Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

green as when they grew up in the morning. The tears which were shed upon the coffio seemed as showers of light descending in the dews of heaven ; and when some few sighs came from that side, to my ears they seemed as solemn songs in the night, as strains of joy in much affliction. Nor could I discern the noise of joy from the noise of weeping; but they were calm and holy, and once they became so articulate, that I distinguished plainly the words, “ Death is swallowed up in victory.”

On the contrary, those who looked at the coffin on the other side, that farthest from the quarter whence the shadow fell, they did not seem to observe these most wondrous effects. On that side the coffin reflected no brightness; all looked dark, and cold, and cheerless. The very clearness of the light seemed to show to them but more plainly the strength and depth of the riveting nails and iron clasps ; the flowers on that side seemed so faded, withered, and dried up, that they could never live again ; the tears which fell from those who gazed on that dark side, seemed to me as the big heavy drops preluding the thunder storm; and the sighs which laboured in their surcharged bosoms were as the gathering groans of the gale, when the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. I thought them of all men, most miserable. It seemed a wonderful and horrible thing that they should close their eyes against such bliss,—that they should choose for light, darkness ; for warmth, chillness; for incorruption, corruption ; for glory, dishonour; for power, weakness; for life, death. And I wondered much that they did not seem to perceive that the new-dug grave was shining forth all., the while with such dazzling brightness, that, it seemed a very doorway opened into another world, and leading to the Source itself of light. By the light of that shadow, I was enabled to read on a tombstone the inscription, “ Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord: they rest from their labours.” And I said, who shall venture to indulge the wish that we could rob them of their rest, and restore to them this world in exchange ?

“Far better they should sleep awhile

Within the Church's shade,
Nor wake, until new heaven, new earth,
Meet for their new immortal birth,

For their abiding-place be made.?! Suddenly the Church bell smote heavily upon my ear ; the funeral knell was sounding, I started from my musings. The sun had long set; the Church's shadow had gone. I could have wished to connect again the broken links of my reflections, but in vain ; unbidden had they come, and were not to be recalled at my bidding. Still I lingered awhile at the Churchyard gate,

and still, as I fancied, felt the shadow which I could no longer see ; and as I looked upon the little grave open beside me, I said, Surely the shadow is truth. As I spoke, I heard a softlygliding step advancing close to me, before I had become aware of it. I had scarcely looked up, when I heard, from the lips of one in white array, the words, “ I am the Resurrection, and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall be live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.” Then I turned round, and the funeral train was now really at the gate. And so they advanced and passed on; I followed. After awhile they were seen around the grave; I stood not far from the group whom men call mourners. Then we separated; the dust and ashes to its sojourning-place, and we to ours.

THE KIND HEART.

“My dear Sister,

You, who love children and their ways so much, will, I am sure, delight in an account I have just heard, and know to be true, of a boy of nine years old. He is the eldest at home of the large family of a Clergyman in our unfortunate sister island, and has always been remarkable for steadi. ness, and a love for the good and beautiful, though a quiet, and, to strangers, almost an uninteresting child. At home, however, he is the delight of the younger ones, being a most excellent and merry playfellow. My attention was first drawn to him by hearing his aunt ask her sister whether E--'s old woman were still alive? "No,' was the answer, 'she died before Christmas.' On my inquiring into the meaning of this term, (for the benefit of my children, who were present,) I learnt that this young boy had, for a year past, taken this poor, bed-ridden woman into his especial charge, with his mother's permission ; and well did he fulfil his office. Not a day passed that he did not find his way to her cabin, carrying with him various odds and ends saved from his own meals. He made up her fire, made her tea, warmed up porridge or broth for her, and learnt to make various little messes for her comfort. Then he would read to her, day by day, portions of the Scriptures; and blessed must it have been to the poor woman to hear the sacred truths from those dear young lips. Once she said Master Edward had assuredly saved her life. The weather was bitterly cold; her only neighbour (whose office it was to clean up her house, &c.) was away from home, and the poor creature's fire had long been

VOL. XI.

M

out. Warmth and life seemed gradually to leave her frozen limbs, and she had sunk into a deathlike stupor, when her little guardian entered the hut. With wonderful quickness the child collected a few sticks,and re-kindled the fire; then, while the kettle was carefully placed over the blaze, to procure hot tea as soon as possible, he began to chafe her hands and feet, and by his warm breath and active rubbing, had soon the happiness to find circulation gradually returning. You may suppose that her little pile of wood was entirely collected by him, and all his pocketmoney is believed to have been expended in her support. Most of these facts have only lately come to light; for the dear child never spoke of his exertions, and his constant labour of love was scarcely known. I am sure you will join with me in earnest hope that he may be spared, to become a zealous labourer in his Master's vineyard, and continue the work he has so early begun.”

MY AUNT NELLY'S PORTFOLIO.

(Continued from Vol. X., page

285.)

