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Touching Incidents: Part 9

By S.B. Shaw


      "This she described in the most terrific language, and declared that the horrid shrieks of lost spirits still seemed to sound in her ears. As she approached the burning pit, a tremendous effort was made to draw her into it; but she felt herself safe under the protection of her guardian angel. She recognized many in the place of torment whom she had known on earth, and even some who had been thought to be Christians.

      "There were princes and peasants, learned and un-learned, writhing together in one unquenchable fire, where all earthly distinctions and titles were forever at an end. Among them she beheld a Miss W----, who had occupied a prominent station in society, but had died during the illness of this young woman. She said that when Miss W saw her approach, her shrieks were appalling, beyond the power of language to describe, and that she made a desperate but unsuccessful effort to escape.

      "The punishment of lost souls she represented as symbolizing the respective sins which had occasioned their condemnation. Miss W----, for instance, was condemned for the love of money, which I had every reason to believe was her besetting sin; and she seemed robed in a garment of gold, all on fire. Mr. O----, whom she saw, was lost through intemperance; and he appeared to be punished by devils administering to him some boiling liquid.

      "She said there was no sympathy among these unhappy spirits, but that unmixed hatred, in all its frightful forms, prevailed in every part of the fiery regions. She beheld parents and children, husbands and wives, and those who had been companions in sin, exhibiting every mark of deep hatred to each other's society; and heard them in fiendish accents upbraiding and bitterly cursing each other. She saw nothing in hell but misery and despair, and heard nothing there but the most discordant sounds, accompanied with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

      "While she gazed upon this revolting scene, many souls arrived from earth, and were greedily seized by innumerable devils of monstrous shape, amid horrid shouts of hellish triumph, and tortured according to their crimes."

      John Wesley, in his Journal of August, 1746, vol. 1, pages 374-375-376, concerning one he styles "S.T.," says:

      "About six in the morning she was rising, and inwardly praying to God; when on a sudden, she was seized with a violent trembling. Quickly after she lost her speech in a few minutes her hearing; then her sight, and, at the same time, all sense and motion.

      "Her mother immediately sent for Mrs. Designe, to whom she then went to school. At the same time her father sent for Mr. Smith, apothecary, who lived near. At first he proposed bleeding her immediately, and applying a large blister; but upon examining her further, he said ' It signifies nothing, for the child is dead.' About twelve o'clock she began to stir; then opened her eyes, and gave the following account:

      "As soon as I lost my senses, I was in a dismal place, full of briers, and pits, and ditches; stumbling up and down, and not knowing where to turn, or which way to get either forward or backward; and it was almost quite dark, there being but a little faint twilight, so that I could scarce see before me. I was crying, ready to break my heart; and a man came to me, and said: 'Child, where are you going?' I said: 'I could not tell.' He said: ' What do you want?' I answered: 'I want Christ to be my refuge.' He said: 'You are the child for whom I am sent; you are to go with me.' I saw it grew lighter as he spoke. I observed his clothes; they reached down to his feet, and were shining and white as snow.

      He brought me through a narrow lane, into a vast, broad road, and told me: 'This leads to hell; but be not afraid; you are not to stay there.' At the end of that road a man stood, clothed like the other, in white, shining clothes. Turning to the left hand, we went down a very high, steep hill. I could scarce bear the stench and smoke of brimstone. I saw a vast many people that seemed to be chained down, crying and gnashing their teeth. The man told me, the sins they delighted in once they are tormented with now. I saw a vast number who stood up, cursing and blaspheming God, and spitting at each other; and many were making balls of fire, and throwing them at one another. I saw many others, who had cups of fire, out of which they were drinking down flames; and others, who held cards of fire in their hands, and seemed to be playing with them.

      "We stayed here, I thought, about half an hour. Then my guide said: 'Come; I will now show you a glorious place.' I saw the gate of heaven, which stood wide open; but it was so bright I could not look at it long. We went straight in, and walked through a large place, where I saw saints and angels; and another large place, where were abundance more. They were all of one height and stature; and when one prayed, they all prayed; when one sung, they all sung. And they all sung alike, with a smooth, even voice, not one higher or lower than another.

      "We went through this into a third place. There I saw God, sitting upon His throne. It was a throne of light, brighter than the sun. I could not fix my eyes upon it. I saw three, but all as one. Our Savior had a pen in His hand. A great book lay at His right side; another at His left; and a third partly behind Him. In the first He set down the prayers and good works of His people; in the second He set down all the curses, and all the evil works of the wicked. I saw that He discerns the whole earth at a glance.

