« ZurückWeiter »
craving for sympathy from the ruling power is satisfied ; there is a hold for veneration; there is room for hope: there is, above all, the stimulus and support of an end perceived or anticipated; a purpose which steeps in sanctity all human experience. Yet even where this blessing is the most fully felt and recognised, the spirit cannot but be at times overwhelmed by the vast regularity of aggregate existence--thrown back upon its faith for support, when it reflects how all things go on as they did before it became conscious of existence, and how all would go on as now, if it were to die to-day. On it rolls—not only the great globe itself, but the life which stirs and hums on its surface, enveloping it like an atmosphere;-on it rolls; and the vastest tumult that may take place among its inhabitants can no more make itself seen and heard above the general stir and hum of life, than Chimborazo or the loftiest Himalaya can lift its peak into space above the atmosphere. On, on it rolls; and the strong arm of the united race could not turn from its course one planetary mote of the myriads that swim in space; no shriek of passion, nor shrill song of joy, sent up from a group of nations or a continent, could attain the ear of the eternal silence, as she sits throned among the stars. Death is less dreary than life in this view—a view which at times, perhaps, presents itself to every mind, but which speedily vanishes before the faith of those who, with the heart, believe that they are not the accidents of fate, but the children of a Father. In the house of every wise parent may then be seen an epitome of life-a sight whose consolation is needed at times, perhaps, by all. Which of the little children of a virtuous household can conceive of his entering into his parent's pursuits, or interfering with them? How sacred are the study and the office, the apparatus of a knowledge and a power which he can only venerate! Which of these little ones dreams of disturbing the course of his parent's thought or achievement ? Which of them conceives of the daily routine of the household—its going forth and coming in, its rising and its rest-having been different before his birth, or that it would be altered by his absence. It is even a matter of surprise to him when it now and then occurs to him that there is any thing set apart for him—that he has clothes and couch, and that his mother thinks and cares for him. If he lags behind in a walk, or finds himself alone among the trees, he does not dream of being missed; but home rises up before him as he has always seen it—his father thoughtful, his mother occupied, and the rest gay, with the one difference of his not being there. This he believes, and has no other trust than in his shriek of terror, for being ever remembered more. Yet, all the while, from day to day, from year to year, without one moment's intermission, is the providence of his parent around him, brooding over the workings of his infant spirit, chastening its passions, nourishing its affections--now troubling it with salutary pain, now animating it with even more wholesome delight. All the while is the order of household affairs regulated for the comfort and profit of these lowly little ones, though they regard it reverently, because they cannot comprehend it. They may not know of all this—how their guardian bends over their pillow nightly, and lets no word of their careless talk drop unheeded, and records every sob of infant grief, hails every brightening gleam of reason and every chirp of childish glee—they may not know this, because they could not understand it aright, and each little heart would be inflated with pride, cach little mind would lose the grace and purity of its unconsciousness; but the guardianship is not the less real, constant, and tender, for its being unrecognised by its objects. As the spirit expands, and perceives that it is one of an innumerable family, it would be in danger of sinking into the despair of loneliness if it were not capable of
while the very circumstance of multitude obviates the danger of undue elation. But, though it is good to be lowly, it behoves every one to be sensible of the guardianship of which so many evidences are around all who breathe. While the world and lifo roll on and on, the feeble reason of the child of Providence may be at times overpowered by the vastness of the system amidst which he lives ; but his faith will smile upon his fear, rebuke him for averting his eycs, and inspire him with the thought, “Nothing can crush me, for I am made for eternity. I will do, suffer, and enjoy, as my Father wills; and let the world and life roll on !"
Such is the faith which supports, which alone can support, the many who, having been whirled in the eddying stream of social affairs, are withdrawn by one cause or another, to abide, in some still little creek, the passage of the mighty tide. The broken-down statesman, who knows himself to be spoken of as politically dead, and sees his successors at work, building on his foundations, without more than a passing thought on him who had laboured before them, has need of this faith. The aged, who find affairs proceeding at the will of the young and hardy, whatever the grayhaired may think and say, have need of this faith. So have the sick, when they find none but themselves disposed to look on life in the light which comes from beyond the grave. So have the persecuted, when, with or without cause, they see themselves pointed at in the street; and the despised, who find themselves neglected whichever way they turn. So have the prosperous, during those moments which must occur to all, when sympathy fails, and means to much desired ends are wanting, or when satiety makes the spirit roam abroad in search of something better than it has found. This universal, eternal, filial relation is the only universal and eternal refuge. It is the solace of royalty weeping in the inner chambers of its palaces, and of poverty drooping beside its cold hcarth. It is the glad tidings preached to the poor, and in which all must be poor in spirit to have part. If they be poor in spirit, it matters little what is their external state, or whether the world, which rolls on beside or over them, be the world of a solar system, or of a conquering empire, or of a small-souled village. 200.-YOUTHFUL FRIENDSHIP.
