Industry of the Curate

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter VII (21) | Start of Chapter

A dinner was in waiting at Dr. Rafe's, and no one could have thought, when looking upon the table, that famine was raging without. On a beautiful site at Balinrobe, this indefatigable priest has leased a piece of thirty acres of land, at one shilling per acre, where he intends building a monastery for nuns and children of the poor. A curious stone stands upon the spot, and no manuscript has yet told its pedigree; but its lofty upright bearing says it is of noble origin.

The industry of this curate appears, if not supernatural, urged on by an irresistible impulse, almost unparalleled. Shall it be credited, that in thirteen weeks he converted a barren spot into a fine site for a chapel and glebe-house. After demolishing the old chapel, he built and finished them both in excellent taste. The wall, which surrounds a large handsome lawn before the house, is built of stone, which was quarried in one day, and the whole completed in three hours. The entire parish were invited to the chapel to hear mass at nine o'clock; then all were encouraged with having music and amusement to their hearts' content when the work should be finished. Eight hundred assembled. The curate assigned a certain portion to be erected by so many, and thus confusion was prevented—the work went orderly on. And this three hours' labor completed a wall inclosing the chapel and glebe-house, fringed upon the top in front with a peculiar kind of stone from the lake, which is jagged, porous, and black, and when struck, gives a sound like iron. The wall is whitewashed, the stones upon the top left black, adding an air of ornament to the whole. A young shrubbery is already looking up in the door-yard, giving to the lately barren waste bog an appearance "like a young garden, fresh and green."

These people, called Roman Catholics, certainly must astonish the Orthodox world by their untiring zeal for the good of the church in Ireland. With everything to oppose, they urge on their way; a government church forcing upon them restrictive laws very severe, and a laboring class of real paupers; with these drawbacks they build chapels, finish them well, and "through evil and through good report," nakedness and famine, they urge their way, erecting chapels in the midst almost of hetacombs of the slain! The curate was asked where he got money for all this; "Money was not wanted," was the answer. Seventy carts were in train drawing the stone when cut from the quarry. The stone was free—labor was free—and every parishioner performed his part cheerfully. The little money that was required for the trimmings the bishop supplied. The coarse trite saying of John Bunyan's imprisonment may be fitly applied to the government church in Ireland. A writer remarks, that "the devil run himself out in his own shoes when he put John Bunyan in jail."