      "Then our Lord took the first book in His hand, and went and said: 'Father, behold the prayers and the works of my people.' And he held up His hands and prayed, and interceded to His Father for us. I never heard any voice like that; but I cannot tell how to explain it. And His Father said: 'Son, I forgive Thy people; not for their sake, but Thine.' Then our Lord wrote it down in the third book, and returned to His throne, rejoicing with the hosts of heaven.

      "It seemed to me as if I stayed here several months but I never slept all the while. And there was no night; and I saw no sky or sun, but clear light everywhere. Then we went back to a large door, which my guide opened; and we walked into pleasant gardens, by brooks and fountains. As we walked, I said: 'I did not see my brother here' (who died sometime before). He said: 'Child, thou canst not know thy brother yet. Thy spirit is to return to the earth. Thou must watch and pray. Thou shalt come again hither, and be joined to these, and know everyone as before.' I said: 'When is that to be?' He said 'I know not, nor any angel in heaven; but God alone.'

      While we were walking, he said: 'Sing.' I said 'What shall I sing?' And he said: 'Sing praises unto the King of the place.' I sung several verses. Then he said: 'I must go.' I would have fain gone with him; but he said 'Your time is not yet; you have more work to do on earth.' Immediately he was gone; and I came to myself, and began to speak.

      "She received remission of sins when she was nine years old, and was very watchful from that time. Since this trance she has continued in faith and love."

      Again, Mr. Wesley, in his Journal of August 6, 1759, page 42, says: "I talked largely with Ann Thorn, and two others, who had been several times in trances. What they all agreed in was, 1. That when they went away, as they -termed it, it was always at the time they were fullest of the love of God. 2. That it came upon them in a moment, without any previous notice, and took away all their senses and strength. 3. That there were some exceptions; but in general, from that moment they were in another world, knowing nothing of what was done or said by all that were round about them.

      "About five in the afternoon I heard them singing hymns. Soon after Mr. B. came up and told me that Alice Miller was fallen into a trance. I went down immediately, and found her sitting on a stool, and leaning against the wall, with her eyes open and fixed upward. I made a motion as if going to strike; but they continued immovable Her face showed an unspeakable mixture of reverence and love, while silent tears stole down her cheeks. Her lips were a little open, and sometimes moved; but not enough to cause any sound. I do not know whether I ever saw a human face look so beautiful; sometimes it was covered with a smile, as from joy, mixing with love and reverence but the tears fell still, though not so fast.

      "In about half an hour I observed her countenance change into the form of fear, pity, and distress; then she burst into a flood of tears, and cried out: 'Dear Lord, they will be damned! They will all be damned!' But in about five minutes her smiles returned, and only love and joy appeared in her face. About half an hour after six, I observed distress take place again; and soon after she wept bitterly, and cried out: 'Dear Lord, they will go to hell! The world will go to hell! ' Soon after, she said: 'Cry aloud! Spare not!' And in a few moments her look was composed again, and spoke a mixture of reverence, joy, and love. Then she said aloud: 'Give God the glory.' About seven her senses returned. I asked: ' Where have you been?' ' I have been with my Savior.' 'In heaven, or on earth?' 'I can-not tell; but I was in glory.' 'Why then did you cry?' 'Not for myself, but for the world; for I saw they were on the brink of hell.' 'Whom did you desire to give the glory to God?' ' Ministers, that cry aloud to the world; else they will be proud; and then God will leave them, and they will lose their own souls.'" -- The Plumbline


      Although there are so many cases of healing in answer to prayer, yet the incident of the healing of Mrs. Sherman is 50 minute, and resulted in such a radical change of the physical constitution, that it is necessary to relate it in full detail. It is too well proven to admit the possibility of a doubt.

      " Mrs. Ellen Sherman is the wife of Rev. Moses Sherman, and, at the time of this occurrence in 1873, they were residents of Piermont, N.H. She had been an invalid for many years. In the winter after she was fifteen, she fell on the ice and hurt her left knee, so that it became weak and easy to slip out of joint. Six years after, she fell again on the same knee, so twisting it and injuring the ligaments that it became partially stiff, and, the physician said, incurable.

      "The next summer, by very fast walking, one day, she brought on special weakness, which no physician was able to cure. From that moment she was subject to severe neuralgia, sick-headaches, at least monthly, and sometimes even weekly.

      In December, 1859, while stepping out of doors, she slipped, by reason of her stiff joint, and fell, striking near the base of the spine, directly across the sharp edge of the stone step. This caused such a sickness that she was obliged to leave the school she was attending.

