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The private stills in the parish of Peltigo, being at that time innumerable, made whiskey cheap, which caused the people to be most shamefully addicted to drunkenness. The catholics, who were most numerous, were the most notoriously infamous for this vice; though the protestants, as they called themselves, were but little better. At burials in par. ticular, to which they flocked from all quarters, they drank most shame. fully. It was the custom then with them, as soon as the corpse was buried, to meet all in a field adjacent to the Church-yard; when twenty gallons of whiskey have been often drunk at such a meeting. When their blood was sufficiently heated by the spirits, they then, as might naturally be expected, began to box, and thus bruised and mangled each other dreadfully. Many have been killed at such riotous meetings, some by blows, some by whiskey.
Mr. Skellon strove with all his power to suppress this brutish practice. A sermon he preached to them on this subject is printed in his works, entitled "Woe to the Drunkard," which, had they the feelings of men, must have had an effect on them, especially when delivered by such a preacher as Mr. Skelton. Yet his advice and preaching produced, alas! this instance, but little reformation.'
In 1754 his two volumes of sermons were published by Andrew Millar, entitled Discourses Controversial and Practical on various subjects, proper for the consideration of the present times. By the Author of Deism revealed. To his first volume is prefixed a prefuce addressed to the Clergy of the Church of England, and to his second another, addressed to the Citizens of London. The corrupt and dangerous opinions that were then beginnicg to prevail he makes, in his first preface, his apology for publishing his controversial discourses. In his second, he expresses bis gratitude to the Citizens of London for their civilities to him, during the time he lived among them; and mentions, as I collect from his preface, that partly at the request of some of these, and partly to animate men, if possible, with some religious warmth, in this winter of Christianity, he offers his practical discourses to the public. To the preface of each volume he signs his name.
In these discourses there is abundance of good sense and original thought. He is no servile copier of others, but draws his arguments from Scripture and his own understanding, his picture of human motives and actions from a close observation of mankind. He read few sermons, he said, that those he wrote, might, if possible, be his own; and , few can more justly than his be styled the real property of their respective authors. Of these sermons innumerable passages might be quoted, at once striking and sublime. They are all animated with a warm and genuine piety, and an ardent desire for the salvation of men's souls. These sermons were remarkable for their orthodoxy ; some of them indeed were written on purpose to prove the doctrines of the Atonement and of the Trinity, which, he said, gave the utmost offence to the Reviewers. They quoted him, he observed, very unfairly, for they took a piece of a sentence in one part, and another piece in another, and then patching them up together, said, “this is nonsense.
Soon after his discourses were published, he told me, that some one' came into the present Marquis of L- 's rooms at Oxford, where he was then a student, and saw Skelton's discourses before him, which
caused him to ask, why he read sermons? He said, he happened to look into a sermon entitled the Cunning Man*, which engaged his atten-, tion, as the author was describing his father. Skelton said, he did not at that time know his father, who was a remarkably cunning man, and kept his son closely pinched at the university, which made him suppose that the character in the sermon alluded to him.
A farmer of the name of Carshore with whom he lodged, had a son who was blind. Mr. Skelton perceiving him to be a young man of extraordinary understanding, and surprizingly acquainted with the Scriptures, employed him to go through the parish during the winter, lo, instruct his people in religion, and in the summer examined them him, self, to know what benefit they had derived from his instruction. The methodists strove to bring him over to their opinions ; for they always · wish to deal with persons that have some natural defect, that the interposition of the spirit may be more apparent. But he had too much good sense to become a convert to their ridiculous opinions.
In 1757 a great dearth prevailed in Ireland ; the effects of which were felt most severely in the rough and barren lands of Peltigo. Mr. Skelton went out then into the country to discover the real state of his , poor, and travelled from cottage to cottage over mountains, rocks, and heath. He was a witness to many scenes of sorrow to which the gay world were insensible. He set off immediately for Ballyshannon to buy oatmeal for them, and brought thence with all speed as much as appeased the hunger of those who were in the severest distress, He also gave money to a person to go through the parish to distribute it among the most needy objects.
When he had thus afforded them present relief, he went to Ballyhayes in the county of Cavan, and brought thence oatmeal, which he could buy at a cheaper rate. He then set out through the country to see what subsistence the indigent people had in their wretched hovels, and used to count their number of children, that he might be a better judge of their necessities. To some he gave one peck, to others more according to their wants, and to those who could afford to pay a little, he allowed meal at about half value. He thus, like his great master, went about , doing good.
