Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

only seven months. The living of Rincurran, adjoining Kinsale, was offered him by the Lord-Lieutenant. It was with great grief that he resolved to part from the parish in which he was so much beloved, but family circumstances seemed to make the change desirable. 'When Mr. Daunt went to the Castle to return thanks for his appointment, he was received with the greatest courtesy and kindness by Lord Carlisle. the close of the interview his Excellency said: "The only return I expect from you, Mr. Daunt, is, that when you are praying for the Lord-Lieutenant it shall be from the heart."'

At

The change from his town curacy to his sea-board pastorate was very great. Rincurran parish is a long irregular promontory, bounded on one side by Kinsale harbour, on the other by the Atlantic. It included several villages, inhabited chiefly by rough fisher-folk; and it was no easy task for the young Minister to awaken in such souls an interest in spiritual things. But he set to work with a will, and with much earnest prayer. Soon there came a wondrous change: the church had to be enlarged, and even then often on fine Sundays when seats and aisles were crowded, people 'sat down outside to hear what they could through the open door and windows.' It is said that not even when at the height of his popularity in Dublin and Cork was his eloquence so thrilling and impressive as in those days of faithful ministration to the rough parishioners of Rincurran. His fame was soon noised abroad, and many in search of rest and sea-air chose this neighbourhood, to whom the special attraction of the place was the preaching of Achilles Daunt.

At no

period, however, was he merely a popular Preacher. The schools had a large share of his attention; and Prayer-meetings and Mission-services, in the villages included in the parish, so absorbed his time that at first he

refused all relaxation. To the affectionate entreaties of his mother that he would allow himself occasional change and exercise in his favourite pursuit of boating, he replied: 'No, mother, while the souls under my care are perishing I have no time for amusement.'

His attention to the sick members of his flock was unremitting. There is a touching story of the life-long remorse which followed what many would think a pardonable fault. One night he sat up late studying, and retired to rest wearied out.

He

fell into a heavy sleep, from which he was only partially roused by the servant's knocking at the door and announcing that one of his parishioners was very bad.'

He

fell asleep again and did not wake for two hours, and then hurried to the house to find the man dead. Though he had visited and prayed with him twice the preceding day-the second time at nine p.m.-' he seemed almost beside himself' with shame and sorrow, and in his private journal he pours out his soul in agonized, penitential prayer for forgiveness and in promises of greater watchfulness in the future. How faithfully these vows were kept may be gathered from the following incident, related by a member of his family: 'I remember one evening, just as he was putting a spoonful of soup to his lips at dinner after an exhausting day's work, his wife said: "Did you get the message about Mr. ? " "What message?" he said. "They sent to ask you to come as soon as you possibly could." Instantly he started to his feet. "O! Achilles," she said, “you surely are not going into that dreadful fever-tainted room without some food. You have been there already to-day." "I have learnt too many lessons," he said, "about being late: I must go "; and rushed from the room. I never will forget his face, when he came back in about a

quarter of an hour, as it seemed to me. "He's dead," he said, as I went out into the hall to meet him; "he died while I was praying by his side."'

The souls of the children and young people in his parish were especially dear to him, and many hours were given to them. A touching story is told of his efforts to reclaim a wild, rude, dishonest girl of sixteen, whom he took into his own service as kitchen-maid that he might ensure her attendance at church and school, and might personally instruct her at family prayers. Again and again

her dishonesty, untruthfulness and insolence rendered her dismissal necessary, but the good Pastor was 'restless and unhappy' while he thought of her as given up to the evil influences that surrounded her; so she was again and again restored, though all but 'the master' had long since given her up as hopeless. At length the prayerful love which beareth all things' was rewarded. 'One night, after we had risen from our knees,' says his sister, Achilles called her to him and said: "Ellen, here is a present for you;" and, handing her a small sum of money, continued: "It makes me so happy to see you trying to be better." The poor creature burst into such a storm of sobs and tears that she was unable to speak. He and I looked on silently, until at last we could not refrain from mingling our tears with hers. "Ellen, what is the matter?" he said. "O! Sir, it's because I'm so wicked," she sobbed out. From that night, thank God, Ellen was won.' In a few weeks she died, almost her last words being the eager completion of a passage the master' was reading to her. As he read: 'These are they which came out of great tribulation," she looked up at him and cried: 'O! Sir, "and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."' In a few hours she had joined that whiterobed company.

The garrison at Charles Fort was also favoured with Mr. Daunt's ministrations; and, in spite of much discouragement, his labour was not in vain. Mr. Wynne gives several deeply interesting incidents connected with the soldiers and their families. By personal intercourse, almost as much as by preaching, Mr. Daunt won souls.