      "Three years after, in January, 1862, she fell at thee top of a stairway, striking just as before, and sliding all the way down to the foot. This nearly paralyzed the spinal cord, and caused deep and permanent spinal-disease After this she was up and down for many years, attended by various physicians, yet nothing bettered, but, rat her, growing worse. It may be said, for short, that every organ of the lower body became chronically diseased, and that the headaches increased in violence.

      "In September, 1872, through a severe cold, she took her bed, where she lay, except when lifted from it, till the night of August 27, 1873. She was unable to walk a step, or even stand. She could sit up only a short time without great distress. The best medical skill that could be procured gave only temporary relief. The spine grew worse in spite of every appliance, and the nervous sensitiveness and prostration were increasing. During the two or three weeks immediately preceding her cure, she was especially helpless, two persons being required to lift her off and on the bed. On the Monday before, one of her severest neuralgia sick-headaches came on. During Wednesday she began to be relieved, but was still so sick that when, in the evening, she tried to have her clothes changed, she could only endure the change of her night-dress."

      It will be seen from this, her utter physical helplessness, and not the slightest hope of any amelioration. During the night of August 27th, she enjoyed a blessed time of communion with her Lord, giving herself, in all her helplessness, wholly to Him to do as he wills.

      With feelings beyond all expression, she felt the nearness of her mighty Savior, and the sense of receiving a new and most delicious pulsation of new life. At last, though she had been bed-ridden for twelve months, and incapable of any bodily assistance, she felt an uncontrollable impulse to throw off the clothes of the bed with her left arm, and sprang out of bed upon her feet, and started to walk across the room.

      Her husband's first thought was that she was crazed, and would fall to the floor, and he sprang towards her to help her. But she put up her hands against him, saying, with great energy: "Don't you touch me! Don't you touch me!' and went walking back and forth across the room, speaking rapidly, and declaring the work which Jesus had been working upon her.

      "Her husband quickly saw that she was in her right mind, and had been healed by the Lord, and his soul was filled with unutterable emotion.

      "One of the women of the household was called, also their son, twelve years old; and, together, they thanked God for the great and blessed wonder he had wrought.

      In the morning, after a sleep of several hours, she further examined herself to see if entirely healed, and found both knees perfectly well; and though for sixteen years she had not been able to use either, now she lifted the left foot and put it upon the right knee, thus proving the completeness of her restoration.

      "At the end of two years from her healing, inquiry having been made as to how thorough had been the work, Mrs. Sherman gave full and abundant evidence. 'I cannot remember a summer when I have been so healthy and strong, and able to work hard. I am a constant wonder to myself, and to others, and have been for the two years past. The cure exceeded my highest expectations at the time I was cured. I did not look forward to such a state of vigor and strength. No words can express my joy and gratitude for all this.'

      "The parents of Mrs. Sherman also testify of the wonderful change physically which occurred with the cure.

      "Before, her appetite was always disordered, but on the very morning of the healing it was wholly changed, and .her food, which distressed her formerly,' she ate with a relish and without any pain following; and she so continues. For years before a natural action of the bowels was rare. From that day since, an unnatural one is equally rare.

      "For fifteen years, with few exceptions, she had had severe neuralgic sick-headaches monthly or oftener. Front that time she had been natural and without pain, with no return of the headaches, except a comparatively slight one once, from overdoing, and a cold taken through carelessness.

      "There was also at that time an immediate and radical change in the action of the kidneys, which had become a source of great trouble before. Moreover, the knee, which had been partially stiff for so many years, was made entirely well. In fine, her body, which had been so full of pain, became at once free from pain, and full of health.

      "The week after she was healed, she went fifty miles to attend a camp-meeting, riding five miles in a carriage, the rest by cars. A near neighbor said: 'She will come back worse than ever.' Though the weather was especially bad, she came back better than when she went."

      These are but few out of many expressions respecting her extraordinary recovery, which fully satisfy the believing Christian that the Great Physician is with us now, "healing the lame," and curing the sick. It is faith only, unyielding, which the Lord requires, ere he gives his richest blessing.

      The unbelieving one simply sees in it "something strange," which he cannot understand; but the faith-keeping Christian knows it is the sign of his Precious Lord, in whom he trusts and abides forever. -- Wonders of Prayer.


      In a dark alley in the great city of New York, a small, ragged boy might be seen. He appeared to be about twelve years old, and had a careworn expression on his countenance. The cold air seemed to have no pity as it pierced through his ragged clothes, and made the flesh beneath blue and almost frozen.