He and his servant, a man of prodigious strength, regulated Peltigo market on a Monday, standing among the meal-sacks, each of them with a huge club in his hand, and covered over with meal. They , were obliged, when the carriers were bringing the meal to Peltigo, to guard it with their clubs, as the people of the adjacent parishes strove to take it by force, and eat it themselves; in which, as hunger makes people desperate, they sometimes succeeded.
When he had procured some meal to supply the immediate wants of the necessitous, he sent to Drogheda for flax for them, and having it carried to Peltigo, bestowed on them in greater or less quantities, according to the number of people in a family that could spin. The yarn thus made was sold every market day, and the money it produced placed in his hands, as also the earnings of the men, in return for the
* The Reader will find this Sermon in Mr. Clapham's sclection, p. 365, t!ıc first Sermon for the second Sunday in Lent. Ee 2
meal and flax he gave them for the succeeding week ; but this far exceeded in value the pittance the women could earn by spinning, or the men by labour. He thus made them contribute by their industry to their own support. On those who were unable to work he bestowed meal sufficient for their subsistence; and with the money produced by the earnings of the people, and what he could scrape together of his own, he bought more meal and flax, and thus daily struve to preserve them.
For some time he was tolerably successful; but at last his money was nearly all spent, and yet he knew the dearth must continue many weeks more, until the new crop would relieve the poor. He was then very apprehensive, lest after keeping them alive so long, he should see them at last dying of hunger. This forced him to an expedient extremely unpleasant for a scholar excluded, as he was, from all civilized society. He resolved to sell his books, the companions of his solitude, and relieve his indigent parishioners with the money.
With this intent he sent them to Dublin to William Watson, the bookseller, in Capel-street, desiring him to dispose of them immediately; who, in compliance with his orders, advertised them for sale in the newspapers, But as buyers were tardy, and the wants of the poor very urgent, Mr. Watson bought them himself for eighty pounds, and instantly paid
Soon after the advertisement appeared in the news-papers, two ladies, who guessed at his reason for selling his books, sent him a fifty pound bill, requesting him to keep his books, and relieve his pour with the money. These ladies did not discover their names; but one of them was lady Barrymore, who gave twenty, and the other Miss Leslie, who gave thirty pounds. However, with expressions of gratitude, he told them, he had dedicated his books to God, and he must sell them. Consequently the contribution of the ladies, and the money he got for his books were both applied to the relief of the poor. This was a sacrifice to duty, of which no one can have an adequale idea, except a scholar, fond of reading, situated like Mr. Skelton, in a coarse barren country, among illiterate people, with a number of agreeable books, the only companions of his many solitary hours.
the exertions and extraordinary charities of this exemplary clergyman employed, in a time of. scarcity for the preservation of his poor parishioners. He was indeed as an Angel sent down from Heaven to visit them in their distress.
It is necessary to mention, that Mr. Watson sold a part of the books; those that remained, Mr. Skelton, when he could afford it, took from him at the price he sold them for, but insisted on paying interest for the sum they amounted to for the time Mr. Watson had them in his possession.
In 1759, the Bishop of Clogher, without any solicitation, removed him from Peltigo to Deocnish, a living in the county of Fermanagh, near Enniskillen, worth about f. 300 per annum. Thus by the kindness of the good Bishop he was brought' once more into civilized society, after continuing ten years in that rugged part 'of Ireland, where his virtues and charities will long be remembered.
The whole living was then divided into two parts, placed at some miles distant from each other. In one was the parish Church,
and in the other a chapel of ease. He usually preached in the chapel of ease, as it was only two miles distant from Enniskillen, and kept a cuiate in the parish Church. However he frequently exchanged with his curate, estending his care over the people in every part of his parish. In both Churches there was a large congregation, the Church of England men exceeding the Presbyterians in the proportion of at least three to one. In these Churches, Mr. Skelton had the sacrament administered once a month ; a regulation he thought expedient to make on account of the number of hearers.
His endeavours to instruct his people boti in public and private were equally strenuous now as before. The children he catechised as usual, and lectured on those occasions.
In 1763, Skelton with the rest of the established Clergy was forced to inake his escape to Dublin from the Oak-boys, who were then persecuting the Church , all his virtues not being able to secure him from those enemies to religion. He stayed in Dublin till he could rem turn to his parish with safety.
