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The Beacon! What is a Beacon? What does it ' ment, Beacons were parts of the general system mean, and why is this paper to be so called ? It is of defence. In most of our counties some high probable that this will be the question asked by hills still retain the name, which
the many into whose hands this paper may fall; purpose to which they had been formerly applied. and as no one seems so immediately bound to In that lofty ridge which goes by the name of supply the answer as he who occasions the en- the Malvern Hills, the summit that looks eastquiry, the first step which the Editor of the ward is called the Worcestershire Beacon; and Beacon takes, shall be to explain the reason of that on the western side, the Herefordshire the name which is affixed to his paper; and in Beacon; doubtless because that on each of these doing so to give his readers some idea of the eminences stacks of furze, or other combustible object contemplated, and of the purposes which matters used to be raised, to be fired on the event it is desired to accomplish. A Beacon, if we of an invasion, and to give notice to the country refer to Johnson's Dictionary, we shall find to be at large of the danger that was at hand. We a word expressive of two different objects, em- may conceive, with little effort of imagination, ployed for different purposes, but each eminently what the effect must have been which was prouseful. Such, we hope, our present publication duced by this awful notice. The blaze, as it rose will prove; and as we believe that the word upwards to the sky, must have carried terror and made use of is peculiarly appropriate, and does alarm over the country which lay below. A few signify with great exactness the objects we have minutes before, all that was there was calm and in view; we are not unwilling to adopt the peaceful. The cattle were penned in their yards; definition of the dictionary as the description of the families were collected in their homes, and our work, and to illustrate the end to be promoted locked in sleep, dreaming of the work or the by our undertaking through the use to which pleasure of the past day, and anticipating the Beacons of another kind have been turned. A same for the morrow. The first sleeper's eye that Beacon, the great Lexicographer tells us, is de opened, and beheld the ruddy Aame enlightening rived from a Saxon word which means a signal; the heaven, was the commencement of general and he describes it first as something raised on alarm; and the scream which woke the sleeping an eminence, to be fired on the approach of an family must have spread from house to house enemy to alarm the country -- Another sense he with the rapidity of terror. Mothers must have adds, which is that of marks erected, or lights been seen starting from sleep, snatching up their made in the night, to direct navigators in their children, gathering together the most moveable course, and warn them from rocks, shallows, and or the most valuable articles of property, and sand-banks.
preparing hastily for flight. The men must have We see at once that the use of a Beacon was two- been seen driving off the cattle to some place of fold. It was to give warning against an enemy, safety, or girding on their arms to meet the apand it was to give guidance towards a friend; it proaching enemy. In a word, the Beacon fire had a double use, and a double purpose; and gave notice of danger; and notice was given, in taking this name for the present publication, that men might take warning by the Beacon, we think that we have intimated, as distinctly as
to escape. a name can do, the objects to which it will be On such a subject it may be allowed to borrow directed, and the end which, under God's blessing, the language of poetry, for prose cannot do justice we trust it may be found to accomplish.
to it, and the lines of Sir Walter Scott's Lay of The first purpose of a Beacon, we are told, is the Last Minstrel must be cited as describing to give warning of an enemy's approach. In for- with a force and truth peculiar to himself, the mer times, when wars were more common, and effects which were produced by this notice in before this country enjoyed the blessings which ancient times. the mercy of God has vouchsafed to us through
Is yon the star, o'er Pencryst Pen a united kingdom, and an established govern
That rises slowly to her ken;
And spreading broad its wavering light,
left the shore. Nothing, however, could promise more Shakes its loose tiesses on the night?
fairly than the elements at the time when they went Is yon red glare the western star?
aboard. The sky was clear; the sea, merely ruffled by 0, 'tis the Beacon-blaze of warm! Scarce could she draw her tightened breath,
a breeze, allowed the boat to skim rapidly over its For well she knew the fire of death!
surface; and they glided on, delighted with their sucThe warden viewed it blazing strong,
cess, till the town had disappeared, and the cliffs were And blew his war-note loud and long;
fast sinking out of sight. By this time it was obviously Till at the high and haughty sound,
necessary to return, but this young pilot had not taken Rock, wood, and river rung around.
into consideration the flood-tide which they had to meet, The blast alarmed the festal ball,
and the effect that the current would have
their And startled forth the warriors all.
