« السابقةمتابعة »
advantage. A treaty of commerce and friendship was established between them and the Spaniards ; by which the latter have not only got rid of a troublesome enemy on their frontiers, but likewise derive great advantages by trading with them for gold and emeralds.
27. Thus the benevolence and virtue of one man could accomplish, what the politics of the fraudulent might in vain have attempted. Happy would it be for mankind, if maxims so obvious, and principles so gratifying to the well-turned mind, were rather more general ! But the present interest, with most men, outweighs all distant consideration, however great ; and it is, perhaps, impossible to convince the world in general, tbat conscience and interest are perfectly reconcileable to each other.
The Snow Storm. 1. Two cottagers, husband and wife, were sitting by their cheerful fireside, one winter's evening, in a small lonely hut, og the edge of a wide moor, at some miles distance from any other habitation. This lonely but now sent up its smoke into the clear winter sky—and its little end window, lighted up, was the only ground star that shone towards the belated trayeller, if any such ventured to cross, on a winter night, a scene so dreary and desolate.
2. The affairs of the small household were all arranged for the night.
The little rough poney, that had drawn in a sledge, loaded with fuel, and the little Highland cow, whose milk enabled them to live, were standing amicably together. Within, the clock ticked cheerfully, as the fire light reached its old oak-wood case across the yellow sanded floor; and a small round table stood between, covered with a snow-white cloth, on which were milk and oat cake, the morning, mid-day, and evening meal of these frugal and contented cottagers. The spades and the mattocks of the labourer were collected into one corner, and showed that the succeeding day was the blessed Sabbath ; while on the wooden chimney-piece was seen lying an open bible ready for family worship.
3. The father and the mother were sitting together, without opening their lips, but with their hearts overflowing with happiness, for on this Saturday-night they were, every minute, expecting to hear at the latch the hand of their only daughter, who was at service with a farmer, over the hills. This dutiful child was, as they knew, to bring home to them “ her hard earned penny fee," a pittance which, in the beauty of her girlhood, she earned singing at her work, and which, in the benig
nity of that sinless time, she would pour with tears into the bosoms she so dearly loved.
4. Forty shillings a year were all the wages of sweet Hannah Lee; but, though she wore at her labour a tortoise shell comb in her auburn hair, and though in the kirk none were more becomingly arrayed than she, one half, at least, of her earnings were to be reserved for the holiest of all purposes, and her kind innocent heart was gladdened when she looked on the little purse that was, on the long expected Saturday night, to be taken from her bosom, and put, with a blessing, into the hand of her father, now growing old at his daily toils.
5. Of such a child the happy cottagers were thinking in their silence. And well might they be called happy. It is at that sweet season that filial piety is most beautiful. Their own Hannah had just outgrown the mere unthinking gladness of child. hood, but had not yet reached that time, when inevitable selfishness mixes with the pure current of love. The father rose from his seat, and went to the door to look out into the night. The stars were in thousands ; and the full moon was risen. It was almost light as day, and the snow, that seemed encrusted with diamonds, was so hardened by the frost, that his daughter's homeward feet would leave no mark on its surface. Returning to the fireside, they began to talk of her whose image had been so long passing before them in their silence.
6. While the parents were speaking of their daughter, a loud gust of wind came suddenly over the cottage, and the leafless ash-tree, under whose shelter it stood, creaked and groaned dig. mally, as it passed by. The father started up, and going again to the door," saw that a sudden change had come over the face of the night. The moon had nearly disappeared, and was just visible in a dim glimmering sky.
All the remote stars were obscured, and one or two faintly appeared, in a sky, that half an hour before, was perfectly cloudless ; but the whole atmosphere was now in commotion, and mist and sleet were driven rapidly, by a furious wind. He stood for a single moment to observe the direction of this unforeseen storm, and then hastily asked for his staff. "I thought I had been more weatherwise. A storm is coming, and we shall have nothing but a wild night.' He then whistled for his dog--an old sheep-dog, too old for its former labours and set off to meet his daughter, who might then, for aught he knew, be crossing the Black-moss.
7. The mother accompanied her husband to the door, and took a long frightened look at the angry sky. As she kept gazing, it became still more terrible. The last shred of blue was
extinguished--the wind went whirling in roaring eddies, and great flakes of snow circled about in the middle air, whether drifted
from the ground, or driven down from the clouds, the fear-stricken mother knew not, but she at least knew, that it seemed a night of danger, despair, and death. Lord have mercy on us, James, what will become of our poor child!' But her husband heard not her words, for he was already out of sight, in the snow storm, and she was left to the terrour of her own soul in that lonesome cottage.
8. Littlé Hannah Lee had left her master's house, soon as the rim of the great moon was seen rising, like a joyful dream, over the gloomy mountain tops ; and all alone she tripped along beneath the beauty of the silent heaven. Still as she kept ascending and descending the knolls that lay in the bosom of the glen, she sang to herself a song, a bymn, or a psalm. There were none to hear her voice, or see her smiles, but the ear and eye of Providence.
