Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

Past and Present
Ezra Healy

This name always seemed to me to have something substantial in it, and to need no prefix to give it dignity. And certain it is, that the bare mention of it will call up in the recollection of many persons in this Province the idea of a portly, muscular man, of good proportion, and somewhere in the neighbourhood of six feet, (he did not appear to be quite that—it might be because he was so stout), of handsome masculine features, florid complexion, hair with a little tendency to curl, high full forehead, and a head largely developed in the region in which phrenologists locate the moral faculties. Indeed it was a fine well-balanced head in all respects. And if physical stamina ia an important accession to intellectual power, he had this advantage to an extent which few can boast. ITe was the very picture of health itself—possessing a powerful frame, and an excellent constitution. The vital organs were apparently proportioned in strength to the external members; and he used to say, his “Jungs would wear as long as his legs” The reader will not be surprised to hear, that he had a strong, clear, musical, reverberating voice, of such great compass that it could as easily command the ears of an assembly of five or six thousand as of half a dozen. The “ camp-ground ” was the appropriate theatre for this stentorian orator—a place he was wont and glad to frequent, and where he was always a favourite. And orator he was—one of nature's own. But if the writer were requested to classify his preaching, he would find it very difficult to do so. Few would venture to call it great, yet all liked to hear him. His expositions were not very satisfactory to well educated, reflecting persons, yet many thought them wonderful. He was not methodical either; and often his matter was much confused and jumbled up. Yet Healy would be listened to with attention, and often with tears and shouts of joy. The fact is, he had a warm affectionate heart, overflowing with pathos and the “milk of human kindness and a lively, if not a lofty imagination, with a great amount of religious fervour. These qualifications, with a deliberate, commanding delivery, without much mental discipline or culture, although he was a pretty extensive reader, made him the truly popular, impressive preacher. His commanding “ port and presence,” with his affability and kindness, made him a general favourite among the people both in and out of our communion; and furnished such an excellent substitute for a polite education as to cause him to be respected by the most genteel. He was so great a favourite as to lead a person to say, “ That the people would rather see Father Healy’s old white hat in the pulpit than any other preacher there in person.”

Healy was no doubt a man of sincere and fervent piety, yet I believe he passed current for a man of more moral worth than some other men, who, perhaps in “the balances of the sanctuary” would really weigh him down. Men of his naturally obliging disposition desire to please; and fondness of approbation may sometimes be brought to compliances, which men of less reputation for piety, but thoroughly under the influence of principle would entirely eschew. I do not say that the tendencies of his nature ever warped him from the straight forward course of duty, and it is certain, that whatever failings he may have had, they “leaned to virtue’s side.” We wish if possible to be candid and useful.

The writer has not many prominent incidents to relate of a man so bland, and quiet, and kindly as the subject of this sketch. He was laborious and punctual in his work, and no doubt suffered much in the bush circuits he travelled in the early part of his ministry. But he was strong and able to endure, and being loving and beloved, he passed quietly and pleasantly through life. About the only thing I can think of worth recording, in the way of incident, stands connected with the amiable in his nature. Healy was wont to love every thing around him. Among the rest, the faithful beast that carried him (no sinecure office) came in for a share, and the animal in return became attached to him. The first companion of his itinerancy, “Old Buck,” was a great favourite,—he kept him till he was blind. Buck, on one occasion showed an affection for his master and a reverence for divine worship, which Healy would sometimes relate in public, as an example worthy of imitation to certain gentry, who avail themselves of the precincts of the house of God, and the hours of Divine worship, to regale themselves with cakes and apples. The incident was this:—Healy’s circuit comprised the then newly settled townships between the Rideau and the Ottawa. Arriving at nightfall at his place of destination,—somewhere, I think, in the township of Goulbourn,—the people having no Shelter for the animal, put him in the far end of the shanty, and gave him a lock of some kind of provender, which he commenced eating, apparently with a good appetite.. But the shanty was not only used as a stable for the horse, and hotel for the visitor, but the place of worship for the neighbourhood. Soon the little congregation was assembled, and the preacher rose to commence the sermon. But no sooner did old Buck hear the sound of his master’s voice, as he slowly and deliberately read the hymn, than his teeth ceased their operations, and the sound produced by grinding the corn-stalks was suppressed, till the solemnities of worship were entirely through. Now whether it was from any sense of the occasion, whether it was out of respect only to the sound of his master’s voice, or whether it, was from the acknowledged power of music on the inferior animals; or from all these combined, I shall- leave for those who are more philosophic than I am, to determine; but of the fact itself, I believe there can be no question.

Healy’s death like that of Dr. Newton, comported with the early associations thit cluster around the men ijn of the man, There would have been something pitiful, in thinking of the athletic Healy in a state of feebleness and infirmity. He died with his natural force unabated, in the act of running to the assistance of a neighbor whose house was on fire. He fell suddenly, like the-giant oak uptorn by a sudden blast. Many a generous. he sighed, when it was said “Father Healy. is gone.” No doubt he was ready, and “sudden death,” to him, was "sudden glory.” He professed perfect love. His “children are walking in the truth.” And it constitutes an additional tie to heaven, to others as well as to them, that Ezra Healy is there.

Return to Book Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.