Character Comment – Therefore by their fruits you will know them, Part 5

Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:20) – Part 5

We have been following up on “Our Daily Life” by T.S. Arthur, discussing the necessity of work. A wonderful illustration of this is found in the following story. The author is withheld until the next installment.

Patches of God Light – Part 1

I have heard of many reasons why people step back from the verge of suicide, but the one that has meant the most to my family is also the most unusual—the fascination of seeing work done.

The young woman was eighteen years old, with two small children, and evidently vivacious, talented, and beautiful. But she was also orphaned, penniless, completely alone, away from home, and recently widowed in a duel that rocked her country and drove her into voluntary exile. So Jane Lucretia D’Esterre could be forgiven for her dark thoughts as she pondered the waters of the little river in Ecclefechan, Scotland. Pain ran through every fiber of her being. Despair filled her horizon. Death beckoned her with an offer of peace as alluring as the still depths of the water in front of her.

The year was 1815, the time of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon at Waterloo. Dueling was still legal in England and Ireland, though increasingly frowned upon socially. But Jane Lucretia first heard of the duel that shattered her life when friends carried her dying husband into the house.

By all accounts, John Frederick D’Esterre, a candidate for the post of city sheriff was an undistinguished member of the Dublin Corporation, but a deadly shot with a pistol. Rashly, however, he had taken exception to Daniel O’Connell’s attack on the corporation and challenged the great Irish liberator to a duel. O’Connell, almost twice D’Esterre’s size and the people’s champion, refused at first but was eventually goaded into accepting, although he was known as a poor shot.

The fateful rendezvous took place twelve miles west of Dublin on a snowy late afternoon in February before the assembled carriages of the Dublin Corporation and a crowd of watching peasants.

D’Esterre won the toss, fired first, and uncharacteristically missed, his shot ricocheting off the ground at O’Connell’s feet. O’Connell then fired, deliberately aiming low, but hit D’Esterre in the groin. The corporation champion fell writhing to the ground and was carried home. “Mr. D’Esterre’s wound is considered dangerous,” the Dublin Journal reported, “the ball has not been extracted.” In fact, D’Esterre died the next day, having uttered words of forgiveness to O’Connell as a gentleman was expected to do.

O’Connell, however, could not forgive himself. Remorseful for the rest of his life, he is said to have taken communion from then on wearing a black glove on the hand that had fired the fatal shot. On visiting the young widow, O’Connell offered her a share of his income. She refused with a quiet dignity though for thirty years until his death he paid a small annuity to her daughter.

Jane Lucretia D’Esterre, was from a family of musicians, probably Jewish, who had come to England and then Ireland from southern Germany. Her father was leader of George III’s Court Band and of the Handel festivals at Westminster Abbey. Her half- brother Johann was a pianist so admired by Handel that, as the great composer said, “All the rest went for nothing.”

But none of that counted that day as Jane D’Esterre gazed into the dark depths of the river. For some reason, however, she looked up and…        

                                                                                                                                                                 …to be continued.