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sun, or the rising of the moon, or the gentle sound of the breeze, and the melody of the birds among the branches. There was a strange mystery in it; for although the shadow on which I gazed was, as I have said, strong and clear, still it was, in a manner, dark without gloom, and shining without brightness. I could not understand how it was; I cannot describe it. A passage of Holy Writ, which is often present to my mind, occurs to me as the only language by which I can in any way attempt to describe the unearthly appearance which I beheld :" It shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark; but it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day por night: but it shall come to pass that at evening-time it shall be light."* Accordingly I perceived that, although the shadowy brightness evidently was reflected from above, this light was not that of the sun, nor yet of the moon ; for indeed the sun had, by this time, just set, and the moon was but a light, thin crescent of pale silver in the west; and yet, as the twilight deepened, the unearthly shadow seemed to brighten, and to gain vividness, as well as shape, brought out by the closing darkness into clearer light, while the natural day shadows were waxing faint, and waning away. Nor was this all; for I could see at a glance that it brightened or darkened, in the various spots on which it fell, according to some bidden sympathetic or opposing influences, which were at work therein. But, whether brightening or darkening, there it was, resting upon all, enfolding all, and claiming each spot as its own.
While I' was musing, the Church door opened, methought, of its own accord, and I perceived, as it were, a long and wide burnished gleam of this mysterious shadow reflected from the surface of the water in the font beside the door, as it had been the flood of splendour which would dazzle the eye if at sunrise it were to look across the watery mirror of the calm ocean, or rather of a sea of glass, like unto crystal. And still was it mild, and still was it awful ; and I felt almost as though I ought to turn away mine eyes : but as I looked ronnd, I saw a quiet group approaching at some little distance behind me. They were men and women, and one bare a little infant in her arms. I could scarcely distinguish the features of the babe, for the shadows of night fell wrathfully and gloomily athwart its brow, and it seemed as one without life. Suddenly the Church's shadow fell upon the face of the little one, and it came forth, out of darkness, into marvellous light. It was a steady, sure, unflickering ray, and it seemed to bathe the infant through and through, and to come in even unto its soul. From being dead it was quickened, and new-borns it was illuminated, and lived. And I heard low sounds of prayer ascending, and when a gentle breath of strange wind, blowing where it listed, but whence and whither proceeding I could not tell, brought the sounds past my ear, I caught the words," that this child may lead the rest of his life according to this beginning."
* Zech. xiv. 6, 7.
At this moment methought I heard the merry ring of children's voices; and on turning towards the spot from whence it came, I beheld a knot of rustic boys and girls, just freed from school at the close of day; and down as far as the little wicket, and
through the old ivy-clad porch, and into the vacant schoolroom itself, there, full and flat, slanted the same glorious shadow. It rested on the Bibles and the Prayer-Books, and lighted up the Scripture prints and texts upon the walls, and caused the hands and figures on the clock-face to glitter like precious stones; and, in a word, it filled all the place with a supernatural beauty. It fell, too, upon the children themselves, who were at their sports on the village green hard by ; yet, falling on all alike, not from all alike did it shine back in beauty. And as I watched more narrowly, I perceived that it waxed from time to time more dim or bright on each. To those who appeared to love it, it was brightness; to those who little esteemed it, it was shade. Like the thick, mantling pillar of the cloud in the wilderness, it was a cloud and darkness to the one: and it gave light to the other. And I marvelled much when I beheld these things, perceiving, as I did, that the heavenly shadow fell, as the sun rises, on the evil and on the good, on the just and on the unjust.. And when I thought to understand this, it was too hard for me; so I left it to Him Who dwelleth in the sanctuary, the Merciful and the Just.
“He only can the cause reveal,
Why, at the same fond bosom fed,
Till the same prayer were duly said,
Aliens in heart so oft should prove ;
One dwell in wrath, and one in love. The merry sound of childish voices had died away upon the ear, as each had sought his own among the cottages for the night; and I turned to look upon these different village homes, in which, unmarked by any but myself, the shadow fell
. And now my eye rested upon a low thatched cottage, not far from the Church. I could have fancied, from appearances, that some hand which had been accustomed to arrange and keep in orderly array its few objects of usefulness or ornament, had been for
some time wanting. Here a straggling bough was cumbering the narrow path; there a trailing branch hung in disorder down the wbitewashed wall; and evergreen creepers were flaunting, untrained and unclipped, around the lattice-work of the wooden porch; and the dead leaves had drifted into damp, mouldering heaps along the untrimmed borders. The humble casement was swinging sullenly and slowly to and fro, cracking and groaning in the melancholy gusts of the wind. I looked in, and the ruddy blaze of the domestic fire shot up, and filled the whole room with light. It flickered on the neat work-table and work. box, and its contents; it flowed across the dark face of the little instrument, which had ceased its music; it gilded afresh the few picture frames, and spread, with quivering, fantastiç imagery, broad and bright across the ceiling. But the room was tenantless :
