Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

that enough to make her or any other woman happy? And he could not help it besides. And why should he not improve the shining hour because Lucy had no flowers to gather honey from? Besides, was he not going to meet her the very next day, after much contrivance for concealment? So he was resolved to be merry and "freuen sich des Lebens."

They reached the flagstaff. The sun was getting low, and clouds were gathering behind him. Harrowon-the-Hill was invisible, but the reservoir gleamed coldly far across the heath. A wind was blowing from the north-west; all London lay south and east in clearness wonderful, for two or three minutes. Then a vapour slowly melted away the dome of St. Paul's; and like a spirit of sorrow, gathered and gathered till that which was full of life to those who were in it, was but a gray cloud to those that looked on from the distant height. Already the young people felt their spirits affected, and as if by a common impulse, set off to walk briskly to the pines above the "Spaniards." They had not gone far, before they met Charles Wither sauntering carelessly along-at least he seemed much surprised to see them. He turned and walked between Jane and Amy, and Mary and Tom were compelled to drop behind, so as not to extend their line unreasonably and occupy the whole path. Quite unintentionally on Tom's part, the distance between the two divisions increased, and when he and Mary reached the pines, the rest of the party had vanished. They had in fact gone down into the Vale of Health, to be out of the wind, and return by the hollow, at the suggestion of Charles Wither, who wished thus to avoid the chance of being seen by Mr. Boxall. When he had taken his leave of them, just as they came in sight of the flagstaff, where Mr. Worboise and Mr. Boxall had appointed to meet them on their return from the pines, Jane begged Amy to say nothing about having met him.

"Oh!" said Amy, with sudden and painful illumination, "I am so sorry to have been in the way."

"On the contrary, dear Amy, I should not have known what to say to papa, except you had been with me. I am so much obliged to you."

Thus there was clearly trouble in store for Mr. Boxall, who had never yet known what it was not to have his own way-in matters which he would consider of importance at least.

The two gentlemen had gone into Jack Straw's to have a glass of wine together, in honour of Christmas-Day; and while they were seated together before a good tire, it seemed to Mr. Boxall a suitable opportunity for entering on a matter of

business.

"I needn't tell you what I think, Boxall. You know well enough. Very foolish of you. Very imprudent, indeed. And I confess I should not have

""

expected it of you, although I had a shrewd suspicion that such was the case. "How came you to suspect it?"

"To tell the truth, I could not help thinking that as our friendship was not of yesterday, you would hardly have asked anyone else to draw up your will but your old friend. So you see it was by no mysterious exercise of intelligence that I came to the conclusion that, not being an unkind or suspicious man, you must be a dilatory, and, excuse me, in this sole point, a foolish man."

"I grant the worst you can say. But you shall say it only till to-morrow-that is, if you will draw up the will, and have it ready for me to sign at any hour you may be at leisure for a call from me.

99

"I can't undertake it by to-morrow; but it shall be ready by the next day at twelve o'clock."

"That will do perfectly. I must remain 'a foolish man' for twenty-four hours longer-that is all."

"You won't be much the worse for that, except you have an attack of apoplexy to fix you there. But, joking apart, give me my instructions. May I ask how much you have to leave?"

"Oh! somewhere, off and on, about thirty thousand. It isn't much, but I hope to double it in the course of a few years, if things go on as they are doing."

Mr. Worboise had not known so much about his friend's affairs as he had pretended to his son. When he heard the amount, he uttered a slight "Whew!" But whether it meant that the sum fell below or exceeded his expectations, he gave Mr. Boxall no time to inquire.

"And how do you want the sum divided?" he asked.

"I don't want it divided at all. There's no occasion whatever to mention the sum. The books will show my property. I want my wife, in the case of her surviving me, to have the whole of it." "And failing her?"

"My daughters, of course-equally divided. If my wife lives, there is no occasion to mention them. I want them to be dependent upon her as long as she lives, and so hold the family together as long as possible. She knows my wishes about them in everything. I have no secrets from her."

