Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

from the upper windows of his house an Englishman as he did when "The across the river, and beyond the high Task” was written; England is again ground of Filgrave to the Brickhills, at war in one of her colonies; the Evanand even down the valley of the Ousel gelical movement has done its work, to the distant Chilterns, a smiling but and quieted down; but is Cowper's call almost mountainous prospect; for it is to greater earnestness any less necesone of Ouse's tricks to veil his gentle sary to-day than it was a hundred slopes in such a gauzy haze as gives years ago? Amusement still takes the the effect of steep hills and mighty dis- first place in the thoughts of the many; tances. Behind Weston is Yardley the drunkard still staggers in our Chase, with the great oaks that Cow- streets; behind the noble frontages of per worshipped. The tree to which he our expanded towns there is still the addressed an unfinished poem is pol- squalid heap of derelict humanity. larded; the real monarchs of the forest Cowper does not bid us to be gloomy; are two, a little further from Weston, his call is not to asceticism, but to a which he used often to visit, and some- recognition that there is something times known as Gog and Magog. One more to be lived for than the satisfacof them, however, is also known as tion of our own desires. Particular Judith, and there is a tradition that it forms of recreation were needlessly ofwas planted by, or in honor of, the fensive to the society with which he Countess Judith, half-sister of William lived. We smile when we find him the Conqueror, to whom the greater dealing no less severely with a clergy. part of the surrounding country was man who played the violin after service given by her brother. The trees are on Sundays, than with his sporting certainly of very great antiquity, and neighbor. His detestation of cardthe fact that they alone, among the an- playing appears to us out of proportion; cient oaks of the forest, have been left but then we have forgotten what cardunpollarded, indicates some special as- playing meant in those days—what an sociation.

endless waste of time, of health, of The last years of the poet's life at money. Whenever we are disposed to Weston are painful to think of. Mrs. be annoyed with Cowper's disproporUnwin was breaking down, and Cow- tionate censures we must recall the per, from having been patient, had be- circumstances in which he lived, the come nurse; insanity gained upon him, dependence upon others imposed by his and took a new form, which was ag- malady, and the not altogether happy gravated by

the

foolish ministra- fate which determined those who tions of a foolish schoolmaster at Ol- should control his destinies at a critical ney. Still, there were lucid intervals, period of his life. Surely there must, and not unfrequent flashes of the old after all, have been an enormous vitalbright wit. In 1795 his cousin Johnson ity in the man to write as much as he removed the invalids to Norfolk. Mrs. did, and as well as he did, placed as Unwin died the following year, and at

he was. the end of April, 1800, Cowper's tor- Of all our teachers Cowper is the tured clay found rest.

most sincere; he lived as he preached, A century has passed since Cowper brightening the common things of life rambled by the Ouse-a century of un- with humor, sanctifying them with paralleled movement in all that ad- love; and this is why the gentle Ouse vances the material resources of man- has its votaries. It is impossible to diskind-and yet how little

are sociate his water-lilies and his reeds, changed! The Frenchman still hates his poplars and his willows, his broad

we

meadows and wooded slopes, from the in the atmosphere which was breathed memory of the man of whom it was by no mean English poet, gliding besaid: "If there is a good man living, it neath hills clothed with trees, is William Cowper.”

or between wide meadows; but he The country has but little changed in would do well not to surrender himself the course of a century. The ruins of unguardedly to the calm pleasure of Capability Brown's exploits are still plain sailing, lest he should rue his traceable at Weston; the square tower error lost in the mazes of a reed-bed. of Clifton still looks down upon the Failing this adventure his events will spire of Olney; there is still a clump be the scream and flash of a kingfisher, of poplars at Lavendon Mill; there is or the sulky croak of a heron disturbed still a wealth of flowering rushes with in his meal of freshwater mussels. their cherry-scented blossoms, of broad- From Turvey to Bedford the journey leaved plants varying the monotony of is well enough for a while, but he the reeds, of purple loose-strife, of blue must, indeed, be fond of water-ways forget-me-not. An adventurous holi- who does not weary of those seven-fold day-maker who could, for a couple of wanderings of the river below Sharndays, forego the delights of dusty roads brook; and yet these also are sacred and the rushing wheel might find a less to the memory of a poet. It was here agreeable pastime than a voyage in a that Edward Fitzgerald used to dream canoe from Newport Pagnell down to and fish. Omar Khayyam and Cow. Turvey. Thus he might bathe himself per meet upon the Ouse.

J. C. Tarver. Macmillan's Magazine.

[blocks in formation]

THE SHAME OF WILLIAM DANBY.

A new curate was coming to the par- comfortably off that must go someish church, and there was a flutter of where for a holiday, and wear decent interest, not, it is to be feared, exclu- gloves and have hot joints for dinner, sively spiritual.

that I am sorry for. The poor! RubThe marriage-garden of Kirkholm re- bish!" lied for a good deal of its husbandry "He is coming on Friday,” said Dora, upon young clergymen and young doc- the youngest daughter, when this irtors, and perhaps the solid infuence of relevance showed symptoms of subsidArchdeacon Whittaker owed more than ing, "and he preaches at the iron churcb he knew to the eligibility of his cu- on Sunday evening. rates. For many years past he had "Then I hope," said Mrs. Whitworth, given no title to a candidate without "they will have the seats cleaned. I sufficient social claims, and the falling- really don't know what they want with in of little livings kept happy time with a chapel of ease at that dirty end of the the engagements of his staff. Only one town. Ease, indeed! Ease ought to of the parish clergy had married out begin with an f and another letter. We of the congregation-and he was, ex- must ask him to supper, poor, lonely emplarily, a curate still. Consequently young man." people spoke with more than titular re- "Mr. How should be told to bring spect of "our Venerable Archdeacon," him,” said Dora. “Had not you better. and little oddities as a preacher-such write, Lil?" as a tendency to lose his place and to "Nonsense,” said Lilian; "why should give the same sermon on two succes- I write?" Mr. How was her particular sive Sundays-were treated with smil- curate. ing toleration.

Sunday came and there was a large "Preaching, indeed!” said Mrs. Whit- congregation at the chapel of ease, Mrs.. worth, whose daughter Lilian was very Whitworth, after a hasty conference nearly engaged to one of the four cu- with the verger and a little flapping of rates; "it is practice that tells. Look his gown, sat down in a front seat, supat that Pollock person!" (Mr. Pollock ported by Mrs. Bagwell and Miss Ainy was the vicar of St. Ann's). “You'd Finch. The two Whitworth girls had think from his sermons the man was

declined to be thrust into such extreme really in earnest, and yet when he prominence. A modesty ill-requited comes down from the pulpit how does by Mrs. Sedgwick, for she beckoned up. he behave? 'Bear one another's bur- her own young ladies, after the service dens,' indeed-and three married had begun, knowing that Emma looked rates running!"

almost pretty when she blushed. There “But he is a very hard worker," Lil- was a little coolness between the heads ian remarked. "He has done a great of the Whitworth and Sedgwick housedeal among the poor.”

hold, consequent upon that, but happily “Oh, no doubt, no doubt," answered it did not involve the girls, who reher mother; "we hear far too much spected one another's love of fair play. about the slums. The lower classes are "I am so sorry, Dora," Julia Sedgwick very well off. It's we that are the poor. said, when the service was over, and I don't pity your mill-hands at all-who the young people were walking home minds what class they travel? It's the in a cluster. “Mother meant kindly.

CU

was

of course, but I hope you don't believe"

Of course not," said Dora. “Well, what do you think of him?"

"C when he falls over his surplice rather less, and can find his way a little in the prayers and does not drop his voice so much, and gives out some of the right hymns, we shall be able to judge better.”

"He's nothing to Mr. Richardson," Lilian said. "Don't you remember we heard him muttering to himself 'Oh, dear me, dear me! and he ran his poor hair up into positive spikes. This one -Mr. Danby-was not so bad as that."

“But how unlucky that he could not discover how to get into the pulpit. I really thought he would have to climb up, band over-Oh!"

There was a voice in Julia's ear. “I beg your pardon," it said. “I believe I

er-" All the girls turned round and there was the new curate bowing and smiling.

"How has been called to a sick case,” he said; “may I introduce myself ?"

He shook hands all round with the disconcerted girls. Then he turned to Julia,

"There ought to be a finger-post,” he said, "glancing towards the pulpit.”

“Oh, pray forgive me,” said Julia, "but of course-"

"Why, what is there to forgive? You were very kind, I am sure.”

“On the whole we really were complimentary."

Oh, were you?-I think that must have been before I came up. Your kindness seemed to me of the castigating kind."

"Oh, that is ungrateful. Why, we said you did not—"

“I can claim no credit for that. My hair won't go into spikes."

At the corner the Sedgwicks said good-bye, and the Whitworths carried bome their prize.

By comparison he really was rather a prize. At any rate, he was not a blank. His manners were perfectly easy, and his conversational powers above the modest Kirkholm average. The only thing that went at all against the grain of approval was his silence concerning his family. Little halfquerries elicited no information, and to direct interrogation even Mrs. Whitworth would not at once proceed. There

time enough for that. Prima facie a gentleman, with an Oxford degree, and a name pleasantly suggestive of noble connections—the young man deserved every encouragement.

"Now come often," said Mrs. Whitworth, when he rose to say good-bye. “Come whenever you feel inclinedwhenever you feel lonely. You are sure to find some of us in, and there's always enough for supper."

“How could you say that, mother?" Lilian asked, when the young man had gone. “Bread and cheese, and the cold ends of pudding.”

“There are tins in the cupboard,” said Mrs. Whitworth, loftily. “Besides, he'll have the sense to go in time. I hope there is nothing wrong about his connections."

“Why, if it comes to that,” said Dora, "look at Uncle Joe."

,"No, Dora," answered her mother. “I will not look at Uncle Joe. I prefer to look at Aunt Basset and Cousin Catherine. Your Cousin Catherine might have been Lady Mudge."

"At the sound of that dreaded name the girls took their candles. Mrs. Whitworth mounted upon the possible Lady Mudge was too high for anything.

“I like him, Lil," said Dora when the girls were in their own room.

"Strange,” Lilian answered, “when he showed such a marked antipathy to you."

Young Mr. Danby was soon in a fair way to become notable

among the Archdeacon's successes. Having at

[blocks in formation]

an

length overcome those initial difficulties enumerated by Miss Sedgewick, he won much favor in the pulpit. It was a long time since the parish church had been blessed with

extempore preacher. Though a few people complained that Mr. Danby's arguments had a tendency to fade imperceptibly away, and that, while some of his sen. tences terminated with singular abruptDess, others did not terminate at all, the mass of the congregation congratulated itself on having got one of the right sort. It was felt that while be wanted to say something and couldn't, the average curate wanted to say nothing and could. “Ay," chuckled the old illiterates, “but it's nice to hear a bit of talk." That was, indeed, a fair description of the young man's pulpit style. It was pervaded by an earnest familiarity. It had no eloquence, no brilliancy, no distinction. It lacked the ozone of intellectuality, the delicate airs of suggestion. It touched a few problems, and it yielded many stories. It left the imagination unfed, but it button-holed the conscience. “He gives it you,” remarked a toper, who had come to hear him, “as straight as the missus on Saturday night.” In a little while it became evident that the people looked out for the new curate's turn. The church was always full when it was known that he was going to preach.

It cannot be pretended that this popularity excited no bitterness in the clerical bosom. The senior curate reluctantly admitted his disgust. "Hitherto," he said, "the parish church has not been sensational. We have left that sort of thing to St. Ann's and the Bethels; I wonder the dear Archdeacon stands it."

“Come!' said How; “Danby is a really good fellow. He is thoroughly in earnest."

"Oh yes," answered the senior, lifting a refined hand and pushing vulgarity gently away, “your bull of Basban al

ways is, but a man can be in earnest without letting himself down. I'd rather see the church empty than tell anecdotes about little boys being run over and saved by Bibles in their breast-pockets, and soldiers converted by screws of tobacco done up in leaves of ‘Songs and Solos.'”

"It's a matter of taste," said How.

“Yes, and I can't get the taste out of my mouth. He makes the better sort horribly uncomfortable."

“But we make them a great deal too comfortable. I, for example, as is only too evident, am a powerful soporitic."

“Better send them to sleep with sound dogma than make them blubber with Moody's stories. I wish Danby welland well out of the parish church."

And something of that sort really did eventuate.

Danby was told off more and more for chapel-of-ease duty, until his work amounted to a sole charge of Back End. Back End might have smelt no sweeter under a rosier name, but it certainly fell short of fragrance under its own.

It was not until he had entered into the husbandry of that neglected vineyard that the young man's quality came out. He threw himself heart and soul into the work. The little chapel was crowded to the doors. His best sermons were preached out of church. In a little while there was not a child whose name and character he did not know, nor a man for whose wages he could not account. He invaded publichouses at the cost (not entirely to himself) of beautiful black eyes. He instituted or vitalized clothing clubs, night schools, mothers' meetings, cottage lectures, a crèche, a boys' brigade, a cricket club, a gymnasium, a library. He walked arm in arm with oily men, not in condescension, but in natural goodfellowship. His pockets bulged with half-pounds of tea. And when the present was made he asked to have a cup with the happy old lady, and he

« ZurückWeiter »