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to help the poor blind man who lodges with us : he is so good and patient, that I never mind how much I wait upon him ; but he can do a great deal for himself, and tries to give as little trouble as
At mention of the blind man, Will coloured, and appeared confused, then somewhat recovering himself, he said,
“I didn't know he was your lodger," and so turning the subject, which made him uncomfortable, he remarked,
“You must have dull life of it, Nell, cooped up all day, and working like a slave.”
“I am never dull, and love to be employed; besides, on Sundays, I go to Church and the Sunday School, and I see my favourite Ann Jarvis there, and mother likes her, and don't object to my acquainting along with such a good girl.”
“ Well," added Nelly, taking the Bible in her hands, “I can't bear to waste my time, so I shall read to myself if you don't choose to listen,"
Will made no reply, but leant his head on his hands, and kept up a low moan, except interrupting Nelly occasionally to know when she thought the potatoes would be done, which she had set on the fire for dinner. Nelly, who was fond of reading, had opened on the history of Joseph and his brethren, and was so much absorbed in it, that she did not hear a tap at the door, nor had Will, who was occupied by incessantly shaking up and down a threelegged stool that stood near him, so that Mr. Bennett was in the cottage and close to them before they were aware of it.
“Who is that little girl reading the Bible with so much atten. tion ?" said he to Will, who started and coloured at the sudden appearance of the gentleman. Nelly, hearing a voice, raised her eyes, and seeing Mr. Bennett, rose and made a courtesy.
“Now I see your face,” observed Mr. Bennett, “I know you are Mrs. Jones's daughter, and a constant attendant at school and Church. You are fond of reading,” continued he,
are you not ?" “Very, sir,” said Nelly, smiling.
“ But why do you not give Will the benefit of hearing the Scriptures read ? he has great need of improvement.”
Nelly blushed and hesitated, and then said, on the question being repeated,
“ He did not wish to hear the Bible read, sir. I did ask him to let me read it to him.”
Will was going to make some poor excuse, when Mr. Bennett stopped him, and with much feeling endeavoured to impress upon his mind the necessity of sincere repentance, and complete change of conduct.
“The wilful blindness of your mind,” he remarked, “is infinitely worse for you, than the loss of sight. This affliction is a merciful dispensation of Providence to save you from the state of
sinfulness you were falling into. Pray let my words sink deep into your heart, and do not wantonly turn away from the instruction which is mercifully cast in your way ; listen, and profit by it."
Before he had quite concluded speaking, Mrs. Nash returned home: she had only been out for half a day, and she attentively listened to Mr. Bennett's words, for she had her son's reform deeply at heart.
“ Your first step towards amendment should be,” observed Mr. Bennett, “ to ask the pardon of the poor blind man you so cruelly used.”
“Yes,” interrupted Mrs. Nash, “I am sure you should, for I met him just now, and he very kindly inquired after you: he feels no spite against you, Will; he said he sincerely hoped that you would, by the blessing of God, recover your sight, and that he should come some evening and ask you how you are.”
“ I am glad, Will, that you will have an opportunity of putting in practice one of the most serious admonitions, that of curing the pride of your heart, by acknowledging your fault,” said Mr. Bennett.
As soon as the Clergyman was gone, Nelly went home, where she was much wanted; and as Mrs. Nash had employment which would occupy her for several days, she declined Nelly's kind help till the next time she went out. Will had seldom been at home with his mother in the day time, and often did not come in before quite late in the evening, so that he was not aware how hard his poor industrious mother had to work to support herself and keep him. He now began to reflect as he looked at her pale face, and observed her thin form hanging over a wash-tub, or standing for hours at an ironing board, how neglectful and wicked he had been, and his heart smote him for his bad conduct. Mr. Bennett's words were thought of, and when his mother asked him to join her in her prayers night and morning, he cheerfully consented. But it was a difficult matter for Will to conquer his bad habits, and he often felt his heart rebellious, but he had, happily for himself, friends ready to assist in the good work of repentance.
Mr. Bennett often called at the widow's cottage. He was patient and persevering in his endeavours to lead Will into the right path, well knowing how hard a matter it is even for the best-intentioned, and most watchful Christians to walk therein. Justly has it been said, “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth to eternal life.”
Next time Nelly Jones came to attend upon Will, his mother being out, he said to her, “ I will not refuse your offer to read in the Bible to me to-day, Nelly, if you will be so good as to do it." She willingly consented, and read to him the parable of the “ prodigal son,” and as she had herself been so much interested by the history of Joseph and his brethren, she read that also, stopping every now and then to tell him the account which blind Ned had
given her of the manners and customs of Eastern nations, he having travelled among them and seen the birds, animals, and insects of those hot countries. He especially spoke of the patient endurance of the camel, and the manner in which it carried a supply of water to relieve its parching thirst when crossing the desert. Will was so much interested with the history of Joseph, and Nelly's amusing comments as related by the blind man, that he felt eager to be able to read himself; and he sighed to think how often he had stayed away from school, the short time he had gone there, for that, among other things, he had sadly neglected.
How often it happens, that we refuse to make use of the good that is at hand till it is out of our power to regain it. A long time elapsed before Will recovered the use of one eye; the other was entirely lost to him. The doctor's bill was a heavy one, although he had favoured Will's mother considerably in the charges, and allowed her to pay part of it by washing for his family. The blind man came and received Will's expression of contrition for his cruel conduct to him. He was fully pardoned by poor Ned, who frequently repeated his visits, and by his patient example and improving conversation, did much to effect a permanent reformation in Will's character. Through Mr. Bennett's kind representation of the distress Mrs. Nash had fallen into, Mr. Strickland again gave her bis washing, and recommended her to some of his friends.