It has been to me a positive delight to watch the growing friendship between our two middies,-(such an incongruous pair as they are !)—10 observe the generous patronage which Fred exercises towards his ancient messmate, and the looks of more than paternal exultation with which the good soul in return watches every movement of one destined, in his opinion, to become a great hero; little recking, to all appearance, the hard rubs he has himself encountered, and passing meekly by the neglect with which the services of more than thirty laborious years have been met, while at the same time you can plainly see it would make him very angry to find that his young favourite was not helped up the ladder of promotion as fast as he could set his feet upon its steps. Independently of this sure road to all our hearts, Mr. Walton's demeanour, during the few weeks of his residence among us, has earned our very warmest esteem ; the tact of a pure and upright soul compensating, a thousand-fold, his few departures from conventional propriety. These were the merest trifles imaginable,—such as helping us to things we could not possibly want, and generally upsetting them by the way; offering his hand, instead of his arm, to lead us in to dinner; or-at which that naughty Helen invariably fell into a giggle--the excellent creature's addressing me as 'miss,' it being apparently an article in his code of politeness that all the spinsters in the family, from Septy to Aunt Mary, should be so accosted, while his hostess had all the madams

to her own share. But now I grieve to say this couple of rare friends and allies have both taken their departure, Mr. Walton having been the first to go ; ' whereby hangs a tale,' which I will forthwith proceed to relate.

Among the two or three neighbouring families with whom we keep up frequent and friendly intercourse, is one on whom I will bestow the fancy name of Fitzrocket, in compliment to a renowned admiral, who at rare intervals favours his brother, the squire, with a visit. This important personage arrived at the Grange a few weeks since, and took a vast fancy to Fred from their first meeting ; not, I am sure, owing to any flattering deference on the dear boy's part, for it quite amused us to observe that while every one else at the table, even the squire himself, seemed afraid to speak above their breath, Fred replied to the admiral's catechism with frank and fearless confidence; sometimes with a touch of mother wit, which so took the fancy of the great man that he was never pleased, so they said, unless “this fine young fellow” made one of their party : perhaps--but it may be only an old aunt's conceitthe admiral inight have detected, through all these wild, headlong spirits of his, a vein of right principle and gentlemanly feeling, the result of early religious training.

Fred would gladly have evaded some of these perpetual invitations to dine at the Grange, grudging as he did every hour spent away from his family; and I am sure he received no bias from his parents to cultivate the admiral's good graces, my brother entertaining an utter dislike to every species of patronage-hunting; his motto, as it regards solicitude about future provision, is, ' Mind your work,' (i.e. do your duty,) 'and your wages will mind themselves.' The admiral, it seems, was of another mind; for he told Fred at parting, under the auspicious title of my fine hearty,' to apply io him whenever he wanted a friend-words of as happy import, from the lips of an admiral afloat, as the promise of help from some mighty enchanter in a fairy tale to one on the eve of a perilous enterprise, when he (as well as the reader of his adrentures) feels sure of his coming safe out of them. It appeared, however, to Helen, that Fred was in a great hurry to avail himself of the admiral's proffer, when one morning she observed him scrawling on, in his headlong manner, over a large sheet of writing paper,--an epistle beginning with “My dear Rear-Admiral Fitzrocket."

“O, Fred, Fred !" cried she, in a tone between crying and laughing, “You are never, to be sure, going to write already 10 Admiral Fitzrocket ?”

“ And why not, my dear? It isn't the fashion with us afloat to say what we don't mean, however you ashore may manage these matters. Do you believe the noble Fitz didn't mean what he

said, when he told me I needn't scruple to ask him for anything I wanted ?"

“ Fred !” said Helen, emphasizing his name as before, in a tone between reproach and wonderment, " why he hasn't been gone a week! And you know what you heard him tell, and how he laughed, of some great statesman, or commander-in-chief, who received fifteen hundred begging letters, and then his secretary got tired of filing—besides—really—just see how you are beginning ! I didn't intend to look, but it caught my eye. You shouldn't say, My dear Rear-Admiral!"

Shouldn't I? There's your ignorance, Miss Nell; you don't know; (how should you ?) That Vice is a step higher than Rear, and," with a significant jog of the head, “I am not going to promote him, whatever I may ask him to do for me.”

“ There, then! you are going to ask him a favour, it seems. But what I meant was, 'tis such a long affair,-My dear Rear. Admiral Fitzrocket; I wonder, while you were about it, that you didn't say, My dear Rear-Admiral of the blue Fitzrocket-rocket stuck up over too!”

“Over ! why where else would you have me put it, when there wasn't room for it in the line ?

“ I mean that you should have written, if you will write at all, My dear sir,'- so much more respectful."

“ Would it though? Sir to an admiral just what you'd write to your tailor! And that's all you know about the matter, is it? Come, sheer off with your criticisms, or~"

Thus saying, he sprang to his feet, and after a playful skirmish, -though, I must say, Helen made a gallant resistance, -succeeded in putting her fairly out of the room ; she the while quoting Shakespeare, and protesting she “would not be o'ermaster'd with such a piece of valiant dust."

Fred and I were then the only parties left; and as nobody minds Aunt Mary, I could observe the progress of his pen from where I sat, But after all its grandiloquent opening, it proved only a short affair, and was written in so prodigious a hand, that I might have easily gratified my curiosity to read the contents, had honour permitted. The epistle, I observed, took longer in making up than in composing; for, being written on a large, un. manageable sheet, the sides would project out in what are called wings, though one never found that they facilitated the progress of a letter. Finding his efforts to pinion them down all in vain, he proceeded 10 seal with an impression as large as a coat-button ; and, as if this rare production were too precious to trust to. other hands, he deposited it himself in the post-bag. From this time forth, I observed with what earnest looks he continued to watch the turn out of each morning's post-bag. For a week or

« ForrigeFortsett »