The rest of this animated and picturesque The boat, however, was put about, her head was description we must omit, leaving to our readers
turned to the point which they knew to be their home; to consult or not, as they think fit, the poem from and the return was commenced, though with spirits which the passage is taken. Our purpose is less cheerful than before. Gradually the evening set served by shewing that this was the use of a in, and with the evening came on a fog, so thick that Beacon in its first sense that it was a signal of it was impossible to see any thing more than a danger, a means of giving wide and general hundred yards distant. The sea no longer wore the notice of an enemy at hand.
bright blue tint which had delighted them in the mornSuch also will be the object of the present
ing, but looked dark and yellow. The cheerful ripple publication. It is intended that by its means an
of the morning gave way to a heavy dull swell, and the alarm shall be sounded whenever any dangerous
boat, instead of bounding over the waves as it had done errors are creeping on the public mind. It will
before, alternately sunk or rose on
a wave, which in be our object to look round the whole horizon
the darkness of the evening seemed little less than a
mountain. The spirits of the party subsided under this of society, and wherever we see mischief coming,
change of circumstances. Instead of the incessant talk wherever we see Irreligion, Infidelity, or Vice
i nd loud laugh which had been heard, they gradually invading the land, the world shall have notice
grew silent; each drew nearer to his neighbour; and given, the sleepers shall be awakened, the weak
a whispering enquiry, which alone broke the stillness, shall be told to fly, the bold and the manly shall betrayed every now and then the anxiety that was felt be called out to resist the enemy, and protect by each. At last the father of the family, in a low themselves.
tone of voice, addressed the sailor-lad who was at the We have seen that a Beacon likewise signifies helm, and asked him what he knew of their situation ? “marks erected, or lights made in the night, to The answers which he received were anything but direct navigators in their course, and warn them satisfactory. That the boat's head had been pointed from rocks, shallows, and sand-banks.”
rightly when they commenced their return was certain ; If one part of our office will be to give warning
but whether she had kept her course, whether the tide of danger, another and a more agreeable part
had not had an effect, or what that effect had been, he will be that of guiding to comfort and to peace
could not presume to know. They might have swerved those who are in error and distress; and we do
from the right line, and been unconsciously stealing not know that we can illustrate this
over towards the French Coast; they might have been part of our
drifting with the current towards the Goodwin Sands; object better than by the simple narrative of an
all this might have been happening, and as they had occasion when a Beacon was found useful.
no compass on board, and not a star was to be seen It happened some years ago that a family who were above, it was impossible to speak confidently on the residing for the benefit of the sea air at D
subject. Replies like these were not calculated to reinduced by the solicitations of the eldest son, a fine lad lieve the mind of an anxious and affectionate parent, of fifteen, to attempt an excursion on the sea. The and he sunk into sad and melancholy musings as to the boat, which was chosen by the proposer of the ex- consequences that might follow. Earnestly, but vainly, cursion, was a small one belonging to an old man in did they strain their eyes in the hope of seeing some the place, and which he was in the habit of letting out star in the heaven which might enable them to ascertain to the visitors. On most occasions he made a point of their course or some vessel from which information going in it himself; but sometimes when the weather might be obtained. The younger children, overcome was fair, and the sail was to be short, he trusted it to by the cold and damp, began to cry. The mother the management of his grandson, a lad not older than struggled against her own fears in endeavouring to the youth by whom the vessel was engaged. On this soothe and comfort then:; and the father tried to occasion the appearance of the weather was so favour- persuade her there was no real reason for alarm, while able, and the trip proposed was so short, that he thought he felt within himself there was little rooin for hope. his own presence unnecessary, and yielded to the They still kept their way, though in total uncertainty wishes of the young people who insisted on having as to its direction. The minutes seemed like hours, charge of the vessel themselves. The party had been and they fancied that they must have wandered far detained for some time at their lodgings by the arrival away from their mark, and were getting more and of friends, and the afternoon was advanced ere they more out to sea.
At last, through the dense haze which had added
INFIDELITY AND SOCIALISM, darkness to the night, an appearance met the eye,
It is more in sorrow than in anger that I come forand immediately drew their attention. What is that? ward to say something about Infidelity and Socialism, cried the eldest son. What is that, which I see there? falsely so named. My table is half covered with the cried the father. After a moment's pause, the
infidel tracts and books of the present day. I have taken boatman, afraid of committing himself by too hasty a
up one after the other, but there is not one which I have declaration, said, “thank God, it is the Harbour not laid down, after reading a few pages or a few senLight. I see where we are. Sit still, and we shall be tences, not merely with disgust, but with weariness. soon ashore !" It is not easy to describe the feelings
The heaviness and vapid staleness of their statements are which this sudden appearance produced. Tears dropped
what has chiefly struck me. fast and silently down the parents' cheeks, while the
It is, I feel, a sad waste of time to wade through closely children gladly repeated the intelligence to each other.