9. As on she glided, and took her looks from heaven, she saw her own little fireside-her parents waiting for her arrival the bible opened for worship-her own little room, kept so neatly for her, with its mirror hanging by the window, in which to braid her hair by the morning light-her bed prepared for her by her mother's hand—the primroses in her garden peeping through the snow-old Tray, who ever welcomed her home with his dim white
friends all, and inmates of that happy household. So stepped she along, while the snow diamonds glittered around her feet, and the frost wove a wreath of lucid pearls around her forehead.
10. She had now reached the edge of the Black-moss, which lay half way between her master's and her father's dwelling, when she heard a loud noise coming down the Glen, and in a few seconds, she felt on her face some flakes of snow. She looked
up and saw the snow storm coming fast as a flood. She felt no fears ; but she ceased her song; and had there been a human eye to look upon her there, it might have seen a shadow on her face. She continued her course, and felt bolder and bolder every step that brought her nearer to her parent's house.
11. But the snow storm had now reached the Black-moss, and the broad line of light that had lain in the direction of her home, was soon swallowed up, and the child was in utter darkness. She heard nothing but one wild, fierce, fitful howl. The cold became intense, and her little feet and hands were benumbed with cold. At last she could no longer discern a single
thark on the snow, either of human steps, or of sheep-track, or the foot print of a wild fowl. Suddenly, too, she felt out of breath, and exhausted, and shedding tears, at last sank down in the snow.
12. It was now that her heart began to quake for fear. She remembered stories of shepherds lost in the snow of a mother and child frozen to death on that very moor. Bitterly did the poor child weep; for death was terrible to her, who, though poor, enjoyed the bright little world of youth and innocence. She had been happy at her work-happy in her sleep-happy in her kirk on Sabbath. But now there was to be an end to all this she was to be frozen to death and lie there till the thaw might come, and then her father would find her corpse,and carry
to be buried in the kirk-yard. 13. The tears were frozen on her cheeks as soon as shed and scarcely had her little hands strength to clasp themselves together, as the thought of an overruling and merciful Providence came across her heart. I will repeat the Lord's prayer.'
And drawing her plaid more closely around her, she whis. pered beneath its ineffectual cover: 'Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' Had human aid been within fifty yards, it could have been of no avail ; eye could not see her; ear could not hear in that howling darkness. But that low prayer was heard in the centre of eternity- and that little sinless child was lying in the snow, beneath the all-seeing eye of God.
14. The maiden having prayed to her father in heaven, then thought of her father on earth. Alas! they were not far separated. The father was lying but a short distance from his child. He too had sunk down in the drifting snow, after having, in less than an hour, exhausted all the strength of fear, pity, love, despair, and resignation, that could rise in a father's heart, blindly seeking to rescue his only child from death, thinking that one desperate exertion might enable them to perish in each other's arms. There they lay within a stone's throw of each other, while a huge snow drift was every moment piling itself up between the dying parent, and his dying child.
15. There was all this while a blazing fire in the cottagea white spread table--and beds prepared for the family to lie
down Yet was she who sat therein more to be pitied, than the old man and the child, stretched out
. I will not go to seek them that would be tempting Providence,
upon the snow.
and wilfully putting out the lamp of life. No! I will here abide, and pray
for their souls !' Then as she knelt down, she looked at the useless fire burning away so cheerfully, when all she loved might be dying of cold ; and unable to bear the thought, she shrieked out a prayer, as if she might pierce the sky up to the very throne of God, and send with it, her own miserable soul to plead before him for the deliverance of her child and husband. She then fell down in blessed forgetfulness of all trouble, in the midst of the solitary cheerfulness of that brightburning hearth, while the bible, which she had been trying to read in the pauses of her agony, remained clasped in her hands.
16. Hannah Lee had been a servant for more than six months. Soon after she had left the house, her master's son, a youth who had been among the hills, looking after the sheep, came home, and was disappointed to find that he had lost an opportunity of accompanying Hannah part of the way to her father's cottage. But the hour of eight had gone by, and not even the company of young William Grieve could induce the kind hearted daughter to delay setting out on her journey, a few minutes after the time promised. • I do not like the night,' said William ; there will be a fresh fall of snow soon, for a snow cloud is hanging o'er the Birch-tree-linn, and it may be down to the Black-moss as soon as Hannah Lee.' So he called his two sheep dogs, that had taken their place under the long table before the window, and set out, half in fear, to overtake Hannah, and see her safely across the Black-moss.
17. The snow began to drift so fast, that before he had reached the head of the Glen, there was nothing to be seen but a small part of the wooden rail of the bridge across the Burn. William Grieve was the most active shepherd in a large pastoral parish; he had often passed the night among the wintry hills for the sake of a few sheep, and all the snow that ever fell from heaven would not have made him turn back when Hannah Lee was before him; and, as his terrified heart told him, in immigent danger of being lost. As he advanced, he felt that it was no longer a walk of love or friendship, for which he would bave been glad as an excuse. Death stared him in the face, and his young soul, now beginning to feel all the passions of youth, was filled with phrenzy.
18. He had seen Hannah every day; at the fireside; at work ; in the kirk; on holidays; at prayers ; bringing supper to his aged parents ; smiling and singing about the house from morning to night. She had often brought his own meal to him, among the hills, and he now found that he loved her beyond father or