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“ But, Charlie, my boy, the descent is so gradual that you may not realise your danger until the habit has a strong hold upon you, until, may be, your prospects for life are blighted,"
“I am never wilfully blind, uncle."
Slowly Uncle Robert crossed the room, and, turning the key in his private secretary, also unlocked an inner drawer, from which he took out a small box, and drawing a chair in front of the table, sat down by Charlie's side. With trembling fingers he loosed the cord that bound the box, saying: “These are sorrowful mementos; taking from it a daguerreotype, said, as he handed it to Charlie Selwyn, * It is old and faded, but tell me what characteristics you see in the face.”
“Intellect first,” was the reply; after a careful examination, "Sensitiveness and pride."
“ Yes. He was a dear college mate of mine, a young man of uncommon mental endowments. He acquired the habit, when lessons pressed too heavily, of taking a glass of champagne, 'just to liven him up,' as he said. He wrote several brilliant articles for one of our leading weekly papers, and found a glass of wine just exhilarating enough to enable him to express his ideas in glowing language. But the habit grew upon him, and before the end of our college life his customary preparation for evening study was a glass of wine, supplemented not unfrequently by another in the course of the evening: He left college to take a leading place on the paper for which he had regularly contributed. Anxious to discharge his duties to the best of his ability, he depended more and more upon stimulants, and before he was aware of the fact, the habit had become so fixed that he could not break loose from it. He lost his situation, for he could no longer be depended upon. Friends greeted him coldly and reproachfully, and in a fit of despair, following a deep indulgence, suicide ended his life. Look at that forehead, Charlie ; well might one envy the man's intellect.''
Replacing the picture in the box, Uncle Robert brought forth a soiled slip of paper, and unfolding it, said: “This was brought to me one evening some fifteen years ago by a shivering, tattered
lad. It reads thus"For the sake of boyhood days, Robert Weldon, will you
follow this child to the miserable hovel where lies a poor, besotted wretch ?
66. EDWARD KNEELAN.' “I followed the lad, and during the long hours of that ever-to-beremembered night I watched by the sick man's bed, and he related to me his painful history. In the wan, haggard face of the deathstricken man before me I never should have recognised the playmate and friend of my childhood and youth. He, Charlie, was like you thought his principle would check him if he should ever be in any danger of excess; he thought signing the pledge was confessing his inability to rule bimself; and he lacked the moral courage to render himself noticeable by refusing the social glass. He married quite
early in life, and the first winter was but a succession of gay festivities. At the wedding-feast wine flowed freely, and before the winter was ended, once, twice, and even thrice was he brought to his home in a helpless condition; and yet he would not yield his manhood by signing the pledge, though his fair young wife and other friends besought him to. In course of time a daughter was given to him, and for a time the helpless charge led him in the path of rectitude. But he did not like to look mean; so friends were treated, and alas! the appetite got the better of him. It is a long and sad tale, Charlie. Neglect, lack of food, and abuse caused the death of the child, and also that of the wife, but not until after she had brought into the world two sons, one of whom was the wretched messenger that summoned me.
At last death released Edward Kneelan, and I opened a correspondence with the friends who had cast him off, on behalf of the two orphan boys, whose only heritage from their father was a diseased appetite and the shame that attaches to a drunkard's child. The years have passed, but already the eldest is hastening with rapid steps towards his father's doom ; while the youngest, knowing total abstinence alone can save him, is making strenuous exertions to uproot the seeds implanted at birth.