Now that Will had the desire of assisting his mother, he had not the power, and it was a long time before any occupation could be found for him ; but at last, through the kind exertions of Mr. Bennett, he got a place in a farmer's family, which situation he kept for many years.
He was careful in saving his wages in order to assist his mother in her declining age; and although he had lost an eye, he considered the affliction a merciful dispensation of Providence, as it had been the means of turning his heart to repentance, and of teaching him to love and fear God.
JOURNAL OF A RESIDENCE AT S. COLUMBA.* This interesting little volume is by Mr. Sewell, a person whose happy peculiarity consists in the living spirit he infuses into his ideas, and the influence he exercises over others, so as to realize those theories which some only talk and write about. One method by which Mr. Sewell endeavours to animate the Church, was the establishment of the College of S. Columba. The plan of the institution is to revive the principle of education as it existed in the earlier ages of the Reformation. In its title of warden and fellows, its arrangement of common rooms, daily service, meals common to teachers and scholars, with some other things, the system of S. Columba resembles that of the college as part of the university; whereas in the age of the boys it partakes of the character of a foundation school. It is under the auspices of Churchmen, who have been trained in the universities; of course classics and mathematics form a leading feature in the system of education; but the Irish language is the main point at the college of S. Columba, because persons speaking the native language have on that account a great influence over the peasantry, and on this they rely as a means of obtaining converts from Rome. At present the boys are only sons of gentlemen, but the promoters look forward to the time when they may have the sons of Clergymen or their orphans on the foundation, whilst a limited number of rough unlettered Irish boys are instructed in household duties as the servants, who receive religious education, and in case of talent might hereafter be eligible to the fellowships. The following serious accident occurred within two or three days of the vacation, and whilst they were prepared for an expected visit from the Bishop and others on the following Monday.
* Journal of a Residence at the College of S. Columba, in Ireland. By the Rev. W. Sewell, B.D. Parker : Oxford.
“And now for a providential escape the whole college have had. On Saturday, myself and three of the fellows dined with our Rector, the Archdeacon of M- I sat next to Mrs. B., who spoke with great interest of the college. We came back late, and I had scarcely been asleep two hours, when I was awoke by the ringing of the bell. I thought it was the usual signal for getting up. Presently I heard something like an explosion and a hurried voice : I jumped out of bed, slipped on my dressing-gown and shoes, and was hastening down stairs, when K came in his shirt to tell me the house was on fire. The fireworks for Monday which had been brought down from Dublin, had been deposited by the warden, according to the directions of the maker, in a great oak wardrobe in his own room, with the greatest care, but they had ignited spontaneously and exploded. There were rockets, blue lights, and the usual display of such things, to the value of eight pounds. Providentially the warden had refused to allow anything of which the explosion might be dangerous. The first terror was then for the warden. To our inexpressible relief he was safe: he had just got into bed, having closed the door of his bedroom, from which, happily, there was another egress through his dressing-room. At the first explosion he thought it was a mob smashing the windows and breaking into the house; but when the rockets went off with their horrible hissing, he at once saw what was the
matter, leaped out of bed, and escaped by the dressing-room to ring the bell, in which act, as often occurs, a second frightful accident nearly happened, for the bell broke, and if it had fallen on his head would probably have killed him. We were all assembled in a minute or two, and our first effort was to open the door, so far as to discover, if possible, how much of the room was on fire. And one of the fellows, C-,with a noble spirit, insisted on creeping in on hands and feet, but on opening the door, there rushed out such a volume, not of ordinary smoke, but of dense sulphureous metallic pestilential vapour, that we could not allow him to penetrate, and dragged him back. He would probably have been poisoned. The room was on the ground floor, and we were enabled to get over the area to the window, and there perceived it wrapped in a tremendous blaze, which it would have been impossible to approach : we therefore ordered the doors to be kept thoroughly fastened, and stopped up with blankets the panes of glass which had been smashed in the windows; then with all bands proceeded to deluge the room over the one on fire with water. Our first thought of course had been the boys, and they behaved admirably. No screaming, no shrieking. They got out of their beds and came down stairs, though such a volume of pestilential smoke had rushed up the back stairs, on which the door of the warden's rooms opens, that candles would not burn, and we were nearly suffocated. We searched all the little cuticles or cells with miserable anxiety in the dark, lest any one should be there; but on counting them in the hall, we were relieved beyond expression to find them all safe ; and as the staircase became clearer from smoke, the three senior boys went up with one of the fellows, gutted the dormitory of bedclothes, &c., and they all came to the common room, which has a door opening on the lawn, and there lay down upon the floor, nestling close to each other without a word, or apparent anxiety, knowing that of all our property they were the most valuable, and putting entire confidence in our managing for them. It was almost worth such a frightful accident to have such a proof oi their confidence in us, and of the fellows' affection for them. Having fixed a ladder at the bottom of the area against the window, we watched the flames raging, and licking up to the ceiling, over both the fireplace and where the oak wardrobe had stood. But mercifully from the fireworks having been confined, it seemed they had not scattered over the room. The wall against which the oak wardrobe stood was solid without any timber work, and by deluging the floor above, we had the satisfaction of finding that the ceiling was likely to be preserved. At last it was clear that the fire of the wardrobe was wearing itself out, having consumed it wholly, and the only fear now was for the floor. I