صور الصفحة

of despair has paralyzed their efforts, even that is being effected, by the slow and imperceptible, but sure progress of Irish Scripture Readers. The cabin inmate is christianized, and thereby the turbulent, sanguinary rebel becomes a peaceable loyal subject, both to his earthly and his heavenly Ruler. The are is laid to the root; while it lopped the branches, its movements were alike conspicuous and vain: now they are equally retired and successful. To cut at the foundation of the evil, and to lay the foundation of the good work, we must go low; and with the lowly is wisdom. Let us keep our eye upon the operation, raise our heart to the Lord, and extend our hand to the workmen, unwearied as they are in well-doing; we shall then both see and share the sure and precious promise, “In due season ye shall reap, if ye saint not.”



AMong the things that I have most frequently noticed, and for which I cannot account, is the endless diversity of taste, as regards that luxury of creation, the colouring of natural objects, or perhaps I should say the natural colouring of objects. Many good people, I know, nice people too, and amiable, who if you point out to them something on which all the glory of divine tinting has been lavished, will smile, with a benevolent pleasure at seeing you pleased: assent in an easy way to the justness of your admiration; look for a few seconds in the direction pointed out, and then transfer the careless gaze to any other thing, without betraying a consciousness of having lost any gratification by so doing. This renders my garden enjoyments rather unsocial: for although nobody can help assenting to the remarks called forth by those exquisite productions of Almighty skill— unless indeed some cynical mortal whose miserable satisfaction is promoted by checking the delights of others—still it is hard to meet with those who can luxuri

ate in the petal of perhaps, some very common flower, so richly as not to make me dread the imputation of an affected extravagance, if I allow my own light to appear. Has any reader, whose eyes perform their office rightly, failed to notice the perfection of beauty contained in an autumnal combination which few can avoid stumbling upon: a large, full cluster of ripe, black grapes, with the untouched bloom purpling each luscious globe, and a bouquet, basket, or pyramid of double Dahlias 2 If this has escaped your scrutiny, gentle friend, bear it in mind, when the season again comes round, and try whether the utmost stretch of your imagination could suggest an addition, in the particulars of form, colouring, shading, and finishing off, as the artists term it, to what you have grouped. This spectacle, however, partakes in the character of the season: though spotless white, gleaming yellow, glowing scarlet, and airy lilac be mingled in your collection, still, if you impartially admit all the prevailing tints of that splendid flower, you will confess that less of summer brightness than of autumnal seriousness pervades the whole: it is more solid than gay; but still beautiful, so exceedingly beautiful that you may marvel at the miracle of love which has placed such an object in your sin-defiled path through an evil and rebellious world. But brighter scenes were in my thoughts when commencing this paper: flowers and fruit alone, lovely as they are, do not comprise the charms of colouring which it puzzles me to see any one regard with mere acquiescent approval. The British Museum would be my refuge, during the winter months, only for the chilling effect produced by the sang-froid, with which l am obliged to see many an eye run over the most dazzling objects, in the mineral and zoological departments especially. There are specimens of ore, crystalization, and gems that might almost be expected to cry out against those who cast on them a furtive glance, and walk on ; and there is plumage adorning the smaller families of birds, that surpasses gem and flower, inasmuch as it combines the most exquisite beauties of both. I might specify those among the race of humming-birds which really add

[ocr errors]

the highest lustre of the emerald, the ruby, the topaz, the amethyst, to more than the downy softness of the damask roseleas. I look up and marvel, as the delicately formed head of the giraffe rises above me on its elegant tapering neck, to a height that makes the tallest man a pigmy: I look forward and tremble, as the whale's huge jaws unfold their memorable portal, or the rhinoceros points his spear-like horn, or the formidable tusks curve upwards from the skeleton elephant: but I look down, and rejoice, with a full flow of adoring praises, when those countless colours that laugh to scorn the thought of imitation, gleam upon me from that minute compendium of all glorious loveliness, the little specks of humming-birds, intermingled as they are with larger specimens of what man cannot do, at the end of six thousand years: but what God did in one short day at their beginning. I have seen them on the wing, sar across the Atlantic, where the switstness of their motion scarcely allowed me to catch one flash of their gorgeous dyes. They were like those “things unknown,” which the poet's imagination sometimes “bodies forth,” and then loses the sparkling thought before he can give it “a local habitation and a name.” I was told how to catch the flitting gems; but I would almost as soon have pulled, if I were able, a star out of the sky: and often did I plead for them with those who felt not my scruples. Those were days of earthly sorrow and suffering, and spiritual darkness, when fancy alone ministered the delusive opiate, where heavenly balsam was unknown and undesired. Fancy has long since been discarded, as a worthless quack, laden with poisonous drugs; but all the beauteous things of creation seem doubly yea trebly endeared ; their loveliness grows upon my sense, and rejoices my heart; and those which were always jewels to the unsanctified mind, are now, with the burnish of a tenfold lustre from the hand that formed them, the mystic gems of Aaron's breast-plate, made holy unto the Lord, and presented before him as a pledge of his own faithfulness towards the Israel of his choice. This is an entire discursion from the legitimate subject-matter of my paper; but the reader shall know the nature of the