      This poor boy had once a happy home. His parents died a year before, and left him without money or friends. He was compelled to face the cold, cruel world with but a few cents in his pocket. He tried to earn his living by selling newspapers and other such things. This day everything seemed to go against him, and in despair he threw himself down in the dark alley, with his papers by his side. A few boys gathered around the poor lad, and one asked in a kind way (for a street Arab): "Say, Johnny, why don't you go to the lodges?" (The lodge was a place where almost all the boys staid at night, costing but a few cents.) But the poor little lad could only murmur that he could not stir, and called the boys about him, saying: "I am dying now, because I feel so queer; and I can hardly see you. Gather around me closer, boys. I cannot talk so loud. I can kinder see the angels holding out their hands for me to come to that beautiful place they call heaven. Good-bye, boys. I am to meet father and mother." And, with these last words on his lips, the poor boy died.

      Next morning the passers-by saw a sight that would soften the most hardened heart. There, lying on the cold stone, with his head against the hard wall, and his eyes staring upward, was the poor little frozen form of the newsboy. He was taken to the church near by, and was interred by kind hands. And those who performed this act will never forget the poor forsaken lad. -- Golden Dawn.


      The following extract from an anonymous contribution in the New York Methodist, tells a story which many parents could adopt as their own. Few will read it without tears:

      All that morning I held the baby in my arms-all that long and weary morning. How hot was that little cheek l bow piteous the moaning! How feeble the cry! How restless! Oh! How sick was my little child! How hard to see it suffer, hour after hour, yet not be able to relieve it! My eyes grew dim with tears, and I could only faintly pray: "God, be merciful, and spare, oh I spare my little, my darling little babe."

      In vain! In vain! Again the doctor came, and then he spoke kindly; but we knew there was a depth of meaning in his words.

      "Your child is very, very sick."

      Then turning to my husband he added: "You had better not go down to the store this morning."

      Neither John nor I dared ask him any questions, for we felt there was something in his tone which bade us hope no longer. Something as sad to us as the tolling of the funeral-bell.

      "John," I said, after the doctor had left, "bring the baby to me."

      Tenderly he raised it up and placed it in my lap, and silently we watched the flame of life decreasing. No words were spoken. The measured ticking of the clock and the restless breathing of the baby alone were heard. An hour -- it seemed an hour -- passed away. I gazed upon the face of Willie; the eyes were fixed, the cheek was pale, and the breathing, how quick and short it was! Never had I seen a child so sick before; but I knew -- I knew -- the dread change was coming.

      "O John! Our darling babe is dying."

      "Mary," this was all John said, " Mary, the will of God be done."

      "Yes, yes, dear husband," I could hardly speak for weeping; "but it is so hard, so very, very hard, to lose a little child."

      No more was said; but we wept together. We saw the eyes gently close and open, and close again; the breath came quicker and quicker; then - then -- more and more slowly -- the little stream of life was ebbing fast away.

      Friends came into the room, but I heeded them not. Then some one gently touched me, and said, "Mary." I knew the voice.

      "O mother! You have come. Willie is dying."

      I can dwell no longer on that scene. Two days after, and John said, "In an hour the funeral services will take place. Let us take our last look at the child we loved while we are alone together."

      We drew near the coffin. There was the little face we had learned to love; but oh! the eyes were closed, the voice was hushed. There lay the child so still and quiet, the hands together and a wreath of pure white flowers beside them. I kissed the cold face:

      " O Willie! Farewell -- farewell --forever"

      "No, Mary, not forever," said John; "there is another and a better life."

      Then came the solemn funeral services, the journey to the cemetery, the open grave, and all was over. John and I came back to our sad and silent cottage on the hill. Only a few weeks ago it was that we visited the grave of Willie. We walked through the entrance of Greenwood, along the hard, smooth road to the hillside, near the quiet lake, and there, under the shadow of a wide-branching tree, we stood beside the little mound of earth. I gazed upon the monument which had just been placed there, with a rose-bud on a broken stem, engraved upon it the name of our lost child, the date of birth and death, and then the words:

      "Safe in the Shepherd's arms."

      We gazed and wept; and at last John said: "Mary, life is short. Here beside this grave let us resolve so to live that we shall meet our little one in our true home in heaven" There beside that grave we made the solemn vow, and we shall try to keep it. I know that I am weak and nervous. As I go to and fro in the daily work of the house, I grieve for the babe that has gone, for I miss it very much. Be patient, oh, my sorrowing spirit, be patient! I think it will not be long -- though I dare not tell my husband so -- before I shall sleep quietly beside my little babe; not long before I shall meet that gentle spirit in the skies. -- Golden Dawn.