"I have only to carry out instructions. I have no right to offer any suggestions.' "That means that you would suggest something. Speak out, man.

""

[ocr errors]

"Suppose your daughters wished to marry?" "I leave all that to their mother, as I said. They must be their own mistresses some day."

"Well, call on me the day after to-morrow, and I shall have the draught at least ready."

When the two girls reached the flagstaff, their pa

"What will you say to me, Worboise, when I rents were not there. Jane was glad of this, for it tell you that I have never yet made a will?" precluded questioning as to the point whence they had arrived. As they stood waiting, large snowflakes began to fall, and the wind was rising. But they had not to wait long before the gentlemen made

their appearance, busily conversing, so busily in- tion of the sort she would gladly have heard more deed, that, when they had joined the girls, they walked away towards the railway-station without concerning themselves to ask what had become of Mary and Thomas.

openly expressed. At length, something cold fell upon her face, and Thomas glancing that moment at her countenance, saw it lying there, and took it for a tear. She looked up the sky was one mass of heavy vapour, and a multitude of great downy snow-flakes was settling slowly on the earth. In a moment they were clasped hand in hand. The pleasure of the snow, the excitement of being shut out from the visible, or rather the seeing world,

When they reached the railway-station, Mr. Boxall became suddenly aware that two of their party were missing.

"Why, Jane, where's Mary? And where's Tom? Where did you leave them?" "Somewhere about the pines. I thought they wrapped in the skirts of a storm with a pretty girl would have been back long ago." for his sole companion, so wrought upon Thomas, who loved to be moved and hated to will, that he forgot Lucy, and stood in delight, gazing certainly at the falling snow, and not at Mary Boxall, but holding her hand tight in his own. She crept closer to him, for a little gentle fear added to her pleasure, and in a moment more bis arm was about her-to protect her, I daresay he said to himself.

"Serve them right," said Mr. Boxall.

"Oh, don't, papa," interposed Jane.

Now be it understood that Thomas was too much

"Well, Jane, will you stop for them?" said her in love with himself to be capable of loving any father. woman under the sun after a noble and true fashion. He did not love Lucy a great deal better than he loved Mary. Only Mary was an ordinary pretty blonde, and Lucy was dark, with great black eyes, and far more distinguished in appearance than Mary. Besides she was poor, and the romance of the thing; for it made it quite noble in him to love her, and must make her look up to him with such deserved admiration, that-without reckoning the fact that the one was offered him, and the other only not forbidden because there was as yet no suspicion of his visits in Guild Court-there was positively no room to hesitate in choice between them. Still the preference was not strong enough to keep his heart from beating fast when he found the snow-storm had closed him in with Mary. He had sense enough, however, to turn at once in order to lead her back towards the road. But this was already a matter of difficulty, for there was no path where the storm found them, and with the gathering darkness the snow already hid the high road across the heath; so that the first question was in what direction to go to find it. They kept moving, however, Mary leaning a good deal on Tom's arm, and getting more and more frightened as no path came in view. Even Tom began to be anxious about what was to come of it, and although he did his best to comfort Mary, he soon found that before the least suspicion of actual danger the whole romance of the situation had vanished. And now the snow not only fell rapidly, but the wind blew it sharply in their faces, and blinded them yet more than merely with its darkness-not that this mattered much as to the finding the way, for that was all hap-hazard long ago.

The two fathers looked at each other, and each seeing that the other looked knowing, then first consented, as he thought, to look knowing himself. "Well,” said Mr. Worboise, "they're old enough to take care of themselves, I suppose. I vote we don't wait for them."

But a sudden light that flashed into Jane's eyes made him change his tone. He did not know why, but the idea of Charles Wither rose in his mind, and he made haste to prevent Jane from taking advantage of the proposal. "Come along," he said. "Let them take care of that added greatly to themselves. Come along."

