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“Give you a ten pound note-to-to pay the doctor's bill,” ended Aunt Elizabeth rather tremblingly, as the smile on his face changed its character at her opening words.
“No, I thank you. I am not a beggar yet, -not even a receiver of other people’s goods. We do very well, we live within our income. I set myself to do that on first being ordained, so had some practice before marriage. Queenie's a capital manager.”
“But her children will soon need education, -promise me whenLudovic—?"
“Yes, 'Ludovic,'-old Potticary was Lewis,-just scholar enough to know Ludovicus Latin thereof. Well, when Ludovic_”
“Needs schooling, let me help you to give him a good education.”
“ Thank you; but he'll have a far better one than ever his father had,—at the National School—rather Board School – for I expect all schools will be Board Schools three years hence,—and at only a penny a week. Your train, good-bye. Stay, I'll get your ticket if I've a stiver,-yes, all right. Dear Aunt Elizabeth, allow me to present you with tbis ticket,” and he took off his hat à la Louis Quatorze, "they won't let me pass the barrier without one, so it must be good-bye in public; no, you've no time to repay me-good-bye. God bless you for coming !"
“Sometimes, especially after my father's letters on my marriage, still more on my not taking full orders, I felt as if 'Christianity' were only civilized heathendom' after all !—such women make one know better,” pondered Arthur on his way home again ; and then he exclaimed impatiently, “Never asked her address at Eastbourne, and I'll never get at it through Brayscombe,- let them whistle for me when they want me! Dulce domum indeed! not even Dulcibella can withstand ‘Brayscombe traditions. I like that phrase. I was to take orders to keep up Brayscombe tra—why, I'm at home! Doctor out, my poor Queenie, but I think I know what the child wants, must just look at my books to make sure. And lend me sixpence, can you ? I spent my last till Saturday night on Aunt Elizabeth's ticket. Yes, come along, my boy, all brushed up and ready I see! We've lost all our lesson time to-day somehow, and must do our spelling as we go along. What does AUNT spell ? too hard ? well, I'll tell you, 'a good woman. Eh? what do you say? What all that in four letters ?' Yes, sometimes,-if not too often, I can tell you.”
S. MARGARET, V.M.
“ The LORD hath added grief to my sorrow."
Thus so far across the river
Or within some blesséd chamber
Feet that tarry by the river,
Thus like Margaret ever blessed
For the half-lights of a Christian
“ I sate alone, and drew the blessing in
Of all that nature: with a gradual step,
E. B. BROWNING. MIDSUMMER is the prime of the season, the noontide of the year ; amid the deepest solitudes nature rejoices, and the mantling greenerie of the forest deepens; there was joy in old times at the coming of Midsummer, apart from religious observances of the Holy Baptist's Festival ; on Highland hills, fires were kindled to welcome it, and in the far east, by the lovely lakes of Cashmere, the “ Feast of Roses" was celebrated.
Generations, however, have outlived many such memories; yet even in this prosaic age, when toiling and striving multitudes find little time for indulgence in sentiment, some hearts are silently gladdened when gazing on the beautiful Rose, and weary spirits refreshed by inhaling its delicious perfume.
Many quaint oral traditions still survive in wild districts, concerning the curious rites and superstitious ceremonies which ushered in Midsummer Day; we cannot but respect their antiquity, though often intermixed with forms of worship, which have given place to purer religion; then, hymns were chanted by white-robed priests, marching in solemn procession from various Shrines, to salute with music and reverential homage, the rising of the Orb which cheers and fertilises the earth ; while as we read in the Spanish ballad, maidens sallied forth to gather flowers in the early morning, on the banks of the blue Guadalquiver—"the Day of the good Saint John”—
12 S. Pet. i. 5–7.
“Come forth, come forth, my maidens, and slumber not away,
The blessed blessed Morning of the Holy Baptist's Day :
“ Come forth, come forth, my maidens, the air is calm and cool,
And the violet blue far down we'll view reflected in the pool;
How little can the native inhabitants of populous cities, enter into the feelings and habits of dwellers in isolated sylvan districts ; many of the superstitions of former times were born and cherished in Arcadian solitudes ; and trivial occurrences, often merely the result of coincidence, or chance combinations, were considered as infallible omens for good or evil. We are sometimes surprised that our ancestors were credulous enough to believe, that events in daily life were influenced by such fancies as are embodied in the lore, which is still to be gathered from the discursive talk of aged folks, in those rural homes where never yet has the shrill scream of the railway whistle penetrated. The practice which formerly prevailed, of sprinkling rivers with flowers on Holy Thursday, is alluded to by Milton in “ Comus”
“ The shepherds at their festivals
Of pansies, pinks, and gaudy daffodils”— and was no doubt a relic of the Roman Fontinalia, a ceremony held in honour of nymphs of the fountains; and Seneca says, “where a spring rises, or a river flows, there we should build altars, and offer sacrifices” -now, we decorate our Altars with the fairest flowers of Midsummer, and with the pure and glorious harmonies of our beloved Church, commemorate the sacred Day set apart in honour of the Great Prophet, at whose hands our Blessed LORD deigned to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. Stowe · tells us, that formerly all house doors on Saint John's Eve, were festooned with green boughs and white lilies, and adorned with garlands of flowers, amid which oil lamps burnt all night; there was also a “ Marching Watch,” as it was called, on Midsummer Eve, in the metropolis, when men in glittering armour, on horseback and on foot, paraded about the streets with Cressets blazing; while at the open windows, crowds of ladies, richly attired in gold and sheen, looked down smilingly on the pageant; probably the
custom originated in the belief, that evil spirits were supposed to be abroad with more power on Midsummer night, than on any other night of the year; and as evil things shun the daylight, warding them off with blazing Cressets was considered a form of purification, both for the habitations and their inhabitants. On this night also, it was mysteriously whispered, that the souls of all people leave their bodies, and wander away to that place, whether by land or sea, where the final separation awaits them. But we might go on narrating such old folk lore, until many pages were filled very unprofitably; yet there is one tradition in the dim distance, bringing with it a sighing music as of wind-harps, sweet and uncertain, and listened to at the twilight hour, when the stars are beginning to glitter in the summer skies, and thought ascends in prayer to that blissful Land beyond the stars-far, far
away, which is too lovely to be passed over. In days of yore, clocks and watches were not so plentiful and cheap as they are now, and in Arcadia, like the shepherds of Virgil, folks measured the approach of nightfall by the gradually lengthening shadows of the hills. There was usually one individual on Midsummer Eve, who ascended the highest point of ground within reach, where scarce a sound from beneath disturbed the solitude, there to keep lonely vigil, in silent prayer, with eyes devoutly fixed on the starry skies, and with attentive ears listening through the hours of the summer night; the individual who thus aspired to the blessedness of being conversant with the supernatural, was always selected from those in early youth, whose lives were marked by purity and holiness ; such a youth or maiden, might humbly hope to be so highly favoured, as to hear amid the solemn silence reigning around them on all sides,
"A slumberous sound, a sound that brings
The feelings of a dream
As of innumerable wings—" accompanied by distant strains of music so thrilling and divine, that the trembling watcher became aware the sounds were not of earthbut that missioned Angels were passing on their rapturous flight beneath the stars-singing as they sped onwards through space; invisible indeed to the eye, but whose glorious harmonies descended to earth in whispers, far sweeter than mortal tongues could tell. The favoured youth or maiden, who once heard this mysterious music, ever afterwards, it was affirmed, experienced ineffable peace of mind, or as it was described, “music in the heart;" so that none of the affairs of