printed columns of exploded errors set forth in the altered The boat stole forward quickly. The Pier-head, which
form of crude theories. I say crude theories, for however the fog had hidden from their sight, was nearer than
old and out of date and exploded they may be, crudeness
must be their character for ever. I think of a remark they believed; in a few minutes the lights of the town
which I find in Mr. Cecil's Remains, when I look upon burst upon them; they traced the line of houses on the Cliff, by the row of lamps in front, and at last the
the works of Mr. Owen, and others of his school, very windows of their home lighted up, and beaming
" Have you read my key to the Romans?” said Dr. T—,
of Norwich, to Mr. Newton. I have turned it over. with the promise of warmth and comfort, burst upon
You have turned it over, And is this the treatment a their view.
book must meet with which has cost me many years of Need I say that in the thankful recollections of that evening the Beacon was not forgotten? Had
hard study ? Must I be told at last that you have turned
it over, and then thrown it aside ? You ought to have it not been for that Beacon, said the sailor-lad,
read it carefully, and then weighed deliberately what we should have missed the harbour-mouth. Had
comes forward on so serious a subject." “ Hold !" said it not been for that Beacon, said the mother, we Mr. Newton, “when I read, I wish to read to a good should have been still floating on the dark ocean! purpose; and there are some books, which contradict on Had it not been for that Beacon, said the child- the very face of them, what appear to me to be first ren, we should never have got home. Had it principles. You surely will not say that I am bound to not been for that Beacon, said the father, we
read such books. If a man tells me that he has a very should have been all lost. Nor can we doubt elaborate argument to prove that two and two make five, that had it not been for the guidance which that
I have something else to do than to attend to this Beacon offered to those wanderers, they never
argument. If I find that the very first mouthful of meat would have reached the happy home they called
which I take from a fine-looking joint on my table is
tainted, I need not eat through it to be convinced that their own.
I am inclined to believe that wise men, and men of to this boating party, such, we trust, this publi- honest purpose, think more of facts than of theories; and cation will prove to many lost like them, and in I will, therefore, bring before them one of those facts ignorance of the way which leads to peace. It which are commonly met with in the daily walk of one will be a Beacon. It will shew them the course like myself; a minister of the gospel of life and peace to they ought to follow. It will throw across the the wretched and the dying. dark troubled surface of this world a clear and steady light, capable of arresting the wanderers
I had not been long settled at Hodnet when I was told on their course, and of pointing out the real
that a poor lad, with whom I had not yet become achome, the place where they may find rest to their
quainted, was in a hopeless state of health, and much in
need of instruction. I heard this one Saturday evening, souls.
and as I felt that he had no time to lose, I set off after In setting forward this work, we feel that we
evening service, on the following afternoon to visit him. have but one single object in view, the good of His mother's cottage was in one of the lanes near the hamour fellow-creatures; and we also feel that we let of Wollerton; and by the time I reached the door are justified in saying, that there is but one way the day was fast closing in. The evening, even for one in which that object can be generally and effec- in March, was unusally cold and dismal. But the gloom tually promoted. To every information which which had gathered upon every outward object around can tend to the relief of present evil, our pages
me, at the close of that day, was not darker nor heavier will be always open; but they will be chiefly than that which hung upon the spirits of the wretched dedicated to the promotion of that moral good boy whom I came to visit
. The door was opened by a which
middle-aged woman, who led me at once to the inner
of work by no other means than those which God
the respectful manner of one who was evidently wellhimself has ordained for the purpose, the know- bred and intelligent, I perceived plainly that he had no ledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, “who of God is
wish to see me, or, as he afterwards told me, any minister made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and of religion. He hung down his head, and sat without Sanctification, and Redemption.”
speaking, except to answer the questions I put to him;
they will attempt the accomplishment of this ebombsixteen years of age? Though he received me with
but his replies were given, I could see, ur willingly, and him, endeavouring to lead his thoughts, by simple and in very few words. His mother told me that he had earnest expressions of prayer, to the presence of One who been in low spirits since his last walk to Market Drayton, is as gracious as He is glorions, as condescending as He where the Doctor, whom he had consulted, after partly is mighty. As long as he had strength to kneel he knelt stripping him, had examined him, and told him ab. with me, and I believe he soon discovered the deep and ruptly that there was no human probability of his ever affectionate interest which his sinfulness and his misery getting better in this world. I tried in vain to draw him had excited in me. He was constantly in my thoughts into conversation, or to make him feel how fully I entered when away from him, and my thoughts were generally into his feelings, how tenderly I sympathised with him. turned to prayers, when they were occupied with him. He said nothing, but when I knelt down and prayed be- I found in this instance, as I have often, nay always side him, he covered his face with his hands, and the found, that the only thing to be done in such cases, after tears trickled out through his fingers. His face was still having humbly and diligently used the means He has apbent down when I took leave of him, and left the cottage. pointed, is to wait upon the Lord. I soon learnt that I
From that day, I did not fail to be a constant visitor in had to do, not only with one whose powers of mind were the little quiet chamber of T. R. I saw that his time in of no common order, but (what was of far higher importhis world was short; his weakness increased daily, and tance,) with one who was in deep earnest. He began to his countenance was bright with the hectic color of open to me his whole heart, and fearful indeed was the consumption. But sorry as I was to see him suffer, it spectacle disclosed, of errors in principle, and their nawas not the state of his bodily health which alarmed me. tural consequence,
sins in practice.