John Wilson. SUBLIME solitudes of our boyhood! where each stone in the desert was sublime, unassociated though it was with dreams of memory, in its own simple native power over the human heart! Each sudden breath of wind passed by us like the voice of a spirit. There were strange meanings in the clouds—often so like human forms and faces threatening us off, or beckoning us on, with long black arms, back into the long withdrawing wilderness of heaven. We wished then, with quaking bosoms, that we had not been all alone in the desert—that there had been another heart, whose beatings might have kept time with our own, that we might have gathered courage in the silent and sullen gloom from the light in a brother's eye the smile on a brother's countenance. And often had we such a friend in these our far-off wanderings, over moors and mountains, by the edge of lochs and through the umbrage of the old pine-woods. A friend from whom “we had received his heart and given him back our own,”—such a friendship as the most fortunate and the most happy-and at that time we were both—are sometimes permitted by Providence, with all the passionate devotion of young and untamed imagination, to enjoy, during a bright dreamy world of which that friendship is as the polar star. Emilius Godfrey ! for ever holy be the name ! a boy when we were but a child—when we were but a youth, a man. We felt stronger in the shadow of his arm-happier, bolder, better in the light of his countenance. He was the protector-the guardian of our moral being. In our pastimes we bounded with wilder glee--at our studies we sat with intenser carnestness, by his side. He it was that taught us how to feel all
those glorious sunsets, and imbued our young spirit with the love and worship of nature. He it was that taught us to feel that our evening prayer was no idle ceremony to be hastily gone through-that we might lay down our head on the pillow, then soon smoothed in sleep-but a command of God, which a response from nature summoned the humble heart to obey. He it was who for ever had at command, wit for the sportive, wisdom for the serious hour. Fun and frolic flowed in the merry music of his lips—they lightened from the gay glancing of his eyes and then, all at once, when the one changed its measures, and the other gathered, as it were, a mist or a cloud, an answering sympathy chained our own tongue, and darkened our own countenance, in intercommunion of spirit felt to be, indeed, divine! It seemed as if we knew but the words of language--that he was a scholar who saw into their very essence. The books we read together were, every page, and every sentence of every page, all covered over with light. Where his eye fell not as wo read, all was dim or dark, unintelligible, or with imperfect meanings. Whether we perused with him a volume writ by a nature like our own, or the volume of the earth and the sky, or the volume revealed from Heaven, next day we always knew and felt that something had been added to our being. Thus imperceptibly we grew up in our intellectual stature, breathing a purer moral and religious air ; with all our finer affections towards other human beings, all our kindred nnd our kind, touched with a dearer domestic tenderness, or with a sweet benevolence that seemed to our ardent fancy to embrace the dwellers in the uttermost regions of the earth. No secret of pleasure or pain-of joy or grief-of fear or hope—had our heart to withhold or conceal from Emilius Godfrey. He saw it as it beat within our bosom, with all its imperfections—may we venture to say, with all its virtues. A repented folly—a confessed fault-a sin for which we were truly contrite—a vice flung from us with loathing and with shame-in such moods as these, happier were we to see his serious and his solemn smile than when in mirth and merriment we sat by his side, in the social hour, on a knoll in the open sunshine. And the whole school were in ecstasies to hear tales and stories from his genius ; even like a flock of birds, chirping in their joy, all newly alighted in a vernal land. In spite of that difference in our age—or oh! say rather because that very difference did touch the one heart with tenderness, and the other with reverence ! how often did we two wander, like elder and younger brother, in the 'sunlight and the moonlight solitudes ! Woods into whose inmost recesses we should have quaked alone to penetrate, in his company were glad as gardens, through their most awful umbrage ; and there was beauty in the shadows of the old oaks. Cataracts—in whose lonesome thunder, as it pealed into those pitchy pools, we durst not, by ourselves, have faced the spray-in his presence, dinned with a merry music in the desert, and cheerful was the thin mist they cast sparkling up into the air. Too severe for our upcompanied spirit, then easily overcome with awe, was the solitude of those remote inland lochs. But as we walked with him along the winding shores, how passing sweet the calm of both blue depths—how magnificent the white-crested waves, tumbling beneath the black thunder cloud ! More beautiful, because our eyes gazed on it along with his, at the beginning or the ending of some sudden storm, the Apparition of the Rainbow. Grander jp its wildness, that seemed to sweep at once all the swinging and stooping woods to our ear, because his too listened, the concerto by winds and waves played at midnight when not ove star was in the sky. With him we first followed the Falcon in her flight-he showed us on the Echo-cliff the Eagle's eyry. To the thicket he led us, where lay couched the lovely-spotted Doe, or showed us the