      Little Jennie was eight years old, March 30, 1886. The April following she was taken very sick, and from that time until June 4, she seemed a little suffering angel. Then Jesus, who bad so blessedly sustained her during all her sufferings, took her to Himself. She would say, when able to talk: "Mamma, I do not care what I suffer, God knows best." When she was very low, we would often see her dear lips moving, and, listening, hear her praying. She would finish her prayer, and after saying "Amen," having noticed that we were listening to her, would look up into our faces to see if we wanted anything.

      This patience and devotion characterized her whole life. Often, when she was at play with her sister, who was the older by five years, when some little trouble would arise, she would take her sister by the hand and say: "Kittie, let's tell Jesus." Then bowing her little head, she would pour out her whole heart in prayer to her God, with the fervency that is always shown by a true Christian.

      About three weeks after she was taken ill, her little body was paralyzed, and drawn all out of shape it seemed. Then in a few days her little limbs were so we could almost straighten them. What suffering she endured all that time, no one knows but those who were with her.

      May 25th, which was Tuesday, while suffering terribly, she said: " Mamma, play and sing." I took the guitar, and without stopping to think what to sing, began that beautiful song in the Gospel Hymns: " Nearer my home, today, than I have been before." I could praise God just then, for I was filled with His Spirit. She lay there, looking at ire with her little blue eyes, and trying in her weak voice to help me. At last she seemed soothed by the music. But we knew that Jesus, in His infinite love, had quieted her for the time, because we were willing to submit to His will. We had said all the time: "Lord, not my will, but thine."

      She rested quite well until about three o'clock in the afternoon; then suddenly she spoke, and her voice sounded suite strong as she said: "O mamma, see those people, how funny they look! They look like poles." She was lying so that she could look out of the window, and as she spoke her eyes seemed to rest on some object there. Then she spoke louder: "O mamma, come and see the little children! I never saw so many in my life." I sat down on the front of the bed and said: "Jennie, is there any there that you know?" She looked them over so earnestly, then said: "No, not one." I asked her how they looked. She said: " Mamma, every one has a gold crown on its head, and they are all dressed in white." I thought that Jesus was coming for her then. After telling me that there were none there that she knew, she sank back on the pillows as though exhausted. But in a few moments she raised up again and said: "O mamma, hear that music! Did you ever hear such grand music? Now, do not shut the windows tonight, will you?" I told her that I would not.

      The next morning she called Kittie into the room and said: "Kittie, I want to tell you what I saw last night. She then proceeded to tell her the same as she had told me the evening before. Then she said, "Now, Kittie, you will forgive me for ever being cross to you, won't you?" Kittie answered: "Little darling, you have never been cross to me. Will you forgive me, sister, for being cross to you?" "Darling sister," said she, "that is all right."

      Thursday night she was paralyzed in her left side, so that she had no use of it. Friday all day she lay unconscious, and that night the same. Saturday, about ten o'clock, she commenced to try and whisper. We could hear her say:

      "Papa, mamma." We tried to understand her, but at first could not. She kept whispering plainer, and finally we heard her say: "Take -- me -- upstairs. I -- want -- to -- lie -- on -- my -- own -- bed -- once -- more." But of course we could not move her. Suddenly she said aloud: "I am going to die; kiss me quick, mamma." I bent down and kissed her, and she looked so wretched. I said: "Jennie, you will not have to go alone; Jesus will take you." She answered: "I know it. I wish that He would come this minute. Kiss me again, mamma." I did so; then she wished us to sing. Again, without giving one thought, I commenced singing the same words that I sang the Tuesday before. She raised her right hand arm's length, and began to wave it and bow her head. Oh! She was so happy. Then she said: "Play." They brought the guitar, and she continued to wave her little hand, while I played and sang the whole piece. One of her aunts, standing near the bed, took hold of her band to stop it, but it moved just the same, and I said: "Ollie, let go of her hand, that is the Lord's doings." After I finished, she kissed her father, mother and sister, and bade them good-bye; then called four other, very dear friends, and told them good-bye after kissing them. She then called for a book and wanted the music-teacher, who was present, to play and sing a piece which she dearly loved. Before she was sick, she would have little prayer-meetings, and her sweet little face would shine with happiness.

      She would say: "O mamma l how the Lord has blessed me. While the dear teacher was playing and singing her favorite, she was waving her little hand. We sang three or four other pieces around her bed. We all thought that Jesus would take her then. Oh, what joy; it was heaven below. Jesus was there, and the room was filled with glory on account of His presence. Two of her aunts said that it seemed as though they were in heaven.