The secret of his success lay deeper than either the eloquence, to which those who heard him bear such strong testimony, or the overflowing kindliness of disposition which won the hearts of those who met him in social life. His strength was drawn from intimate communion with God. Every day he joined with his Curate in earnest prayer for a blessing upon their labours, and no hour seemed to him out of season' for communion with God. In a railway-carriage, even in the midst of a meal, he would invite his friends to join him in supplicating Divine help and guid

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

curran, Mr. Daunt accepted the living of Ballymoney, which he speedily exchanged for that of Stackallen, Co. Meath. This, also, was soon resigned. These rapid changes Mr. Wynne ascribes in part to vacillation, which was one of his characteristics, and partly to an almost morbid conscientiousness. His objection to the Ballymoney living is thus described: 'He went over to Ballymoney soon after his appointment to inspect his new house and sphere of labour. His great anxiety was with regard to the opportunities he should find there for the exercise of his ministry. When he arrived at the rectory, he was informed with great pride by the man in charge of the premises, that there was a fine new house and forty acres of prime land, and, in short, "every comfort that a gentleman could require." What seemed such grand intelligence to the hired servant, made the Pastor's heart sink.'' His soul seemed torn asunder,' writes a relative, 'at his own unfaithfulness in leaving one comparatively easy field of work for another still easier and better paid.'

therefore decided to enlarge the church, and whilst the alterations were in progress the congregation were accommodated in the Exhibition Palace. At first, the second concert-hall was taken, but in a few weeks this became too small; so the large concert-room, seated for three thousand people, was secured. This place, too, was crowded, and for nearly twelve months Mr. Daunt preached here to eager multitudes, many of whom would not have entered a place of worship. A considerable number of Roman Catholics slipped in with the multitude, and not a few were 'led to happy heart-faith in the Lord Jesus,' and to a bold confession of their new-found joy. One evening a young Priest sought an interview with the Protestant Clergyman, and the Confessor himself confessed his spiritual unrest and besought the prayers and counsel of the 'heretic' Preacher. Many other Roman Catholics came to speak to him of their old difficulties and new hopes.'

[ocr errors]

His house was constantly beset by those who needed guidance and sympathy. His sister tells me,' says Mr. Wynne, 'that she has known people in the dining-room, drawing-room and study at the same time, waiting to speak to him, while he was obliged to carry on his business with a brotherClergyman in the pantry. The sick and the sorrowing still found in him an ever-ready friend. bially unpunctual in other matters, to their calls he ever gave prompt attention, feeling that

Prover

A few months after he became Rector of Stackallen, he was offered the Incumbency of St. Matthias', Dublin, as successor to his friend Mr. Day. There were many things which made the return to his first sphere of labour very desirable, but the state of his health seemed a serious barrier. Perplexed as to what was the right course, he resolved to follow implicitly his father's advice. The result was that in August, 1867, he accepted the metropolitan Incumbency. The congregation had been large, but soon the influx of strangers, attracted by Mr. Daunt's earnest eloquence, filled seats and aisles at every service. Rich and poor, intelligent and ignorant alike, were drawn to the place until, especially during the sittings of the first Convention of the Disestablished Church, crowds were marked. 'Sometimes he would anunable to obtain admission. It was

"The poor in body and estate,

The sick and the disconsolate,
On man's convenience may not wait.'

On the completion of the alterations in St. Matthias', he returned to his ordinary work. He found time to take part in the various organizations connected with the parish. His influence on young men was very

nounce on a Sunday evening that he

intended to carry on the subject of the sermon at the young men's class next night, and then the large schoolroom would be crowded from end to end, while men sat on the stairs outside, hoping to catch something of what was said. A young man... stated that during his connection with it, he personally knew of fifty men who were led to take their stand decidedly and boldly on the Lord's side through the teaching at the class.' His biographer, who is also his successor in the parish, says:

'I feel keenly...that all these accounts give but a very meagre notion of what the man really did at St. Matthias'. I have pointed out some of the most prominent threads in the web of life-work that he was daily weaving....You must have gone, as I have, from street to lane, and from drawingroom to garret, from sick-bed to shopcounter, and from hospital-ward to collegechamber; you must have heard, as I have, in all these places the testimony borne by glistening eyes and sobbing voices as to the blessing and comfort received from Achilles Dannt. You must have heard the tale, as I have heard it, of young men won from sin to holiness, of girls led from frivolity and thoughtlessness to devotion of life, of aged men and women helped from murmarings of discontent and repining to songs of thanksgiving and hope; you must have listened, as I have, to the story told in a thousand ways of souls new-born to God and lives sanctified, strengthened and gladdened under the ministry of this one man, before you can form an adequate idea of what the man really did, or rather of what God did through him.'

