Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

“ If your love is true, the thought of his happiness will suffice to it; it is not for us to look into the decrees of God, or to dictate to Him concerning His eternity; but thus much we know, if through pain and self-denial we at last reach heaven, we shall be happy; and with a happiness as much beyond that of earth as the blue sky is more beautiful than the green grass, further than that let us not seek, it is not revealed to us, therefore it is good for us to be ignorant.”

Again she sighed one of those bitter sighs which sought to raise the heart-weight which still pressed so wearily and so heavily on the crushed spirit.

“ But he was happy here,” she said, “ so happy and so pure —and he had one feeling of the earth in his heart which but for that was all heaven, he could love. He has lain in my arms asleep, and in his sleep the angels talked to him, and he smiled, and I have leaned over him watching that smile and wondering whether the Angels themselves that guarded him were more beautiful and holy: and then he has opened his eyes, which were like two pure stars, and they looked askingly round for the kind spirits who had made his sleep so pleasant; and then his eyes met mine with their clear blue light, and my heart beat, for I saw they rested on me, and as I smiled on him, he smiled again, and the look of wonder and inquiry went, and love rose up in its stead, and I felt that he was happy, and that he loved me, and I felt drawn nearer to the Angels as I kissed the brow on which the warmth of their sheltering wings still seemed to rest. 0, does he love me now?"

“Why should he not,” answered I, “surely earthly love in its purest form—the love of the child for the mother-lives again in heaven, or rather, never dies at all."

“His mother did not love as I do,” said she, sorrowfully, “ for she died when he was born; and yet she is with him in heaven."

“She is with him in heaven?” cried I; “how can you, so doubtful of yourself, dare to pronounce that ?”

She looked at me wonderingly; then an expression of pain crossed her face, as if the idea were new to her, and very sorrowful; but that expression was gone in a moment, and with a child-like simplicity she replied

“ She was his mother—they must be united-or heaven would not be heaven.”

I felt deep interest for this young girl : her thoughts seemed to me so beautiful, and yet so undisciplined. I longed to console, to assist her, and with tender gesture to point out the only place where first discipline, and then comfort, and then happiness could be found.

“Tell me,” said I suddenly, “ do you go to Church ?”

“Yes, I have been lately,” she replied, answering like a child to my questions.

"Your parents—who are they? Do they attend Church ?” continued I, abruptly.

“No," she replied, “they are dissenters : my father is a farmer.”

And you—you are not a dissenter ?” “O no," she cried eagerly, “it is so beautiful to go to Church -it makes one feel holy; and yet why,—how is it better ?”.

These last words were uttered with a perplexed air, and addressed more to herself than to me.

“Poor child !” thought I; “ so untaught, and yet so selfteaching; surely your guardian Angel looks down on you tenderly, yet with an anxious love. Can I turn that anxiety to hope ?” I shrunk from the thought as if guilty of an irreverence, but a voice whispered to me to persevere, and the trees moved to and fro, making melancholy music to the graves of the dead; and the moonlight shone bright yet cold on the figure of the living girl.

“Why do you go to Church ?” asked I.

“I have a friend who begged me to go with her, and I went very often, and I liked it, but I hardly know why. I loved to kneel and to hear that the sinner might be forgiven, and to ask pardon for faults that, till the prayer passed my lips, I had forgotten, but which at that moment came back to me, till with tears I implored forgiveness, and then felt forgiven. I never left Church without peace in my heart, and I reverenced, I know not why, the Minister who said the prayers for me, and who (that seemed so wonderful) pronounced the pardon for my sins

and then-” she paused. “ What then ?” cried I.

“Then,” said she," he spoke to me one day, as I left Church, in the churchyard-in this churchyard—” she bent her head and kissed the grave. “I did not love it then I was thoughtless and happy, and had a bright smile, little outstretched arms, and a cooing voice to welcome me at home : but he said he had heard me sing in Church, and that I sang sweetly, and he should like me to sing in the choir he was teaching, composed of school children and some young ladies and farmers' daughters. My parents did not object, and so I went, and I was very happy -it was very easy music, only grand and simple ; and oh, it swelled and sank through the aisles and under the arches, and it did not seem to me that it died away like common music, but that it rose up-up to the vaulted roof-and I thought it pierced the stone roof like paper, and went up-up to heaven, and lived there-and I loved it-and I was very happy. But

since then I have felt and hoped that some of the chants which were very sweet and lovely, sank down into the graves, and stayed there with the dead—for I think they would make even a grave bright and full of hope ” She paused, and thought a moment; then continued quickly and earnestly, “ And one day I had a beautiful dream-only it was not a dream, it was real-I was singing the Benedictus with the other children (we were practising) and my eye fell on the carved font which stood near the porch, and the light seemed to leave the aisles and the Church, and to shine bright and full on the font, and bright and full straight from the font to the altar, and there it shone like heaven, and all the rest was dark; and by the font stood a figure (and I knew it well) in a long white robe, and in his arms was baby, and he flung the glistening water on baby's face, and it clustered there in drops as my tears hang now on his grave. Oh not so; but bright, and glorious, and holy drops, speaking of love and heaven; and baby stretched out his small white arms lovingly to the kind Priest, and he made a sign over his forehead