      She never spoke after that, but would try to make us understand by motioning when she wanted anything. Some times it would take us a long time, but she would be so patient. She was ready and waiting. She had peace that the world cannot give, and, praise God! That the world cannot take away. The dear little one lived until the next Tuesday after-noon, and went to Jesus about three o'clock. That was the time she saw the vision the Tuesday before. Tuesday morning before daylight she tried to tell me something. I said, "Sing?" She looked so happy and bowed her head. I began singing: "I am Jesus' little lamb." She bowed her head again. In the forenoon she kept looking at her aunts Ollie and Belle, and pointing up. Oh! It meant so much. It seemed to me that she was saying, that it meant: "Meet me in heaven." Finally she motioned for me to raise the window-curtain. I did so, and she looked out of the window so eagerly, as though she was expecting to see the little children. Here the little blue eyes closed to open no more in this world, but in heaven. -- Mrs. Libbie Jones.


      About ninety years ago, there was in Glasgow a club of gentlemen of the first rank in that city. They met professedly for card-playing, but the members were distinguished by such a fearless excess of profligacy, as to obtain for it the name of "The Hell Club." They gloried in the name they had acquired for themselves, and nothing that could merit it was left untried. Beside their nightly or weekly meetings, they held a grand annual festival, at which each member endeavored to "outdo all his former outdoings" in drunkenness, blasphemy, and licentiousness.

      Of all who shone on these occasions, none shone half so brilliantly as Archibald Boyle. But, alas! The light that dazzled in him was not "light from heaven," but from that dread abode which gave name to the vile association which was to prove his ruin-ruin for time and eternity!

      Archibald Boyle had been at one time a youth of the richest promise, being possessed of dazzling talents and fascinating manners. No acquirement was too high for his ability; but, unfortunately, there was none too low for his ambition. Educated by a fond and foolishly indulgent mother, he early met in society with members of "The Hell Club." His elegance, wit, gaiety, and versatility of talent, united to the gifts of fortune, made him a most desirable victim for them; and a victim and a slave, glorying in his bondage, he quickly became. Long ere he was five-and-twenty; he was one of the most accomplished black-guards it could number on its lists. To him, what were heaven, hell or eternity! Words, mere words, that served no purpose, but to point his blasphemous wit, or nerve his execrations! To him, what glory was there, equal to that of hearing himself pronounced "the very life of the club?" Alas! There was none; for as soon as man forgets God, who alone can keep him, his understanding becomes darkened, and he glories in that which is his shame.

      Yet, while all within that heart was festering in corruption, he retained all his remarkable beauty of face and person, all his external elegance of manner; and continued an acknowledged favorite in the fairest female society of the day.

      One night, on retiring to sleep, after returning from one of the annual meetings of the club, Boyle dreamed that he was still riding, as usual, upon his famous black horse, toward his own house -- then a country seat, embowered by, ancient trees, and situated upon a hill now built over by the most fashionable part of Glasgow and that he was suddenly accosted by some one, whose personal appearance he could not, in the gloom of night, distinctly discern, but who, seizing the reins, said, in a voice apparently accustomed to command: "You must go with me." "And who are you?" exclaimed Boyle, with a volley of blasphemous execrations, while he struggled to disengage his reins from the intruders grasp. "That you will see bye-and-bye," replied the same voice, in a cold, sneering tone, that thrilled through his very heart. Boyle plunged his spurs into the panting sides of his steed. The noble animal reared; and then suddenly darted forward with a speed that nearly deprived his rider of breath; but in vain, in vain! Fleeter than the wind he flew, the mysterious, half-seen guide, still before him! Agonized by, he knew not what, of indescribable horror and awe, Boyle again furiously spurred the gallant horse. It fiercely reared and plunged; he lost his seat, and expected at the moment to feel himself dashed to the earth. But not so; for he continued to fall - fall - fall -- it appeared to himself with an ever-increasing velocity. At length, this terrific rapidity of motion abated, and, to his amazement and horror, he perceived that this mysterious attendant was close by his side.

      "Where." he exclaimed, in the frantic energy of despair, "Where are you taking me? Where am I? Where am I going?" "To hell," replied the same iron voice; and from the depths below, the sound so familiar to his lips was suddenly re-echoed.