[ocr errors]

Ignas fatuus that has led my pen astray. Perched upon its little ivory stand, just before me, is a bona fide humming-bird, so far at least as the outward form and plumage constitutes the creature, excellently stuffed, “with wings outspread, and forward breast,” and I really do not know what precious stone, besides the emerald, might venture to gleam beside it; for, in addition to the very concentration of living green covering the head and breast, there is, upon the throat, what seems to have been caught from the sun's disc, when he sinks in burning crimson behind a mountain's peak. If any one is kind enough to bestow her pity upon me, for falling under the fascination of a stuffed bird, not half so big as our smallest wren, I accept the gift; and gratefully return it, with interest; for pitiable beyond my powers of computation, is the individual who could resist it. The garden is dreary now: frost whetted a bright sword on the evening of the sixth of November, and triumphed, despite of the warmth diffused by our fireworks, which the reverence due to the Lord’s day had prevented our discharging on the fifth. Those who are happy enough to be under ministers neither afraid nor ashamed to acknowledge the merciful interposition of the Most High-twice repeated to mark the day more emphatically as one of national and individual deliverance,—raised high the voice of devout thanksgiving in what would, but for that interposition, now have been temples of idols, with the abomination that maketh desolate standing where it ought not. Those who for reasons best known to their spiritual guides, were denied the privilege on which they had calculated, the enjoyment of which was secured to them, as they considered, by the law of the land, while by the law of God its use was made an imperative duty—those disappointed Protestants, thus unexpectedly coerced into an apparent crime of ingratitude and apostacy, from which their inmost souls revolted-I suppose, assembled in their own homes as many as could be there accommodated, and went through the whole of that beautiful service appointed for the day, consoled by knowing that the Lord accepts at the hand of his people not according to that which

[ocr errors]

they have not, but according to that which they have: that he saw they were not consenting to the purpose and deed of such as despised the ordinance, and that they would rather have performed the most wearisome pilgrimage to join the flock of another minister, than have entered the door of their own church, on that morning, could they have foreseen even as probable, such a violence to their conscientious feelings. Truly we live in sifting days. Well, on Monday the bonfires blazed, the squibs exploded; the rockets ascended, and one would have thought the atmosphere was warmed for the next four-andtwenty hours: but Jack Frost, as he is familiarly called, though one can hardly see how he is likely to gain any thing by flattering the ultra-liberalism of the Ins, took a decided part against the Outs, and cut down that nightnot only all my remaining dahlias, but a whole bevy of green-house plants, entrusted till the morrow to the treacherous unsafe keeping of an open arbour in my garden. “Ah,” says the prudent reader, “if you had been housing your plants instead of encouraging your boys to flash gunpowder in the faces of her Majesty's more liberal lieges, this would not have happened.” Very true: I thought of that at the time. But be it known to you my sage friend, that, dearly as 1 love flowers, and doubly precious as are at this season those which would smile upon me here when all without is dark with clouds or white with snow, far, far dearer to me is the privilege of using any means to keep alive in the young hearts of those boys a continual remembrance of whatsoever bears upon this subject. “When I was a child,” says Paul, “I thought as a child, I understood as a child.” The imagination and understanding of children are sooner reached through such simple observances: our forefathers were not the fools we are pleased to consider and tacitly declare them to have been. My plants were cut off: but, by the blessing of God, the boys will grow up to be better plants than they: and the Lord grant that each of them may plant his foot upon the rock of true Protestantism, and that the voices which merrily huzza'd the rockets shooting through the air, may be listed in the loudest fullest WOL. II. 31

