this period that Gregory solicited permission to visit England, for the purpose of combating the heathenish doctrines then prevalent in the island : his propositions, however, were rejected, and he again retired to St. Andrew's. On the death of Pelagius, he was consecrated pope, when he put into execution his plan for the conversion of the ancient Britons. He deputed St. Augustine, with forty others, as mission, aries, to this island ; which act was held by him as the happiest of his life. He filled the office of pope, with great usefulness, for the space of fourteen years; when he died, sincerely lamented by all the religious of his time, in the year 604. His works, which are held in esteem, were first printed at Rome, in the year 1588. ANGELINA. We next come to St. Patrick, a person
I have often heard named, but of whose history I am quite. ignorant, except that he is considered the tutelar saint of Ireland, and held in great veneration by all good Hibernians. . A notice of so popular a character cannot but be interesting.
MR. CONSTANCE. You will no doubt be surprised to learn, that this man, held in such great esteem by the natives of Ireland, was a Scotchman by birth, and named Suceath. He was born in the year 371, in the neighbourhood of Kirkpatrick, near Dunbarton. He received the first rudiments of his education at the place of his nativity, and early displayed an ingenuous and amiable disposition.
Mr. Stanley. I thought he was understood to have been a Genoese Friar.
WILLIAM. There is some uncertainty as to his birthplace. The Irish, I believe, rather favour, the opinion of his having been a Friar from Genoa; and that he travelled on foot through Italy and France, from whence embarking, he arrived in England, and at length sailed from Portpatrick in Scotland, and landed at Donaghadee. Whilst others assert that at the age of sixteen he was carried into captivity by certain barbarians, together with many of his father's vassals, and taken to Ireland, where he suffered the greatest privations. .
Mr. Constance. It is not improbable, I think, that each may be right; for those who contend that he was carried in captivity to Ireland, acknowledge that he soon made his escape from that country, and travelled into Gaul and Italy; and did not make his appearance in Ireland again, until he had arrived at the age of fiftyfive or sixty years; during which period he studied intensely, and might, probably, have become a Genoese friar. However, if it were of greater consequence than it is, that we should ascertain his real birth-place,
we should find it a very difficult matter; therefore, what particulars you have gleaned, William, as to his character and acquirements, be pleased to communicate.
WILLIAM. All accounts concur in his having been a man of great ability, and extremely zealous in the cause he had espoused,—that of converting the rude inhabitants of Ireland to Christianity. He is said to have been sent upon this mission by Celestine, the sovereign pontiff of Rome, and succeeded in it so well, as to bring nearly all the inhabitants of the island to the Christian faith, without the martyrdom of a single follower, or the loss of any of those for whose salvation he had so strenuously exerted his noble faculties. He founded several bishoprics, and built many churches, and after making another journey or two to the Continent, he retired to the famous abbey of Saul, near Ulster, and passed the remainder of his well-spent life, dying at the age of one hundred and twenty, on the 17th of March, 493. His burial-place is as much disputed as that of his nativity; some asserting that he was interred at Glastonbury, in England, others, that he lies at Glasgow, in Scotland, and others, in the county of Down, in Ireland.
Maria. Like most of those reputed saints already noticed, I believe St. Patrick has the credit of having worked many miracles.
Mr. Constance, He has: but the most remarkable benefit he is said to have conferred upon Ireland, is that of having exterminated all venomous creatures; and although their absence has been more reasonably accounted for from its peculiar salubrity, yet his wonder-working power has been so credited, as still to have ascribed to it that extraordinary influence. ..
WILLIAM. Well, I should as readily believe that he had the power of conferring that important favour upon Ireland, as give credence to another miracle, which haş been almost as gravely stated, which is, that he once swam across the Shannon with his head under his arm.
A burst of laughter from every one in the room followed this declaration ; and it had such an effect upon the risibility of young Arthur, as to compel him to withdraw. When silence was obtained, Mr. Constance said
“The miracles attributed to these popular saints, are far too numerous, and of a nature too much out of the line of modern belief to be repeated ; indeed, they are gross, palpable, and impious falsehoods. Most of them, notwithstanding, have been published as truths, with the sanction of consors of the press, heads of religious orders, bishops, and inquisitors; and they remain, and for ever will remain, proofs of a system of imposture deliberately carried on by Romish priests. With respect to the festival of St. Patrick, it will be only necessary to add that every anniversary of his birthday is kept by Irishmen, in a similar manner to that of St. David by the Welsh, in acts of charity and hospitality. The emblem worn by the Irish is the shamrock, or trefoil, for which several reasons have been assigned: St. Patrick is said to have introduced it, by an allusion to it in exemplifying the docu trine of the Trinity; although it is more probable that the shamrock had long before been considered the national badge, but he being their adopted patron, and having thus elegantly and judiciously referred to it, was honoured by having it worn on his anniversary.”
WILLIAM. The circumstances of the death of young King Edward of the West Saxons, are no doubt familiar to you all. It is a tragical tale, which has often been related, and seldom without having excited feelings of pity for the innocent victim, and of indignation against the unnatural perpetrators.
MARIA. I cannot say I exactly recollect to what circumstances you allude, William.
WILLIAM. Indeed! Why, you surely remember the account given by Hume, in the History of England, how young King Edward, son of Edgar, who first united the heptarchy into one kingdom, was enjoying the sport of hunting in Dorsetshire, when, being led by the chase near the residence of his cruel and ambitious step-mother, Elfrida, he was stabbed in the back by her order, while drinking some liquor he had solicited.
MARIA. Oh yes, I do. The cruel Elfrida was desirous, I believe, of raising her own son to the throne, and had opposed the succession of Edward ; yet, notwithstanding this, he is said to have treated both her and his brother with affectionate attention.
MR. CONSTANCE. It is so recorded. The perpetration of the cruel deed, therefore, must be considered as doubly odious, committed, as it was, at the threshold of that door where he had called to pay his respects to the person whom he might justly have looked upon as his greatest enemy. Thus we see the dreadful effects of ambition and envious pride. And such was the abhorrence and detestation in which Elfrida was held by the people, that she received a severe punishment for her crime in their universal execrations; besides the dreadful remorse of a guilty conscience, which haunted her day and night. To atone for her guilt, Elfrida built many monasteries, and performed many acts of penance, but all could not restore her peace of mind; and she continued, to the end of her days, to be harassed by the most dreadful and agonizing apprehensions.
WILLIAM. Although the death of Edward was unconnected with any religious matter, his youth, innocence, and tragical death, excited such compassion among the people, that they believed miracles to be wrought at his tomb, and therefore gave him the appellation of Martyr. His death happened on the 18th of March, in the year