"The voices of the fair and brave
Rose mingling thence in mirth,
And sweetly floated over the wave
The melodies of earth."
Some were engaged as the lines above describe; some were buried in sleep; some on duty; some just off duty, when the great Ruler of the earth and sea for his own wise purposes summoned the great bulk of them suddenly before Him.
As I begin this article the arm of the Atlantic (Killala bay) that rolls under my eye, is calm and placid as a land-locked lake; but spite of its calmness it is "a troubled sea that cannot rest," and the moaning of the bar reminds one that the sea hath moans and sorrows. Looking out on this calm sea fresh thoughts of the awful Titanic disaster arise; first, that the sea has in places a depth of several miles; that at least two miles deep of the sea flows over the buried bodies in the Titanic; that in a short time these bodies shall lie dismembered, carried about by the ocean currents to various deeps and shallows; that yet our Christian creed teaches us that "the sea shall give up its dead" that "bone shall come to its bone"; that sinews and flesh shall come upon them and skin cover them and breath come into them." It is only when great sorrow like the present great sorrow seized the human heart that the Christian world feels the force of the old article of the Christian faith - "I believe in the resurrection of the flesh and in the life of the world to come." It is an article of the creed that the reasoning mind cannot at all grasp, but the heart can take in what the mind cannot; and the thought of the resurrection of the dead is the one consoling thought now to the thousands of mourning hearts for the 1600 so quickly and awfully buried on the deep of the sea. May He whose mercy endureth for ever have mercy upon their souls and bring them into eternal light from the depths and darkness of the ocean.
How little we can do for the dear dead whether they die the way of all the earth in failure and sickness or in war and battle or in some land or sea catastrophe; we can raise a moment expressing love and sorrow; we can pay their debts; we can comfort their orphans or, those near relatives who survive; we can pray for them, and that is all. The Christian world of London, New York, and elsewhere has shown itself earnest in the two last duties. Let that of prayer continue. To thousands of mourning hearts just now the dying words of King Arthur and his trusted Knight shall read true and sympathetic -
"I have lived my life and that which I have done,
May He within Himself make pure! but thou
If thou shouldst never see my face again.
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer.
Than this world dreams of. Therefore let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for one-night and day,
But now farewell, I am going a long way
To the island valley of Aoilion
Where falls not hail, or rain, nor any snow,
But bowry hollows crowned with summer sea
Where I will heal me of my grievous wound."
One main thought has forced itself on the writer, and doubtless has forced itself on others, and it tends to make the coldness of the sudden drowning more cold; namely, the manner in which the poor steerage passengers were neglected in the struggle for life. Of the first class women and children all were saved; of the second class women and children almost all were saved, of the third class women and children almost all were lost; of the 450 men steerage passengers only 50 or 60 were saved; and it has been sworn that several of the boats could have safely contained more people. The inquiry that has been held in New York, and that is now being conducted in London must be taken for what it is worth, like all inquiries. Even when there is no desire to state what is not true, yet the whole and real truth is hard to ascertain in every large inquiry. The evidence of Daniel Buckley, of Cork is unfortunately borne out by facts. His evidence is "that when the steerage passengers first tried to reach the upper decks they were met by sailors at the top of the ladder and thrown back by them." "Sometime after no obstacle was put in their way, and they ranged the decks at will." In reply to the question whether the steerage passengers had as much chance of being saved as the first and second class passengers, Buckley answered "yes, they had just as much chance." It is not easy to reconcile both his statements. But the sad fate remains that most of the steerage passengers went down with the ill-fated ship.
The Diocese of Killala is indented by many arms of the sea. Many of its families are in close touch with sea life, and knew something of "the sorrows of the sea." Some families in the diocese of Killala or in the neighbouring dioceses of Elphin and Achonry are heart rending weepers through the catastrophe. This being so the way is open to soften the sorrows of widows and orphans and of dependent old age caused by this tragedy of the deep. In England collections are being raised in every hamlet and village, as well as the great towns. Though there is not the money in Ireland that there is in England, yet there is a heart in Ireland but a thing like this needs a heading and to be set going.
"Are there no prison doors to ope,
No lambs to gather in th fold,
No treasure house of new and old
To meet each wish and crown each hope."