tones of manly power to shout the song of holy exultation over the rescued souls whom they may be chosen to snatch from the iron furnace of Antichristian Rome. “This is a chapter on birds, or a chapter on gunpowder; but what has it to do with your favourite theme of flowers ?” Patience; amid the wreck of my little store one plant escaped, and with it a full tuft of bright blossoms. It was a small scarlet geranium, which seems to have thought its British regimentals demanded a bold stand against Jack Frost. I freely confess that while writing the foregoing, I have felt rather more pugnacious than properly accords with the usual subjects of these papers: but the recollections appertaining to the GERANIUM will smooth down all asperities, and here I summon before me the bushy profusion of one stout old plant of the horse-shoe kind, as it stood in the low, wide window of Jane W’s neat little cottage bedroom, an object on which my eye so often fell, both by day and by night, that I seemed to have a particular acquaintance with each several leaf. Jane was a smart, pretty girl, whose smiling face and plump figure alike expressed the good-humour that characterized her disposition. She had lived as nurse-maid in the happy home that for a time sheltered me; and her special charge was the youngest-born of the beloved brother whose presence made that home so happy. The short season of domestic enjoyment closed: the household were scattered in various directions; and Jane became the wise of a young peasant. I was not aware of her location, until a year after her marriage, I was asked whether I knew how ill she was ; and whether, as she had been a thoughtless, lively, though always strictly modest girl, I did not think it would be well to visit her. On enquiry, I found that I had only to cross about a mile of the wild, beautiful heath that bordered on my dwelling, to reach her abode. I went, and in one of the neatest cottages for its size that the hand of rustic love could have prepared for a blooming bride, I found her, in bed, in the inner of the two apartments that composed the house. Nothing could exceed the joyousness of her welcome, when beholding me, accompanied with one of those whom it had been her province to tend upon in former days: and followed by the dumb boy, always a special favourite of Jane's. I was delighted by the warmth of her reception, but startled to behold the change in her appearance. She had been rather coarselooking, with an embrowned and freckled complexion; she was then fair as a lily, with a tint too beautifully glowing on her dimpled cheeks; and the flashing brilliancy of her dark clear eyes oppressed me. She told me that she had been ill, dangerously ill, from exposing herself to the chilling air on a damp day, before she was sufficiently recovered to leave her room with safety; that her baby seemed also to have taken cold; “but now,” she added, “I am getting quite well again, only the doctor wishes me to keep still a while longer.” “Well, Jane, you cannot do better than obey the kind doctor's directions: and, meanwhile, if you like it, I will come and read to you something while you are laid by.” “Oh, pray do, ma'am: it is so pleasant to see you near me; and to see them also,” looking at Jack, and at the little one beside me. Recollections not to be suppressed suffused her eyes with tears; and I felt that I must have recourse to my precious companion, the Bible, which I drew forth, and without farther preface commenced reading, I think, the eighth chapter of St. Matthew.

On the other side of the bed, sate a very respectable-looking woman, whose appearance greatly pleased me: I remarked that when I began reading, she drew back, and concealed her face behind the curtain. Having finished, and received from Jane many smiling thanks, with an earnest invitation to come again very soon, I withdrew, followed by the woman before-mentioned, to whom, when fairly out of Jane's hearing, I anxiously said, “Do you think, nurse, that she is in no danger ?” “Oh, ma'am, I fear she is in great danger, but she does not suspect it: the inflammation has fallen on her lungs. Many a sad hour I have passed beside her; but, oh, how joyful I felt when you took out that blessed book, and my child seemed delighted to listen to it!” “What, are you Jane's mother?” “I am, and she has been the child of many prayers, I may say from before her birth, both to her dear father and me, but we have never yet seen any token of spiritual-mindedness in her.