And now, Sir," When I discovered the utter wretchedness of his mind, he said mournfully to me on one occasion, after having the desolation of his inward state, I began to feel the spoken to me with a plainness that shewed how precious deepest anxiety about him. I read to him from the truth had become to him, and he turned away his face as word of life, and prayed with him, and endeavoured to he spoke, looking the picture of shame and misery, "now draw from him some answers to my earnest questions, that
know me as I am, I think you will never come some account of his own state; but for several days I near me again.”. I thought of Him whose minister I felt that I had gained no ground with him. He was am, and whose lovely example I was called to follow, quiet and attentive, but he said nothing, he did not even who never broke the “bruised reed,” nor quenched the raise his head to look me in the face. I have learnt from “smoking flax;" but though I let him see how deeply him that he was then without hope, either about this I felt for him, I did not for a moment attempt to palliate world or the world to come.
the enormity of his guilt. When I had won his confidence, I did not wonder at
We got on but slowly, for though he had often opened his deep dejection. Young as he was, he was an infidel,
the Bible, during his days of dark and wilful unbelief, and well read in the works of Tom Paine, and others of that
knew much of its contents, he knew nothing whatever of wretched school, and he had been a mocker and blas
the glorious scope of the word of God, and had never felt phemer of the Holy Bible, and the blessed name of Jesus
the warm effulgence which shines throughout its pages Christ. I could scarcely believe it possible that a youth
upon the heart of every simple-minded believer: and hardly turned sixteen, residing among uneducated cot- when it pleased God to answer our prayers, and to teach tagers in that sequestered part of the country should have
him to understand “ the truth as it is in Jesus,” he did met with such books—but the person is still alive who
not pass over from confusion and misery to ungrounded will have to answer to God for having put those books
hopes and raptures. If he was at length enabled to beinto the hands of that ingenuous and gentle boy, and I
lieve that his sins were forgiven, he could never forget how have no wish to expose him. The books had been read,
desperately he had offended. nay studied, and he had even gone so far, that in order to
From the first moment that I attended him to the strengthen himself in his arguments against the word of very last, I never heard himn make one excuse for himGod, he had frequently opened the Bible with the desire self, or attempt, in any way, to justify himself. After of finding something to attack or ridicule in its sacred
leaving him one day full of hope, and joy, and peace, pages. He had also been accustomed at times to take I have found him the next with his countenance fallen, one of his vile books, or some worthless novel in his and bathed in tears, complaining that he was too unhand, and put himself in the way of a simple-minded worthy to hope. and pious dissenter, who was in the habit of walking He did not merely hear me read, and then trouble from Drayton to Hodnet one day in the week, that he himself no more with the subject, but before I shut the might shew him the book, and dispute with him, and book he would ask me to mark the passage for him, and make a mock of the grief which he betrayed on hearing I frequently found him afterwards with the Bible upon the language of the wretched youth. I heard this, not his pillow intently occupied with it. Once I found him only from T. R., but also from the good man himself. with our Common Prayer Book, and he told me that he
No words of mine can describe the utter wretchedness of had been looking very attentively over the Service for mind of that poor dying boy. I did not attempt to re- the Sacrament of Baptism, and that of the Lord's Supmove it, feeling that such a work was beyond the power per. He had been in fact searching for himself, and of any human being. But all that I could do, I endea- judging for himself, and he deplored how much he had voured to do. I brought before him the real character of lost in never valuing those holy sacraments, and not living the word of God, by reading to him continually such por- as one for whom they had been graciously ordained by tions of the inspired volume as seemed calculated to con- their Divine Founder. vey to one like himself a clear apprehension of the mind I have tried in vain to recal the circumstances of my of God; and I was as constantly on my knees beside many interviews with T. R. In a short diary which i