“ This, Charlie," continued Uncle Robert, unfolding a slip of paper, from which he reverentially took a long loek of hair, " is gray enough to have been cut from the head of a woman of seventy; but she was only thirty. Ellen, my only sister's hair.” And tremulous fingers tenderly stroked the white lock. “She married at twenty a young man of fair prospects, a rising lawyer, of no bad habits. To be sure he occasionally indulged in a glass of wine, but so did nearly everyone else. Ellen's husband had no inherited tendencies that way, and there were no special causes that led to his ruin. Gradually he fell—so gradually that we noticed the dejected, worn look on Ellen's face months before we knew the cause. Friends begged her to leave him, but she resolutely refused, saying that the marriage-vow was
for better or for worse.' The worst bad come, but, God helping her, she should keep the wife's place by his side while life lasted. In ten years' time he died of delirium tremens, and in one short week the faithful wife who had borne so much yielded her life. One more, Charlie, and I am done."
This time Uncle Robert handed Charlie an exquisite painting on ivory, the face of a youog girl, rarely beautiful in feature, but with an expression of the saddest. A curl of ruddy-brown hair lay beside it.
“This is the portrait of Alice Fane, at whose feet I laid my boyish heart. She was some five years my junior. I finished my college career when but twenty-one, and then pleaded for an engagement; but to that her father-her mother was not living-refused to consent for at least two years. Seeing the propriety of his objections, and with all the hopefulness natural to youth, expecting that period soon to draw to a close, I spent the time travelling. When,
at the expiration of the two years, I returned to my home, it was to find a sad change. It was now Alice who refused my suit.
Mr. Fane had always been a moderate drinker, but some embarrassments in business, superinduced by an unfortunate speculation, occurred almost immediately after I left home, and he then began to take a little more to drown sorrow-as this reverse was followed by another -until the daily potations had become so deep
that he was recognised as a common drunkard ; that is a hard word, Charlie. Alice's little sister, a child of only eight years, was condemned to suffer, as the price of one of his drunken orgies, from a spinal complaint, the result of heavy blows he had inflicted.
" To these two Alice devoted her life, refusing my love. earnest request she had this picture painted. For five years longer the father lived, until he had drunk up every cent of his large property, and had not a small sum been left the children at their mother's death, they would have been penniless. Then, again, I sought Alice's side, urgiog her to become my wife ; but, with love looking from her eyes and trembling in her voice, she refused, saying she could not properly perform the double duties of nurse and wife. Both Bessie and myself would be neglected. Though her heart was linked to mine, her life could not be. Bessie is still a patient sufferer, and Alice an unwearied nurse. If unseen coronets ever gleam on woman's brow, Alice's must be resplendent.".
Uncle Robert's husky voice failed, and he bowed his head on his hands, while great tear-drops trickled through his interlaced fingers.
Charlie Selwyn's voice broke the silence, saying, “Uncle Robert, give me the pledge. I will sign, and with God's help, keep it."
CORRECTION.-In the Band of Hope Paper last month the beginning of the fifth line should read~" We are met to explain.”
THE EDITOR'S TABLE. A SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHER wishes to be informed as to the exact time when Jesus Christ was born, as he has seen it stated in print that we eommemorate it at a wrong date. Our unknown friend says many besides bimself wish to know the correct date. We are afraid their curiosity cannot be gratified. The evidence we possess regarding the date of Christ's birth is only traditional, and is likewise conflicting and confused. It would take up too much of our space, and not be interesting to most of our readers, to give this evidence in detail. Suffice it to say that, while from the end of the fourth century at least the 25th of December has been uniformly observed as the anniversary of the Nativity by all the nations of Christendom, the generally received view now is, that it does not correspond with the actual date of the nativity of our Saviour. One objection in particular has been made, that the incident recorded in Scripture of shepherds keeping watch by night on the plains of Bethlehem could not have taken place in the month of December, a period generally of great inclemency in the region of Judæa.
To fix the exact date of Christ's birth we believe to be impracticable, but, we may also add, it is a matter of no importance whatever.
