Presence of Mind Sermon Illustrations

Presence of Mind Sermon Illustrations

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Miss Bailly

A few days before the battle of Falkirk, so disastrous to the English army, Lord Loudon made a bold attempt to seize the Pretender at Moy, a castle belonging to the chief of the clan of Mackintosh, about six miles from Inverness, where he was then staying, and where he conceived himself in perfect security. His lordship would probably have succeeded in this design, but for the singular courage and presence of mind of a young girl. While some English officers were drinking in the house of Mrs. Bailly, an innkeeper in Inverness, and passing the time till the hour of setting out for the intended capture, her daughter, a girl of about thirteen or fourteen years of age, who happened to wait on them, paid great attention to their conversation, and from certain expressions which they dropped she discovered their design. As soon as she could do so unobserved, she left the house, escaped from the town, notwithstanding the vigilance of the sentinels, and took the road to Moy, running as fast as she was able, without shoes or stockings, which to accelerate her progress she had taken off, in order to inform the Prince of the danger which menaced him. She reached Moy, quite out of breath, before Lord Loudon and his troops; and the Prince had just time to escape, in his robe-de-chambre, nightcap, and slippers, to the neighbouring mountains, where he passed the night in concealment. This girl, to whom the Prince owed his life, was in great danger of losing her own, from the excessive fatigue and excitement; but by care and attention she eventually recovered.


Servant at Noyon

Some years ago, an instance of humanity and presence of mind occurred at a place called Noyon, in France, which well deserves to be commemorated. Four men, who were employed in cleansing a sewer, were so affected by the fœtid vapours, that they were unable to ascend. The lateness of the hour (for it was eleven at night) rendered it difficult to procure assistance, and the delay must have been fatal, had not a young girl, a servant in the family, at the hazard of

her own life, attempted their deliverance. This generous girl, who was only seventeen years of age, was, at her own request, let down several times to the poor men by a rope: she was so fortunate as to save two of them, but, in tying the third to the cord, which was let down to her for that purpose, she found her breath failing, and was so much affected by the vapour as to be in danger of suffocation. In this dreadful situation, she had the presence of mind to tie herself by her hair to the rope, and was drawn up almost expiring, with the poor man in whose behalf she had so humanely exerted herself. The corporation of the town of Noyon, as a small token of their approbation, presented the generous girl with six hundred livres, and conferred on her the civic crown, with a medal engraved with the arms of the town, her name, and a narrative of the action. The Duke of Orleans also sent her five hundred livres, and settled two hundred yearly on her for life.


King James the Fourth of Scotland, who used often to amuse himself in wandering about the country in different disguises, was once overtaken by a violent storm in a dark night, and obliged to take shelter in a cavern near Wemys. Having advanced some way in it, the king discovered a number of men and women ready to begin to roast a sheep, by way of supper. From their appearance, he began to suspect that he had not fallen into the best of company; but, as it was too late to retreat, he asked hospitality from them till the tempest was over. They granted it, and invited the king, whom they did not know, to sit down, and take part with them. They were a band of robbers and cut-throats. As soon as they had finished their supper, one of them presented a plate, upon which two daggers were laid in form of a St. Andrew's cross, telling the king, at the same time, that this was the dessert which they always served to strangers; that he must choose one of the daggers, and fight him whom the company should appoint to attack him. The king did not lose his presence of mind, but instantly seized the two daggers, one in each hand, and plunged them into the hearts of the two robbers who were next him; and running full speed to the mouth of the cavern, he escaped from their pursuit, through the obscurity of the night. The rest of the band were seized next morning and hanged.

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