The suspicion had crossed him more than once, that Mr. Wither and Jane possibly contrived to meet without his knowledge, and the thought made him writhe with jealousy; for it lay in his nature to be jealous of every one of whom his wife or his daughters spoke well—that is, until he began to like him himself, when the jealousy, or what was akin to it, vanished. But it was not jealousy alone that distressed him, but the anxiety of real love as well. By the time they reached Camden Road station, the ground was covered with snow.

44

When Tom and Mary arrived at the pines, I have said they found that the rest of their party had gone. "Oh, never mind," said Mary, merrily; "let us run down into the hollow, and wait till they come back. We can keep the pines in sight, you know. I dare say they are not far off. They will never go without us."

!

Partly from false gallantry, partly from inclination, Thomas agreed. They descended the bank of sand in a quite opposite direction from that taken by Jane and her companions, and wandered along down the heath. By this time, the sky was all gray and white. Long masses of vapour were driving overhead with jagged upper edges. They looked like lines of fierce warriors, stooping in their eager rush to the battle. But down in the hollows of the heath all was still, and they wandered on for some time without paying any heed to the signs of the coming storm. Does my reader ask what they talked about? Nothing worthy of record, I answer; although every word that Thomas uttered, seemed to Mary worth looking into for some occult applica

After wandering, probably in a circuitous fashion, for more than an hour, Mary burst out crying, and said she could not walk a step farther. would have thrown herself down had not Tom prevented her. With the kindest encouragement,—

She

though he was really downhearted himself,—he persuaded her to climb a little height near them, which with great difficulty she managed to do. From the top they saw a light, and descending the opposite side of the hill, found themselves in a road, where an empty cab stood by the door of a public-house. After trying to persuade Mary to have some refreshment, to which she refused to listen, insisting on being taken to her mother, Thomas succeeded in getting the cabman to drive them to the station. In the railway carriage, Mary lay like one dead, and although he took off both his coats to wrap about her, she seemed quite unconscious of the attention. It was with great difficulty that she reached her home; for there was no cab at the Hackney station, and the streets were by this time nearly a foot deep in snow.

Thomas was not sorry to give her up to her he looked all right.

mother. She immediately began to scold him. Then Mary spoke for the first time, saying, with great effort :

66

[ocr errors]

'Don't, mother. If it had not been for Thomas, I should have been dead long ago. He could not help it. Good night, Tom."

And she feebly held up her face to kiss him. Tom stooped to meet it, and went away feeling tolerably miserable. He was wet and cold.. The momentary fancy for Mary was quite gone out of him, and he could not help seeing that now he had kissed her before her mother he had got himself into a scrape.

Before morning Mary was in a raging fever. That night Charles Wither spent at a billiardtable in London, playing not high but long, sipping brandy-and-water all the time, and thinking what a splendid girl Jane Boxall was. But in the morning

[blocks in formation]

ANGER.

Ir is to be feared that many good people have very bad tempers. It is to be feared, too, that a bad temper is very often regarded as a misfortune rather than a sin. Men think that they are born to it; that it is no fault of theirs; that their temper deserves the sympathy of their friends rather than censure. They seem to regard it rather as they would regard a heavy mortgage on an inherited estate, or any other evil that had come upon them from accident or the wrong doing of other people.

And yet there are terrible sentences in the New Testament about unjustifiable and uncontrollable anger. To yield to ungoverned passion is to "give place to the devil." To be " angry without a cause" is to be “in danger of the judgment." No doubt there are occasions when it is a duty to be angry; and whosoever is not angry with his brother when there is a cause, neglects a duty. The constitution of our nature indicates that anger is not always a transgression of the Divine law. We are so made that pity is not more naturally awakened by the sight of suffering, fear by the approach of danger, delight by the vision of beauty, gratitude by deeds of generous kindness, than anger by many kinds of wrong-doing. Bishop Butler says, "that anger, in its impulsive form, is intended to be a sudden defence against sudden injury, and to be a standing menace, in the form of settled resentment, against deliberate injustice;" but it has far higher ends to answer than mere selfdefence.