: no living being was to be seen, except a large, handsome Newfoundland dog, which lay on the hearth-rug, turning his anxious eyes ever and anon towards the door, as though he looked for the entrance of some well-known and well-loved face. And now he would rise up, and move towards the closed door, and stand mute and motionless, gazing and listening; and then would he slowly turn back, as I fancied, disappointed and dejeçted, and lie down in his old accustomed place. But, in the room above, I saw a dim light proceeding from a carefully shaded taper, and scarcely serving to reveal to me the little history of wbat I had beheld. There, on a low couch, methought lay a worn and wasted figure; I could see that death had breathed upon her brow. Deep and sharp were the lines traced on her pale features ; the bright eye within its sunken, hollow cavity, was only as a lamp in the sepulchre. Her white form lay calm and still as, a snow-flake, slowly and imperceptibly waning and sinking into the earth. There she lay, waiting for death. And beside her sat one, with a little child upon his kgee ; he did not speak, nor move ; his eye was fixed steadily on the ground, almost as though he might be striving to scan some mystic characters inscribed thereon, which might unravel a mystery, or afford him consolation. His heart knew its own bitterness. I suppose that neither I, nor any one but those who have shared it, could intermeddle with the depths of that woe. It would seem as though he would perforce refuse to be comforted, but go down into the grave with her, mourning. Presently the Church's shadow stole quietly upon that humble roof. At once the sickly taper's solitary gleam was swallowed up in the mysterious cloud of unearthly splendour. The wan and wasted features beamed with hues which they had never known in health, with an unutterable radiance, as it had been the face of an angel; the long, slender fingers were lifted up
and clasped together; and forthwith the frail tenement of flesh, bathed in this light, was transfigured with a more surpassing beauty and comeliness, than of flesh and blood at its best estate. Her eyes were no more burning with fever-fires; their light was as it had been a calm, clear shining after rain. She appeared to be gazing earnestly at some things which were not seen, -things not temporal; and to be listening attentively to some sounds which none heard but herself, and not with the outward ears. The little room underneath too looked no longer desolate in its cheerfulness; the merry lights, which had danced and flickered from the genial hearth, had paled away, and become lost in the overwhelming glory of the celestial shalow. The garden was no longer as a wilderness; seen in the radiance of that blessed shade, its memorials appeared more beautiful than they could have done, had they flourished and shone in the gayest attire, and brightest earthly light.
Again I looked upon him who sat stupified with that earthquake of woe, which had overthrown his heart's surest and loftiest hopes. And very sad did I feel was the sight. Broad and full fell the holy gleam upon his countenance also, but not in him did it light up and inflame glowing thoughts of hope, and bright musings of resignation; and as I looked upon him, and upon the faithful dog beneath, I could not help contrasting the utter despondency and unhappy selfishness of his grief, with the unselfish devotion and patient submission of the lower creature. The holy shadow which fell upon the one, in such unrestricted majesty, did not, as far as I could see, fall certainly upon the other at all, or it fell so vaguely and so partially, that I could not comprehend how far the dumb animal groaned and travailed together in spirit with its master, as a fellow-heir of vanity and sorrow; or whether the holy shadow was to deliver this brute beast, in any, and in what degree, from the bondage of corruption, by which the whole creation bad in Adam been enslaved and shackled until now. And yet the other seemed to grieve with no better grief than this beast that perisheth. He sorrowed, I feared, as those who have no hope; and yet I felt that it must be a selfish sorrow, which could desire to cloud with earthly shadows the exceeding bright lustre which streamed upon that house of mourning.
And pow the little child was quietly beckoned by its mother to her bedside; it was the hour of prayer. I saw the child, like a closing flower at even, weary, and desiring its rest, sink on its knees, and lowly and reverently raise up towards heaven its simple prayers and praises, as an odour of a sweet smell. And again the supernatural wind swept by, and I heard the soft and regular chime of childish devotion borne to my ear from the sick chamber; and once I thought that there were two voices, blended as one,—the lisping voice of childhood, and the broken accents of womanhood, in a subdued and tranquil undertone, mingling together words which sounded to me like these, “ Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
I heard also the words added, “Give us this day our daily bread;" but it seemed as if they vibrated from a secret chord which had been struck some time before, and which murmured still with a deep, mysterious thrill. As the words “ daily bread" fell from her lips, she seemed unconsciously to wander back to some scene of tranquil rapture. She turned her eyes, with an expression of full satisfaction, towards the Church; and I caught the words, “ spiritual food and sustenance,”- so divine and comfortable a thing," spiritually eat the Flesh of Christ, and drink His Blood,”-_-" body and soul unto everlasting life :" and with the words “angels and archangels” on her lips, she sank back faint and exhausted. Whether she slept I could not tell ; but he who sat watching beside her was near enough to distinguish whether she breathed.
At length I beheld a little band of villagers approaching, whose slow and measured steps, so unlike those which I had seen twinkling upon the village-green, and whose snowy veils and sable vestments proclaimed that they were bringing all which could die of mortality to its sojourning-place. As they approached nearer, I saw the coffin borne by six, whose stature might have fitted the coffin which they carried. A few flowers were scattered upon the top, and twined along the sides. I could see that the one who was sleeping on, and taking her rest in that quiet couch, had indeed come up, and been cut down like a flower. Short and narrow was the bed of her breathless slumbers; and they who bare the form which therein slept on, and took her rest, seemed to feel it but a light burden. And many followed. And now they drew nigh to the Churchyard gate; and as I looked, I saw that the awful shallow rested, with an unspeakably greater glory than I had yet seen, on the melancholy pageant. It was as it had been the glow of a setting vernal sun, yet gorgeous and glorious beyond all expression. And now was I more than ever struck by the wonderful variation with which it appeared to affect those who beheld it. The side of the coffin which was next to the Church, and to its shadow, gleamed and glistened, and became shining, exceeding white as snow ; the nails in the coffin, and the funeral paraphernalia, sparkled like stars on a dark sky; the flowers which had been sprinkled and wreathed upon the coffin, and were already faded, or fading, recovered their strength, and although cut down, dried up, and withered beneath the evening sky, they became