“ J. L.” wishes us to explain the meaning of the word tradition in Matthew xv., 2. Was it a law or only a custom which required the Jews to wash their hands before eating ? There was no written precept to the effect that bread should be eaten, or, in other words, a meal be taken only with washed hands. No doubt the usage began for purposes of cleanliness when the food eaten had to be conveyed to the mouth by the fingers, and not, as with us, by fork or spoon. In course of time a factitious sanctity was given to the practice by the teaching or sanction of the elders. Their opinions were handed down from generation to generation by oral report, or, as we might say, by word of mouth ; for that is the meaning of tradition—that which is transmitted to posterity by word of mouth, and not in writing. God's Word is a written Word ; it is Scripture. By, a natural growth of exaggeration, tradition was allowed among the Jews to have higher authority than Scripture. We are told that it was actually a saying with some of them that “the words of the elders are weightier than the words of the prophets.",
Christ, it would seem, taught His disciples that there was no great religious merit in washing the hands before eating, and in this He opposed the traditions of the elders. Without doubt He loved cleanliness even more than the Scribes and Pharisees, but they had magnitied it into a spiritual charm, and so made it a spiritual snare. Hence the Rabbis came to teach : 6 Whosoever hath his abode in the land of Israel, and eateth his common food with washed hands, and recites his phylacteries morning and evening, he may rest assured that he shall obtain eternal life.”
We have received the following, to which we call the attention of teachers and the elder scholars in our Sunday schools :
4, Attercliffe, Sheffield, September 10th, 1877. DEAR SIR, —
As the season of the year is approaching when the nights are long and cricketing and other outdoor games must be relinquished, our young men will naturally turn to something else to pass away, their leisure time. How much better it would be if instead of loitering at the street corners or sitting in doors engaged in frivolous conversation they would seek self-improvement. Towards this end I think that it is very desirable that in connection with all our Sunday schools there should be formed Mutual Improvement Classes, to be held on one or more of the week nights. These classes should be under the presidency of the minister if possible. We have had an
excellent one in connection with our school here at Attercliffe for the last three years, and are about making arrangements for the ensuing session. The class, I can assure you, has been productive of much good. Such classes cannot fail to be, if conducted properly and are regularly attended. The manner of conducting ours, I may say for the information of those who are desirous of commencing a similar one, has been somewhat as follows:-The minister is chosen as president, a programme is drawn up and printed, consisting of “Essays" upon various subjects, interspersed with evenings for Impromptu Speeches " and “ Extemporaneous Composition,” &c. Each essayist is allowed not more than twenty minutes for the reading of his paper. While he is so doing, the members of the class, each provided with pencil and paper, take notes upon it, and after the reading they are called upon by the chairman to criticise or comment upon the paper, not forgetting to mention any grammatical errors or defects in reading or composition. After which the essayist is allowed to answer any objection that has been raised. The chairman then comments upon the paper, and concludes the meeting with prayer. Thus much thought is aroused, much latent power developed, and great good is received. The classes of course may be conducted in various ways; the above is one. Cannot something be done, say an appeal be made through the JUVENILE INSTRUCTOR, for the formation of such classes ? Pardon me if I am bold in thus writing to you, but I think something might be done in this direction.--Yours respectfully, Rev. J. Hudston.
A MEMBER OF THE CLASS.
for Repetition. SUBJECT.
FOURTH QUARTER. 4 The People's Sin ..... Exod. xxii. 1-20.../ 1 Cor. x. 14. 11 | Moses' Intercession Exod. xxxiii. 1-3, 12—23] Dan. ix, 9. 18 The People's Offerings... Exod. xxxv. 20 to xxxvi. 7] 2 Cor. ix. 7. 25 The Tabernacle set up Exod. xl. 17–38.. John iv. 24.
for Repetition. FOURTH QUARTER. 4 Paul before Felix
Acts xxiv. 10-27 ver. 25. 11 Paul before Agrippa Acts xxv.23 to xxvi. 18]Matt. x. 19. 18 Almost persuaded
Acts xxvi. 19-32 ver. 28, 25 Paul in the Storm
Actsj xxvii. 1-26 Psa. lvi. 3.