Will you carry on this work in the Lord's name, and tell my poor girl of the Saviour, who, I do trust, will have her yet?” “God be praised,” said I, “If I have the prayers of Christian parents in the work, I will never, the Lord helping me, give it up from this moment.” I returned to my post next day: Jane was flushed and restless, and her welcome more than cordial. “I hardly thought you would come again this hot day: but mother was sure you would.” She gave a bad account of her chest and side; and seemed to delight in telling me her case. When I drew out the book, she evidently prepared to listen more through respect and gratitude, than from any inclination for that employment: but a look of deep anguish from her mother had told me the tale of present danger, and I resolved to proceed decisively. My first object was to convince her of the necessity of a new birth: but she seemed rather to dislike the task of examining herself in the character of a corrupt child of Adam. I then proceeded to that most precious portion of God's word, which I have seen blessed far beyond any other: “As Moses listed up the serpent in the wilderness,” &c. and went on to describe, in the most vivid manner that I could, the scene in the camp of wounded Israelites, with the remedy provided, and the various ways in which that divinely appointed remedy was received or rejected. I never can forget the extraordinary change that came over Jane's fine countenance while she listened. For a time she had kept her eyes on my face, and, through the shooting of frequent pains in the chest, and perhaps a want of interest in the matter, she had tossed about and changed her position many times. Af. ter a while, just as I endeavoured most pointedly to transfer the type, to the glorious Antitype, and to express the sublime simplicity of the command, Look on the brazen serpent and live—“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” she withdrew her gaze from me, and raised it with an intent look to the vacant space between the bed's soot and the wall, as though she had been contemplating some object there, while the former restlessness of her body gave place to the stillness of death. I thought at one time she had totally withdrawn her attention: and gently asking, “Are you tired Jane 7"

[ocr errors]

received a fervent grasp from the hand that rested on my arm, a look, quick, as lightning, and an almost vehement “No.” A glance over the pillow showed me the mother, her hands clasped, her head bent forward, and such a look fixed on her child as none perhaps, but a mother could give. This roused me to redoubled earnestness; I spoke to Jane personally. I told her of the Saviour whom she needed, the ransom paid for her, the certainty of acceptance if she came, the inevitable consequences of refusing the call. After that I prayed: and by that bedside I sat and read, and prayed, every day and every second night, for nearly three weeks. Rapid was the sinking of this dear girl; and very dreadful her bodily sufferings; but nothing were they compared with the depth of self. abasement in which she lay at the foot of the Saviour's cross, the acute anguish of an awakened conscience—awakened too by considering the vastness of the price paid for her redemption, and measuring her guilt by its expiation. “Pray—pray.” were the first words with which she greeted me, ever after that day. “Pray –pray,” was the last sob of her expiring breath: and after she was so reduced as to be unable even to whisper that word, she managed to point with dying finger to the spot where I used to kneel; and her glazing eyes were restless until, though so exhausted I could hardly bend my knee, she saw me there in the attitude of supplication. She gave but one unequivocal proof of that confidence which we so longed to discern in her mind; when her poor little baby, suffering almost as much as herself was laid to her dying cheek, for the mother's last kiss, she prayed, “Oh, my Saviour, take my baby too ! Let my baby come with me to heaven to The last few moments of her mortal existence were marked by a character of the deepest peace I ever witnessed—calm, solid, settled, conscious peace. She became most beautiful: a nobleness of expression overspread her countenance, and the last sign for me to kneel and pray seemed rather one to kneel and praise. She laid her head on her dear mother's shoulder, and with a look of indescribable energy and sweetness, breathed out, “To my Father.” Some of the bystanders interpreted it as a message of love to her

earthly father: I think it was meant otherwise. Be that as it may, we had no misgivings, no fears, no doubts. Her parents remarked that the way in which the word of salvation had been sent together with the message of death was too striking for us to mistake it. She lies in a rustic grave, with her dear little baby close by: it lingered and pined, under the tender care of its excellent grandmother, in her comfortable house—for they were highly respectable people—but Jane's prayer had been accepted, and the little infant followed her to heaven.

The homely horse-shoe geranium will ever be dear to me, above many of its brighter brethren: for it formed the curtain of Jane's little window, and was a cherished favourite of hers. I scattered some of its flowers over the beautiful corpse, and rejoiced in the wonderful work of Him who had planted her, a tree of righteousness in the garden of his glorious kingdom.



The new year is in the path of life, like one of those little alcoves, or rustic benches, placed at intervals amid the beauties of some vast and picturesque domain, where the visiter is invited to rest awhile, and to contemplate from points of interest the scenery through which he is passing. We walk as along a vista, where the onward prospect is wrapped in impenetrable darkness: but what we have already trod lies open, under a broad beam, inviting retrospection: and, to me at least, every ensuing stage of the progress imparts an aspect of more mellowed loveliness to that which lies in the distance. I look back and realize in all their minutiae those scenes which my foot can never—never tread again. Or, if it should be mine to revisit the bare scenery of those endeared spots, so changed they are—so stripped of all that rendered them precious, or so altered are my own circumstances, feelings and prospects, that they would at best appear like the dry, artificially preserved

« السابقةمتابعة »