The calm, passionless nature which is with some men the highest type of goodness, is not the Christian ideal either of human or divine perfection. It was never yet associated either with saintliness or heroism. The men whose hearts never glow with enthusiasm at witnessing lofty self-sacrifice, never burn with indignation against cowardice, falsehood, and profligacy; the men whose eyes never flash, whose pulse never quickens, whose words move on in an unbroken flow, and never rush along tumultuously, like a cataract, either in praise or blame, never yet did any work worth doing either for God or man. They are mere machines, not living souls. They would be hardly the worse if they had no hearts at all They may talk of principle being better than passion; "both are best; " both are necessary to a perfect life. It may be a less serious misfortune for the flesh to fall away than for the bones to be broken or diseased; but the hard angular skeleton, scarcely concealed by the skin, is an ungracious and ghastly object; and unless the | solid framework of principle is well covered with the warm flesh and blood of kindly and generous passion, a man's character has neither health nor beauty.

The people who do us most good are those whose affections are as true to God and righteousness as

their judgments and their consciences. Right principle is the logic of human character; right feeling is its rhetoric; it is the rhetoric by which we are strongly moved. If my friend's heart throbs faster when he speaks to me of the love of Christ, I not only see that I ought to love Christ, but my own heart begins to glow; if he quivers with indignation when he speaks of meanness, treachery, selfishness, I not only see that these things are evil, but I begin to abhor them.

Righteous anger, restrained but not quenched, has wonderful power in it. Adam Smith has accurately observed that "the proper expression of just indignation composes many of the most splendid and admired passages both of ancient and modern eloquence." But we have higher examples of it than the Philippics of Demosthenes or the Orations of Cicero against Catiline. The ancient prophets did not discuss the sins of the Hebrew people with philosophical serenity, nor condemn them with judicial calmness; some of their discourses are tempestuous with passion. The words of Christ Himself are often terrible from the indignation they express; gentle as He was, there was no weakness in Him. He looked upon hypocrites with "anger, being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts." His denunciations sometimes burn with a white heat. And the eternal God has not trusted to the calm appeal which His law makes to the conscience of man-"His wrath is revealed from Heaven against all unrighteousness;" "He is angry with the wicked every day." Perhaps one reason why modern preaching is less powerful than it might be, is because it does not dwell sufficiently upon the depth and intensity of God's delight in man's well-doing and the fierceness of His indignation at sin.

It is possible, then, to "be angry," and to "sin not." Jonah was mistaken when he said that he did well to be angry; but there are times when we do exceedingly ill if we feel no anger. To quote again from Bishop Butler, who has a far better claim to the epithet "judicious" than Richard Hooker: "The indignation raised by cruelty and injustice, and the desire of having it punished, which persons unconcerned would feel, is by no means malice. No, it is resentment against vice and wickedness, it is one of the common bonds by which society is held together, a fellow-feeling which each individual has in behalf of the whole species as well as of himself. And it does not appear that this, generally speaking, is at all too high amongst mankind.”

There are times, therefore, if we are like Christ, and bear the Divine image, when we shall be angry. Nor do I see any reason why we should never speak until our anger is over. Anger is meant to make the condemnation of sin more effective; to wait till it has cooled down is to forget that fire is sometimes

wanted to subdue a stubborn material as well as force. It is a great calamity to a child if its parents act on the foolish theory that they should never reprove or punish except in cold blood; some parents, indeed, have so little control over their passion, that to wait till their anger is over may be a humiliating necessity; but still the child suffers. There is nothing more intolerable than a cold censure for grave faults. It is infinitely worse to bear than indignation, and it is less effective. It looks like cruelty. It provokes resentment. The remembrance of it is like a cancer in the soul. Parental love must be strongly moved-moved with anger as well as sorrow-when a child has committed sin; if a parent waits until all the emotion has gone, the reproof and the punishment have all the harshness of authority unalleviated by the tenderness of affection.

