“Justin McCarthy in his concise and interesting work, Ireland’s cause in England’s Parliament,” says: “There is a charming poem by my friend William Allingham, called Lawrence Bloomfield in Ireland,” in which we find a classic story, thrillingly told, as an illustration of the hero’s feeling on some subject of interest to his country. A Roman Emperor is persecuted by the petition of a poor widowed woman, who prays for redress of some wrong done to her and her children. The great emperor is far too great, his mind is taken up too much with questions of imperial interest, to have any leisure for examining into, or even for reading, this poor woman’s claim.
One morning he is riding forth of his palace gates, at the head of his splendid retinue, and the widow comes in his way, right in his path, and holds up her petition again, and implores him to read it. He will not read, and is about to pass scornfully on, when she flings herself on the ground before him, herself and her little children, just in front of his horse’s hoofs, and she declares that if he will not stay and hear her prayer, he shall not pass on his way unless he passes over the bodies of herself and children.
And then says Mr. Allingham, “the Roman,” who must have had something of the truly imperial in him, “wheeled his horse and heard.”
Margaret Godfrey, the poor widowed woman, took up the petition of her husband, and continued to pray for redress of wrong done her husband, herself, and her children. For twenty years she continued in her prayer. Read what the poor widowed woman says in another part of her letter to her daughter-in-law, and see if the truly imperial is to be found in a King or in England’s noblemen, who for twenty years “heard and wheeled.”
“I have been sick all winter and not able to help myself, and am very ill at present. My illness has almost turned me, but if I had but half a leg I’ll do my duty toward my family.”
In another letter written to her daughter-in-law not long after the first, she says: “Tell Charles if he ever visits the mouth of the St. John or old Fort Frederick, not to neglect for his mother’s sake to visit the grave of Paul Guidon. He knows the locality and may be able to detect the spot where the hero sleeps. In my thoughts, God knows how often I linger about that spot. Sacred indeed must be the earth that mingles with the dust of such nobility. Were I present I would adorn his last resting place with the early spring flowers. Many wintry storms have passed above his grave. Spring time and summer have come and gone, but he heeds them not.