-and the air was full of Angels; then the light all melted away into the dim twilight, and the figures were gone, but the Angels seemed to linger till they too faded into the faint light shed through the many-coloured windows into the old Church, and all was dark, yet holy, and I found that I was singing the Gloria at the end of the Benedictus loud and strong; and when it was over, Mr. Penryn looked at the lady who played the organ, and said, “Did you ever hear anything improve like Annie's voice ? it is beautiful!” “I never heard her sing like that,” said the young lady, smiling, “the child was inspired, I think.” I did not think of the praise, but when I went home, I begged mother to have baby baptized, and she consented, and it was done, and I loved him more than ever, and then he died.

“And has not Mr. Penryn come to see you since ?” said I.

“Oh we left our farm, and my father took another, and in the parish where we are now there is no clergyman, but one comes from a distance, and says prayers and preaches on a Sunday, but he never speaks to us; so I steal out here sometimes by night, to weep over Henry's grave, and then I feel very miserable, but happier than when I am at home; and I think if I could but die, there is this little bit of ground next baby~ so close to him—where I could make my bed, but then I should not see him under the cold earth and then I doubt about heaven, and do not wish to die,-and then I fear that if I do not die soon enough, some one else will be buried here, and I shall not sleep with baby at all.”

A sudden resolve entered my mind; I took her hand, "Annie," said I, “ dear Annie, go home now : promise me to do so, and

to-morrow I will bring Mr. Penryn to you. It was he baptized Henry; he only can comfort you.”

She smiled through her tears ; her eyes promised compliance, but her lips said, “ Ah, he will be angry with me!"

“He will be kind, and true, and tender,” answered I; “he will lead you to heaven by the path; for, Annie, there is but one." She faltered. “ Baby is waiting for you there, Annie,” I continued, “ will you refuse to join him ?”

Her tears flowed fast, but her smiles shone brightly through her tears.

She turned firmly from the grave,-she cast not one glance behind, but bent her fair young head to me, and raised her eyes to the sky as if she now saw her dear one there, not in his grave -and we parted.

CHURCH BELLS. “Wake me to-night, my mother dear,

In the dark winter, ere the snow
That I may hear

Had lost its glow,
The Christmas Bells so soft and clear,

This melody we learned ; and lo! To high and low glad tidings tell,

We hear it now in every breeze How God the Father loved us well,

That stirs on high the summer trees, How God the Eternal Son

We pause and look around Came to undo what we had done,

Where may the lone church-tower be How God the PARACLETE.

found, Who in the chaste womb framed the

That speaks our tongue so well ? Babe so sweet,

The dim peal in the torrent seems to In power and glory came, the birth

dwell, to aid and greet.

It greets us from afar in Ocean's mea

sured swell. "Wake me, that I the twelvemonth

Perhaps we sit at home, and dream long

On some high theme,
May bear the song

And forms, that in low embers gleam, About with me in the world's throng;

Come to our twilight Fancy's aid : That treasured joys of Christmas

Then, wavering as that light and tide

shade, May with mine hour of gloom abide;

The breeze will sigh and wail, The Christmas carol ring

And up and down its plaintive scale Deep in my heart, when I would sing;

Range fitfully, and bear Each of the twelve good days

Meet burden to the lowly whispered Its earnest yields of duteous love and

air, praise,

And ever the sweet bells, that charm'd Ensuring happy months, and hallow

Life's morn, are there. ing common ways.

The pine-logs on the hearth sometimes “Wake me again, my mother dear,

Mimic the chimes,
That I may hear

The while on high the white wreath The peal of the departing year.

climbs, O well I love, the step of Time

Which seething waters upward fling, Should move to that familiar chime: In prison wont to dance and sing, Fair fall the tones that steep

All to the same low tune. The Old Year in the dews of sleep, But most it loves in bowers of June The New guide softly in

At will to come and go, With hopes to sweet sad memories Where like a minster roof the arched

boughs show, Long may that soothing cadence ear, And court the pensive ear of loiterer heart, conscience, win.”

far below.

akin!

[graphic]

OUR VILLAGE CHURCHES. THERE is no surer test of the disposition and feelings of people, whether of our own age, or of those that are past, than is to be found in the furniture and arrangement of their houses; the solemn dignity of a feudal castle as much proclaims the manners of those who occupied such a residence, as the fashionable decoration of a modern mansion assures us of the character of those who inherit it. So true is it that “ out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," and the higher we ascend in the subjects of our contemplation, the truer shall we find the application of these words, for the works left by preceding ages testify their truth, no less than those at present progressing

« ZurückWeiter »