But anger, like every other active principle of our nature, may escape from the control of reason and conscience, and then it is most mischievous both to ourselves and others.

Fire mastered by man's skill, working even fiercely under his command, is one of his most efficient servants; but fire, in revolt against man's authority, is one of his most terrible foes. "Pride," says an ancient author, "robs me of God, envy of my neighbour, anger of myself;" he might have said, Anger makes me the slave of the devil, the curse of my neighbour, and my own worst torment.

Some people seem to live in a perpetual storm, calm weather can never be reckoned upon in their company. Suddenly, when you least expect it, without any adequate reason, and almost without any reason at all, the sky becomes black, and the wind rises, and there is growling thunder and pelting rain. You can hardly tell where the tempest came from. An accident for which no one can be rightly blamed, a misunderstanding which a moment's calm thought would have terminated, a chance word which meant no evil, a trifling difficulty which good sense might have removed at once, a slight disappointment which a cheerful heart would have borne with a smile, brings on earthquakes and hurricanes. People of this kind say they bear no malice; that their passion is soon over; that they do not "let the sun go down on their wrath; " but the mischief is that if one storm ends at nightfall, another is sure to begin at sunrise. This is hardly fulfilling the apostolic precept. As anger is sinful when it is without a cause, it is also sinful when too prolonged. God never meant us to "nurse our wrath." Severe remedies become dangerous when their action is not almost instantaneous. Prolonged anger is a torment instead of a chastisement to those who have to endure it; however just in its origin, it is resented as a wrong; and hinders, instead of encouraging, penitence.

An angry man little knows the misery and injury he inflicts on those whom, perhaps, he truly loves. His wife and children are in continual fear. His

""

violent language is not forgotten by others as easily as he forgets it himself. No bursts of "goodnature,' no lavish gifts, atone for it. Very often his temper leads to habits of concealment and deceit on the part of those with whom he lives. For this he is largely responsible. If he has to do with public business, he drives away from every institution with which he is connected the quiet men who hate strife, and he makes the work of those who remain a constant source of intolerance and disgust. If the charity which "beareth all things" is the queen of the christian graces, the passion that bears nothing is one of the worst of unchristian vices.

Moralists have suggested many considerations which should help those who are guilty of this sin to check and master it. Perhaps one of the wisest and most charming passages which Archdeacon Paley ever wrote, is that in which he enumerates the reflections by which an angry man may subdue the rising storm. He says:

"Reflections proper for this purpose, and which may be called the sedatives of anger, are the following: The possibility of mistaking the motives from which the conduct that offends us proceeds; how often our offences have been the effect of inadvertency, when they were construed into indications of malice; the inducement which prompted our adversary to act as he did, and how powerfully the same inducement has, at one time or other, operated upon ourselves; that he is suffering perhaps under a contrition, which he is ashamed, or wants opportunity, to confess; and how ungenerous it is to triumph by coldness or insult over a spirit already humbled in secret; that the returns of kindness are sweet, and that there is neither honour, nor virtue, nor use, in resisting them :-for some persons think themselves bound to cherish and keep alive their indignation when they find it dying away of itself. We may remember that others have their passions, their prejudices, their favourite aims, their fears, their cautions, their interests, their sudden impulses, their varieties of apprehension, as well as we we may recollect what hath sometimes passed in our minds when we have gotten on the wrong side of a quarrel, and imagine the same to be passing in our adverary's mind now; when we become sensible of our misbehaviour, what palliations we perceived in it, and expected others to perceive; how we were affected by the kindness, and felt the superiority, of a generous reception and ready forgiveness; how persecution revived our spirits with our enmity, and seemed to justify the conduct in ourselves which we before blamed. Add to this the indecency of extravagant anger; how it renders us, whilst it lasts, the scorn and sport of all about us, of which it leaves us, when it ceases, sensible and ashamed; the inconveniences, and irretrievable misconduct into which our irascibility has sometimes betrayed us; the friendships it has lost us; the distresses and embarrassments in which we

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »