« PreviousContinue »
anything be plainer than that? The Holy Spirit applied that reasoning to my heart, and I have been rejoicing ever since."
My readers will agree with me that this was a true cause of rejoicing. Old age is sometimes prone-as the senses lose their sharpness and the powers of imagination and intellect become dull-to value inordinately the material possessions with which it is surrounded, and few things are more profoundly affecting than the sight of an immortal being, trembling on the brink of eternity, and yet with no other riches than the things of time, which must so soon be left behind.
It was a case of this kind that brought out the memorable reply of a great moralist when a rich old man took him into his magnificent pleasure-grounds, and, pointing to the signs of wealth and luxury that were all around, asked, in a voice quavering with excitement, "What more could I wish ?" "Permanence," was the wise man's faithful rebuke and warning. It was this permanence that gave General R's happiness its true value. All who had the pleasure of knowing him in the closing years of his life, testified to his absent son of their remarkable brightness. Even when his eyes waxed dim, and at length failed altogether, the outward darkness was illuminated by the sunshine that filled the old man's heart. "Quite happy!" was his unvarying testimony, until the shadows of earth passed away, and the darkened eyes were opened in heaven to see the King in His beauty. What more can I wish for my readers, whether old or young, than that such an assured hope, and such true riches, and such a bright sunset, may be theirs?
M. C. F.
To a Butterfly in the Streets of London.
HENCE came ye, little wanderer, with your tired and drooping wing?
What brought you to these dusty streets, poor weary little thing? Did you miss the path in your homeward flight last eve, as the sun went down,
And wandering through the lonely night have reached the murky town?
Oh! how will you miss the pure green fields, and the flowers so fresh and fair,
In this hot, heavy atmosphere, and dewless, parching air;
In this maze of streets, with their noise and din, will you find a place to rest?
Or 'mid "bricks and mortar" make a home, and still your fluttering breast?
Ah me! I much fear you have wandered here-in the wilderness-to
For our window-gardens' sickly flowers scant food can e'er supply ;
Wanderers from home! we here abound, amid the city's din,
Oh! that before the dark night come we turn our eyes and see
Dick Morgan's Excuse.
H. D. I.
ATTY, my lass, how soon could 'ee get tea ?" said Dick, when the lass made her appearance. Matty could only stare, for if there was one point more than another on which Dick was particular, it was that of having his meals "riglar and punctool." "For,"
said he, "I've been in the lettering trade all my life;" though what this especial trade had to do with regular meals and punctual hours no one could tell, except that perhaps he had been under a strict master, who expected his men to go to and come from their dinners like clock-work. Well, he answered Matty's stare by saying
"I've a bit of an errand out o' doors, and can't go without summat first."
More mystified than ever, Matty simply said—
"To once, maister, if you like it; the kettle boils." "Knowed I wanted her, belike !" said Dick, trying to be facetious to his pleasant young handmaiden; but when she closed the door he said to himself, seriously
"Old grey-headed lads like me! Sure enough, next we shall expect the youngsters to turn into cripples! But his (meaning Mr. Grey's) words were sore telling, and worth looking in the face. One thing, folks won't know me of a night, for 'twill be dark by then, and-"
Matty's entrance here stopped Dick's private talk to himself; but when the little maiden left he began again. I cannot help thinking he did so to keep up his courage, for I daresay you know, dear reader, that we often break silence with our own voices when our thoughts are not over pleasant to meet alone. Tea over, Dick again sounded his clapper for Matty. His clapper was a bell without a tongue, that he knocked against the fire-shovel or poker.
"Matty, child, you goes upstairs; in my cubbard, agin the wall, there'm a great-coat, bring en down; wait, lassie— in the box agin my other door, there'm a comfortable and a hat and a pair of hand-covers without thumbs; bring 'em down, every child of his mother, bring 'em all to me, d'ye hear, Mat?"
Sure, I do; but 'twill be dark presently, and you'll be getting of ''chitis' again if you goes out in the fog, maister." But Dick gave a nod that Matty read into "go," so, as she was an obedient girl, she ran up the rickety stairs with
out another word, except one of explanation to herself. "Comfortable! That means what mother calls comforter, I 'spose; a red thing to go round the neck." She returned quickly with the articles, and as Dick commenced putting them on, she could not help exclaiming
'Why, maister, whatever be after ?"
This was soon made known, for "maister" said—
"Now then, lass, out for your bonnet and shawl, and quick back." "Out" meant home, for she lived next door. No sooner said than done. Matty presently stood before him, dressed fit for a walk on a cold winter's night.
Now, then, for my stick and crutch." His stick was a stout oaken one, and his crutch was Matty's shoulder, and the "crutch" considered she had the place of honour, for was she not on his "weak side?" And so, dear readers, should we always think it an honour to help the weak, and support them step by step as they pass through the dangers of this life. It is what our blessed Lord did; He came to save and help us when we were too weak to do anything for ourselves; it is what the Holy Spirit said by the mouth of the Apostle Paul, in these words, "Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed." If our hearts condemn us on this point, and tell us we have not kept this commandment nor followed the example of the Lord Jesus Christ in helpfulness and kindness, let us remember, in regard to the past, that God is greater than our hearts,2 and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin; and for the future strive to show sincere repentance on this point by prayerfully endeavouring to "Bear one another's burdens."
When Dick reached Mitre Lane and turned Matty's shoulder towards the entrance, she said, supposing he had taken the wrong turning,
1 Hebrews xii. 12, 13.
I John iii. 20.
3 1 John i. 7.
"Please, maister, there ain't nothing down here except St. Michael's Night Schools."
Night Schools! Who be they for then?"
"For them who didn't learn when they might have done it easy."
"And when was that, child?" asked Dick, wincing under this unintended and unexpected rebuke.
'Why, when they was little, be sure. Our lesson to-day was all about it; and when our teacher had made us all learn this text, he said that we ought to be very thankful if we was taught proper whilst we was young."
"What were the texses ?" asked Dick, with more eagerness than he cared to show, and yet could not quite hide.
"Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.' But then, though, teacher said this didn't mean only book training, but good training; and he hoped we'd all have it. I s'pose you had it plentiful, maister?" added Matty, innocently, sharing the notion of most children that their elders must be "all right."
In reply, Dick coughed and complained of the fog, then he suddenly said
"But what o' the book training, my lass? If a fellow an't had that when a youngster, what's he to do when he's old ?"
"Go to yon Night Schools," promptly replied Matty; "minister builded 'em on purpose for old folks to learn in by nights, when we're done with.
"Please, maister, there ain't nothing down here, really, but them Night Schools," repeated Matty.
"Nothing but! Be that the way them as goes there talks of them schools ? "
"No, sure!" Matty flushed at the idea. "No, sure, what should us be without them? And I know that big Bill Carter, who goes to the 'Night,' says he blesses God first, then Mr. Grey, for them schools. And we love 'em dearly, for there, and there"
1 Prov. xxii. 6.