Being informed one evening that a Methodist preacher was declaiming in the streets with great vehemence, he kindly invitert the preacher to drink tea with him after preaching. The man came accompanied by all his followers, who pushed after him into the parlour to hear Mr. Skelton and him arguing. What commission, Sir, said Skelton, have you to preach the Gospel? A commission from above, replied the preacher. By whom were you ordained? By the Spirit, he answered. Well, Sir, suppose you have got the Spirit, as you say,
it is still necessary that you should be ordained by the laying on of hands, before you attempt to preach ; for you read in the Acts of the Apostles, The Holy Ghost said, separate me barnubus und Pa:ul, for the work whereunto I hape called them. And when they had fusted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. These, it is allowed, had already got the Spirit; but they were not permitted to go abroad to preach, till they were first ordained by the laying on of hands. Hence your preaching, without being ordained, is contrary to the practice of ihe Apostles. The man being confounded by this objection made his escape as fast as possible.
When he was arguing again with a Methodist preacher, he said to him, do you advise Presbyterians to go to meeting, and Church-people to go to Church ? Yes. Well then said he, your religion is not the same as St. Paul's, for he says-be ye all of one mind one with another.
(To be continued.)
MEMOIRS OF THE REV. THOMHS TOWNSON, D. D..
(Concluded from page 73.) HE read Isaac Walton's lives during his illness with a view no doubt
to trim his lamp and prepare for his Lord by comparing his conduct with the examples of those ineek and holy men described by the pleasing
In a very
and faithful Biographer. He also read, and assuredly with similar intentions, Mr. Herbert's Country Parson. Though it was winter and his friends pressed him to stay at home, he attended Church with very few intermissions. And on Easter Sunday the blessed emblems of the body and blood of his Redeemer were administered to him.
On the following Saturday he had a remarkably good night, and read prayers to his family with greater strength of voice than he had done for several days. He was extremely chearful. He gave his curate ' who had called on him, four guineas for a charitable subscription, with an injuuction to put his name down for half the sum only. This was the last deed of his life. For in less than an hour, as he was walking alone, he fell; and though he was not bruised by the fall, the concussion, and the cold (for it was in the open air) hurt him greatly. His breathing was difficult, and he dozed most part of the time,
He rose on Sunday morning April 15ih, at the usual hour, but his strength was not recruited. About eight o'clock in the evening he was assisted to bed and walked between two persons with some alertness. While the servant took off his clothes he fainted in the arms of his friend and it was feared life was no longer in him. But when he was laid in bed he revived. At the hour of prayers as it was judged he was too infirm to join in them, his friends withdrew to another room. On their return the laborious respiration had ceased; he breathed feebly but seemingly with perfect ease.
space he opened his eyes, and with a placid countenance looked stedfastly upwards best part of a minute. Then he closed his eyes, and in less than another had ceased breathing, but so calmly and gently, that the friend who stood nearest could not perceive his last breath.
Ten of the neighbouring clergy, those whom he loved and valued wbilst he lived, paid the last sad offices due to humanity. At the mournful solemnity crowds indulged their affection and their grief by a voluntary attendance and abundant tears; and the principal inhabitants put on the robe of sorrow to soothe their melancholy, and shew their regard. So is goodness honoured and lamented!
In his will he bequeathed to his friend and patron William Drake, Esq. £.100, to purchase books, and some Italian books to Lord Bagot
as a small token of his gratitude and esteem," and left also memorials . to other branches of the family. He left remembrances to his godchildren, and legacies to his distant relations; annuities to certain widows and poor neighbours, and legacies to all his servants. To Magdalen College of which he had been a fellow, £.100, and the like sum to each of the Societies for promoting and propagating the Christian religion. To the poor of Malpas £ 50, and the reversionary interest of £.500, S. S. Stock for educating young children, or other charitable purposes as the rectors for the time being should think best. He direct. ed certain books out of his library should be given to his friend Mr. Loveday. The rest of his property he bequeathed to his brother and sole executor John Townson, Esq. of Grays Inn.
Thus affection, piety and charity, conspicuous features in his life pcculiarly distinguished his final will and testament. It is supposed that out of an income of about £.800 a year he generally bestowed a fourth part, and sometimes half in deeds of beneficence. This revenue of