His parish was, however, by no means the exclusive sphere of Mr. Daunt's labours. His reputation as an orator made him a popular Preacher for special occasions, and his devout earnestness made him invaluable as a 'Missioner' in evangelistic services. He took also an active part in the reconstruction of the Disestablished Church, and in the management of its new organizations. By the almost unanimous vote of the Clergy and laity of the diocese, he was appointed representative Canon in the cathedral of St. Patrick.

Such constant and multifarious labours soon told on his delicate frame, and it became evident that he could not long stand the strain. But he would not yield to the entreaties of his friends. My life will not be long,' he used to say, 'but I must work while it is day.'

At length even he saw that he must leave his beloved parish for an easier sphere of labour. He had an attack of inflammation of the lungs, from the effects of which he seems never to have fully recovered. Just at this time the Deanery of Cork was offered to him; and, yielding to the earnest entreaties of his old friend Bishop Gregg, he accepted it. He was received at Cork with enthusiasm, and at once threw himself heart and soul into his new work. Every Friday evening he preached to great congregations in the Cathedral, and afterwards gathered the young men 'for prayer and study of the Scriptures in the deanery, till the number attending became so large that it was necessary to hold the meetings in the chapter-room of the cathedral.'

His life in Cork was, however, soon interrupted by the complete failure of his health. Whilst attending the sessions of the General Synod in Dublin, in April, 1877, he was seized with alarming illness. In churches and chapels, even Roman Catholic, prayer was offered for his recovery. He rallied. After some months spent at various watering-places in England, he returned to Ireland. Passing through Dublin, he attempted to take part in the evening service at St. Matthias'; but whilst reading the prayers his voice failed, and, bursting into tears, he was obliged to give up. On reaching Cork, he tried to do his work as usual. On the 26th of May, 1878, the good Bishop died, and the Dean preached a funeral sermon from: 'Sorrowing most of all,...that they should see his face no more.' his last sermon.

It was

There was a very general wish that Mr. Daunt should succeed to the bishopric. But when one of his friends said to him: You will soon be in a palace now,' he pointed upwards and answered: 'Not a palace, but a crown, is what I look for.' All his influence was used to secure the election of the late Bishop's son-the present occupant of the See.

was

On Sunday, June 9th, the Dean took part in the administration of the Communion. It was his last service in the earthly temple. Immediately afterwards he was so weak that it was thought necessary to send for his relatives, and on the following Sunday his recovery was pronounced hopeless. The closing scene very touching. He asked his wife to read part of the Liturgy. Whilst strength lasted, he joined audibly in the responses of the Litany. Afterwards, he asked for the 'General Thanksgiving,' then for 'Jesu, Lover of my soul,' and 'Rock of Ages.' Next morning, June 17th, the faithful soldier- spent in the service' here so early (he was only forty-five)joined the great company who 'serve Him day and night in His temple.'

The coffin was followed to the railway station by thousands of mourners, though the rain fell in torrents. The body was brought to Dublin at night, and borne to the church of which he had been the beloved and loving Minister. There a vast congregation waited in prayer, silent but for suppressed sobs, until at about eleven o'clock the sad procession entered. 'As the coffin was. carried up the aisle of the church... there was, indeed, a sound of weeping; and even strong men bowed down their heads altogether, hid their faces in their hands, and cried like children.' Next morning the body of Achilles Daunt was laid to rest 'in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ.' B. H. S.

We subjoin a brief summary of his character from the pen of an Irish correspondent:

MR. WYNNE was a fellow-student of Achilles Daunt at Trinity College, Dublin, and a valued friend then and afterwards. Mrs. Daunt wished him to write her husband's memoir. He was appealed to, not only as an intimate friend and one possessing 'the pen of a ready writer,' but also as the successor to the St. Matthias' ministry, where the results of Mr. Daunt's work were every day before his eyes. How he has discharged the trust laid upon him, we are now about to consider.

Books that are written with tears are read with tears. The heave of the breast and the sound of the sob are perceptible through all the imperturbability of printed characters. They appeal for sympathy, and they get it. 'What comes from the heart goes to the heart.' Probably it was on the authority of this general rule that Mr. Wynne reasoned when he remarked (p. 352): 'I feel that hundreds who take up this book will not be able to read it to the end through the emotions it awakens.'

The careful portrait, physical, moral and intellectual, which he has just completed, is wonderfully vivid. To those who knew the original it is painfully real. To such, the study of it can hardly fail to produce the feeling described in In Memoriam: 'And if along with these should come

The man I held as half-Divine;

Should strike a sudden hand in mine, And ask a thousand things of home; And I perceived no touch of change,

No hint of death in all his frame, But found him all in all the same, I should not feel it to be strange.'

The introduction of the readers to the subject of the memoir is most natural. The first thing they are called upon to notice is his outward appearance:

'A very remarkable man to look at he certainly was. There was a wonderful

« ForrigeFortsæt »