      "To hell," onward, onward they hurried in darkness; rendered more horrible still by the conscious presence of his spectral conductor. At length, a glimmering light appeared in the distance, and soon increased to a blaze. But as they approached it, in addition to the hideously discordant groans and yells of agony and despair, his ears were assailed with what seemed to be the echoes of frantic revelry. They soon reached an arched entrance, of such stupendous magnificence, that all the grandeur of this world seemed in comparison but as the frail and dingy labors of the mole. Within it, what a scene! Too awful to be described. Multitudes, gnashing their teeth in the hopelessness of mad despair, cursed the day that gave them birth; while memory, recalling opportunities lost and mercies despised, presented to their fevered mental vision the scenes of their past lives. There fancy stilt pictured to them the young and lovely, moving up and down in the giddy mazes of the midnight dance; the bounding steed, bearing his senseless rider through the excitements of the goaded race; the intemperate, still drawling over the-midnight bowl, the wanton song, or maudlin blasphemy. There the slave of Mammon bemoaned his folly in bartering his soul for useless gold! While the gambler bewailed, alas! Too late, the madness of his choice.

      Boyle at length perceived that he was surrounded by those whom he had known on earth, but were some time dead; each one of them betraying his agony at the bitter recollections of the vain pursuits that had engrossed his time here -- time lent to prepare for a far different scene!

      Suddenly, observing that his unearthly conductor had disappeared, he felt so relieved by his absence, that he ventured to address his former friend, Mrs. D----, whom he saw sitting with eyes fixed in intense earnestness, as she was wont on earth, apparently absorbed at her favorite game of loo. "Ha, Mrs. D----! Delighted to see you; d'ye know a fellow told me tonight he was bringing me to hell! Ha, ha! If this be hell," said he, scoffingly, "what a devilish pleasant place it must be! Ha, ha! Come, now, my good Mrs. D----, for auld langsyne, do just stop for a moment, rest, and -- show me through the pleasures of hell," he was going, with reckless profanity, to add; but, with a shriek that seemed to cleave through his very soul, she exclaimed: "Rest! There is no rest in hell!" and from interminable vaults, voices, as loud as thunder, repeated the awful, the heart-withering sound: "THERE IS NO REST IN HELL"

      She hastily unclasped the vest of her gorgeous robe, and displayed to his scared and shuddering eye, a coil of fiery living snakes --"the worm that never dies"-- the worm accusing conscience, remorse, despair -- wreathing, darting, stinging in her bosom; others followed her example, and in every bosom there was a self-inflicted punishment. In some, he saw bare and throbbing hearts, on which distilled slow drops, as it were, of fiery molten metal, under which consuming, yet ever unconsumed, they writhed and palpitated in all the impotence of helpless, hopeless agony. And many a scalding drop was a tear of hopeless anguish, wrung by selfish, heartless villainy, from the eye of injured innocence on earth.

      In every bosom he saw that which we have no language to describe, no idea horrid enough even to conceive; for in all he saw the full-grown fruit of the fiend-sown seed of evil passions, voluntarily nourished in the human soul, during its mortal pilgrimage here: and in all he saw them lashed and maddened by the serpent-armed hand of Despair;

      For hell were not hell;
      If Hope had ever entered there!

      And they laughed, for they had laughed on earth at all there is of good and holy. And they sung-profane and blasphemous songs sang they! For they had often done so on earth, at the very hour God claims as his own, the still and midnight hour! And he who, in his vision, walked among them in a mortal frame of flesh and blood, felt how inexpressibly more horrible such sounds could be than ever was the wildest shriek of agony on earth.

      "These are the pleasures of hell," again assailed his ear, in the same terrific and interminable roll of unearthly sound.

      He rushed away; but as he fled, he saw those whom he knew must have been dead for thousands of years, still absorbed in their recollections of their sinful pleasures on earth, and toiling on through their eternity of woe. The vivid reminiscences of their godlessness on earth inflicted on them the bitterest pang in their doom in hell.

      He saw Maxwell, the former companion of his own boyish profligacy, borne along in incessant movement, mocked by the creations of his frenzied mind, as if intent op still pursuing the headlong chase. "Stop, Harry; Stop! Speak to me! Oh, rest one moment! " Scarce had the words been breathed from his faltering lips, when again his terror-stricken ear was stunned with the same wild yell of agony, re-echoed by ten thousand voices: "THERE IS NO REST IN HELL!"

      Boyle tried to shut his eyes. He found he could not. He threw himself down, but the pavement of hell, as with a living and instinctive movement, rejected him from its surface; and, forced upon his feet, he found himself compelled to gaze with still increasing intensity of horror, at the ever-changing, yet ever-steady torrent of eternal torment. And this was hell! The scoffer's jest-the by-word of the profligate!

      All at once he perceived that his unearthly conductor was once more by his side. "Take me," shrieked Boyle, "take me from this place! By the living God, whose name I have so often outraged, I adjure thee; take me from this place."

