« ForrigeFortsett »
it to myself, but I was obliged to at last, and now I confess it to you, my readers—I had forgotten to wind it up! After all, then, it was my own fault, and not the clock's, that for so long a time I had been deprived of its company.
My little clock has a quick and merry way of tickingvery different from the heavy and ponderous “ tick, tick," of the “old clock on the stairs,” that stands in its case of oak, numbering the moments as they fly, and repeating in awful tones the gruesome song of
Never-forever!” But, although it ticks so pleasantly, and almost sings the hours when it strikes, it is constantly giving warning; and one of the warnings it gives is this
“Never lose a friend for want of care.” Ah ! how many a true friend has been lost by carelessness! How many a heart that might have been beating in unison with our own at the present time, has been repelled by some unkind word or even look, and thus has been estranged for ever. Like my timepiece, it only wanted a little attention at one time, but the opportunity was not grasped, and a friend was lost.
Then, again, how many a one has been misunderstood; how many a kind heart hurt and loving nature bruised for want of a little precaution on our side. Can any one of us feel satisfied that he has never misjudged another, as I misjudged my clock, and thought it was broken and useless, when the fault was all my own? My little timepiece was as perfect as ever ; it was ready to do its duty by me, if I only did mine by it; but I neglected to wind it up, and so it was silent.
And have not friends been driven away ; brothers and sisters made strangers for want of the little attention that was so easy to be given, but yet was withheld? And has not that Friend that sticketh closer than a brother been repelled from many a heart at which He has been knocking, and into which He would have entered and our country was not in such a quiet and peaceable state as it now is. We had been at war for a long time, and there were frequent threats of an invasion of England by her great enemy Napoleon the First of France; these threats kept the people quite in a ferment of excitement, and made our government careful have the army and navy well supplied with men. The great expense of keeping the country on a war footing caused much distress, by making everything very dear; and, added to this, there was one year an almost entire failure of the wheat crop all over the country, and bread became so high in price that many persons were brought to the verge of starvation; these poor people, driven to desperation by want, and urged on by unprincipled agitation, sometimes banded themselves together and committed many unlawful and wicked acts. Several mills in different parts of the country were attacked by them, and the corn and flour either carried off or destroyed. And it was no uncommon thing for a farmer who had managed to grow enough corn to store in his barns or stacks, to have these wilfully set on fire by men who fancied that these acts of wickedness would be for the good of the country, or else out of spite and envy against their more prosperous neighbours.
“You may be quite sure that with things in this state, those who had corn stored away had rather an anxious time.
“For a while the neighbourhood in which we lived had been remarkably quiet and free from the acts of violence I have described,
But it proved that we were not to be let alone, and in the winter of which I am going to tell you, when I was about twenty years old, our part of the country became as riotous any other.
“ Day after day we heard of some lawless deed, and sometimes at night we saw a red glare in the sky, which we knew was probably caused by the burning of some poor farmer's corn stacks.
“ These things made us anxious about our own mill, and
“Very touchingly did he pray that the country might be brought out of its present straits, and that the God of all nations would cause His face to shine once more upon our land; that He would succour the poverty-stricken and miserable, and forgive the lawless and sinful, and bring all to know and fear Him. Nor did he forget to commend himself and his family to the care of his Heavenly Father. Thus he constantly felt that he was under the protection of a Divine providence, and this gave him a calm and quiet that were unknown to those who had no such trust.
“I must now tell you that our mill was driven by a little stream that ran from the river a mile above, and returned to it again just below the mill. This stream formed a boundary to our meadows on one side, and they were bounded on the other by the river ; the little piece of land thus enclosed formed a miniature island, and on this island, close to the mill, stood the house in which we lived. Sometimes, when there had been a great deal of rain, the usually quiet little stream became swollen and overflowed its banks, and then our house was quite surrounded by water, and, but for the little wooden bridge that reached from it to the mill, the only means of communication with the outer world was by boat.
“It was the first week in January; the ground was covered with snow for miles round, and on the hills above our mill there were such enormous drifts that we looked forward with fear to the time when there should be a thaw, as we knew that if it came on rapidly the river and stream would be so overflowed as to endanger the mill and house.
“ However much my father put his confidence in God, and trusted in Providence, he was not the man to leave unused the means that lay in his power to prevent misfortune of any kind overtaking him. He accordingly set to work in having all the corn ved from the lower to the upper parts of the mill and store-houses, and as far as possible removed everything that could be injured, in case a flood set in.
“It was on a Saturday evening that this precautionary measure was completed, and we were about retiring to rest, feeling satisfied that all was done that could be to prevent mischief in case of a thaw, which appeared likely soon to come on. Before going to bed, however, my father and I took a last look round the yard to see that all was safe, and while doing so we noticed that the air was very much milder, and found that a thaw had already commenced, and the stream was rapidly rising; we entertained no fears, however, and went to bed.
“Early the next morning I was roused from my sleep by a roaring sound, and on going downstairs to ascertain the cause was surprised to find that the stream, which had made the sound, had risen to such a height that the water was already nearly level with the door-sill; this was much higher than I had ever seen it before, and I began to feel alarmed for the safety of the mill, which was old, and not calculated to bear such a strain upon it as was caused by the overflowed stream.
“I quickly roused my father, who was astonished at the rapid flood, and felt nearly as nervous as I did about the mill; but he said that he felt sure that no harm would come to the house, which stood on slightly higher ground; and he added that we were in good hands, for that He who could command the elements was our friend, and He would not allow us to be harmed.
“It made me almost angry to hear him speak so confidently; I felt more inclined to be rebellious, and to say that if God's promises were of any use, now was the time for Him to fulfil them, and to save us from loss; but neither my angry feelings nor my father's faith had the effect of staying the waters. On they came, creeping higher and higher, until at length the floors of the lower rooms of the house were flooded, and we began to move the furniture into the chambers above.
“ It is impossible for me to describe the anxiety we suffered during the long hours that intervened before daylight began to appear.