The chief part of little Molly’s religious lessons, I do not mean training, consisted in a prayer or two in rhyme, and a few verses of the kind then in use among catholics. Here is a prayer which her nurse taught her, as old, I take it, as Chaucer’s time at least:—
Hail be thou, Mary, that high
sittest in throne!
I beseech thee, sweet lady, grant me my boon—
Jesus to love and dread, and my life to amend soon,
And bring me to that bliss that never shall be done.
And here are some verses quite as old, which her mother taught her. I give them believing that in understanding and coming nearer to our fathers and mothers who are dead, we understand and come nearer to our brothers and sisters who are alive. I change nothing but the spelling, and a few of the forms of the words.
Jesu, Lord, that madest me,
And with thy blessed blood hast bought,
Forgive that I have grieved thee
With word, with will, and eke with thought.
Jesu, for thy wounds’
On feet and on thine hands two,
Make me meek and low of heart,
And thee to love as I should do.
Jesu, grant me mine asking,
Perfect patience in my disease,
And never may I do that thing
That should thee in any wise displease.
Jesu, most comfort for to
Of thy saints every one,
Comfort them that careful be,
And help them that be woe-begone.
Jesu, keep them that be good,
And amend them that have grieved thee,
And send them fruits of early food,
As each man needeth in his degree.
Jesu, that art, without lies,
Almighty God in trinity,
Cease these wars, and send us peace
With lasting love and charity.
Jesu, that art the ghostly
Of all holy church in middle-earth,
Bring thy folds and flocks in one,
And rule them rightly with one herd.
Jesu, for thy blissful blood,
Bring, if thou wilt, those souls to bliss
From whom I have had any good,
And spare that they have done amiss.
This old-fashioned hymn lady Margaret had learned from her grandmother, who was an Englishwoman of the pale. She also had learned it from her grandmother.
One day, by some accident, Dorothy had not reached her post of naiad before Molly arrived in presence of her idol, the white horse, her usual application to which was thence for the moment in vain. Having waited about three seconds in perfect patience, she turned her head slowly round, and gazed in her nurse’s countenance with large questioning eyes, but said nothing. Then she turned again to the horse. Presently a smile broke over her face, and she cried in the tone of one who had made a great discovery,
‘Horse has ears of stone: he cannot hear, Molly.’