      "Can'st thou still name His name?" said the fiend, with a hideous sneer; "go, then; but -- in a year and a day WE meet, to part no more!"

      Boyle awoke; and he felt as if the last words of the fiend were traced in letters of living fire upon his heart and brain. Unable, from actual bodily ailment, to leave his bed for several days, the horrid vision had full time to take effect upon his mind; and many were the pangs of tardy remorse and ill-defined terror that beset his vice-stained soul, as he lay in darkness and seclusion, to him so very unusual.

      He resolved, utterly and forever, to forsake "The Club." Above all, he determined that nothing on earth should tempt him to join the next annual festival.

      The companions of his licentiousness soon flocked around him; and finding that his deep dejection of mind did not disappear with his bodily ailment, and that it arose from some cause which disinclined him from seeking or enjoying their accustomed orgies, they became alarmed with the idea of losing "the life of the club," and bound themselves by an oath never to desist till they had discovered what was the matter with him, and had cured him of playing the Methodist. Their alarm as to losing "the life of the club" had been wrought up to the highest pitch, by one of their number declaring that, on unexpectedly entering Boyle's room, he detected him in the act of hastily hiding a book, which he actually believed was the Bible.

      Alas! Alas! Had poor Boyle possessed sufficient true moral courage, and dignity of character, not to have hidden the Bible, how different might have been his future! But like many a hopeful youth, he was ashamed to avow his convictions, and to take his stand for God, and his ruin was the result.

      After a time, one of his compeers, more deeply cunning than the rest, bethought himself of assuming an air of the deepest disgust with the world, the club, and the mode of life they had been pursuing. He affected to seek Boyle's company in a mood of congenial melancholy, and to sympathize in all his feelings. Thus he succeeded in betraying him into a much misplaced confidence as to his dream, and the effect it had produced upon his mind. The result may readily be guessed. His confidence was betrayed, his feelings of repentance ridiculed; and it will easily be believed, that he who "hid the Bible" had not nerve to stand the ribald jests of his profligate companions.

      We cannot trace the progress, and would not, if we could. Suffice it to say, that, virtuous resolutions once broken-prayers once offered, voluntarily called back by sin from the throne of heaven -- all was lost! Yet not lost without such a fell struggle between the convictions of conscience and the spirit of evil, as wrung the color from his young cheek, and made him, ere the year was done, a haggard and gray-haired man.

      From the annual meeting he shrunk with an instinctive horror, and made up his mind utterly to avoid it. Well aware of this resolve, his tempters determined he should have no choice. How potent, how active, is the spirit of evil! How feeble is unassisted, Christless, unprayerful man! Boyle found himself, he could not tell how, seated at that table on that very day, where he had sworn to himself a thousand and a thousand times nothing on earth should make him sit. His ears tingled, and his eyes swam, as he listened to the opening sentence of the president's address: " Gentlemen, this is leap year; therefore, it is a year and a day since our last annual meeting."

      Every nerve in Boyle's body twanged in agony at the ominous, the well-remembered words. His first impulse was to rise and fly; but then -- the sneers! The sneers!

      How many in this world, as well as poor Boyle, have sold their souls to the dread of a sneer, and dared the wrath of an almighty and eternal God, rather than encounter the sarcastic curl of a fellow-creature's lip?

      He was more than ever plied with wine, applause, and every other species of excitement, but in vain. His mirth, his wit, were like lurid flashes from the bosom of a brooding thunder-cloud, that pass and leave it darker than before; and his laugh sounded fiendish, even to the evil ears that heard it.

      The night was gloomy, with frequent and fitful gusts of chill and howling wind, as Boyle, with fevered nerves and reeling brain, mounted his horse to return home. The following morning the well-known black steed was found, with saddle and bridle on, quietly grazing on the road-side, about half-way to Boyle's country-house, and a few yards from it lay the stiffened corpse of its master. -- An authentic narrative, taken from a tract.

Back to S.B. Shaw index.

See Also:
   Touching Incidents: Introduction and Preface
   Touching Incidents: Part 1
   Touching Incidents: Part 2
   Touching Incidents: Part 3
   Touching Incidents: Part 4
   Touching Incidents: Part 5
   Touching Incidents: Part 6
   Touching Incidents: Part 7
   Touching Incidents: Part 8
   Touching Incidents: Part 9
   Touching Incidents: Part 10
   Touching Incidents: Part 11
   Touching Incidents: Part 12
   Touching Incidents: Part 13
   Touching Incidents: Part 14
   Touching Incidents: Part 15
   Touching Incidents: Part 16


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