mild-eyed creature browsing on the glade with her two fawns at her side. But for him we should not then have seen the antlers of the red-deer, for the forest was indeed a most savage place, and haunted—such was the superstition at which those who scorned it trembled-haunted by the ghost of a huntsman whom a jealous rival had murdered as he stooped, after the chase, at a little mountain well that ever since oozed out blood. What converse passed between us two in all those still shadowy solitudes! Into what depths of human nature did he teach our wondering eyes to look down! Oh! what was to become of us, we sometimes thought in sadness that all at once made our spirits sink-like a lark falling suddenly to earth, struck by the fear of some unwonted shadow from above what was to become of us when the mandate should arrive for him to leave the Manse for ever, and sail away in a ship to India never more to return! Ever as that dreaded day drew nearer, more frequent was the haze in our eyes; and in our blindness we knew not that such tears ought to have been far more rueful still, for that he then lay under orders for a longer and more lamentable voyage—a voyage over a narrow strait to the eternal shore. All—all at once he drooped: on one fatal morning the dread decay began —with no forewarning, the springs on which his being had so lightly, so proudly, so grandly moved-gave way. Between one sabbath and another his bright eyes darkened-and while all the people were assembled at the sacrament, the soul of Emilius Godfrey soared up to heaven. It was indeed a dreadful death ; serene and sainted though it were—and not a hall--not a house—not a hut-not a shieling within all the circle of those wide mountains, that did not on that night mourn as if it had lost a son. All the vast parish attended his funeral-Lowlanders and Highlanders, in their own garb of grief. And have time and tempest now blackened the white marble of that monument is that inscription now hard to be read the name of Emilius Godfrey in green obliteration--nor haply one surviving who ever saw the light of the countenance of him there interred ! Forgotten as if he had never been! for few were that glorious orphau's kindred and they lived in a foreign land—forgotten but by one heart; faithful through all the chances and changes of this restless world! And therein enshrined, amongst all its holiest remembrances, shall be the image of Emilius Godfrey, till it too, like his, shall be but dust and ashes !
Oh! blame not boys for so soon forgetting one another in absence or in death. Yet forgetting is not just the very word; call it rather a reconcilement to doom and destiny-in thus obeying a benign law of nature that soon streams sunshine over the shadows of the grave. Not otherwise could all the ongoings of this world be continued. The nascent spirit outgrows much in which it once found all delight; and thoughts delightful still, thoughts of the faces and the voices of the dead, perish not, lying sometimes in slumber-sometimes in sleep. It belongs not to the blessed season and genius of youth to hug to its heart useless and unavailing griefs. Images of the well-beloved, when they themselves are in the mould, come and go, no unfrequent visitants, through the meditative hush of solitude. But our main business--our prime joys and our prime sorrows-ought to bem must be with the living. Duty demands it; and love, who would pine to death over the bones of the dead, soon fastens upon other objects with eyes and voices to smile and whisper an answer to all his vows. So was it with us. Ere the midsummer sun had withered the flowers that spring had sprinkled over our Godfrey's grave, youth vindicated its own right to happiness; and we felt that we did wrong to visit, too often, that corner of the kirkyard. No fears had we of any too oblivious tendencies ; in our dreams we saw him—most often all alive as ever-sometimes a phantom away from that grave! If the morning light was frequently hard to be endured, bursting suddenly upon us along with the feeling that he was dead, it more frequently cheered and gladdened us with resignation, and sent us forth a fit playmate to the dawn that rang with all sounds of joy. Again we found ourselves angling down the river, or along the loch-once more following the flight of the Falcon along the woods---eyeing the Eagle on the Echo-cliff. Days passed by, without so much as one thought of Emilius Godfrey-pursuing our pastime with all our passion, reading our books intently—just as if he had never been ! But often and often, too, we thought we saw his figure coming down the hil! straight towards ushis very figure—we could not be deceived—but the love-raised ghost disappeared on a sudden—the grief-worn spectre melted into the mist. The strength that formerly had come from his counsels, now began to grow up of itself within our own unassisted being. The world of nature became more our own, moulded and modified by all our own feelings and fancies ; and with a bolder and more original eye we saw the smoke from the sprinkled cottages, and saw the faces of the mountaineers on their way to their work, or coming and going to the house of God.
DOXNE. [COWLEY was called by Dr. Johnson the last and the best of the metaphysical poets. He enumerates Donne amongst them, and quotes some of his “quaint conceits." There is no writer in our language who is such a master of the subtleties of thought as he whose “ Holy Sonnets" we now extract. But at the same time there are few authors who excel him in strength and fervour. The life of John Donne has been written by Izaak Walton. He entered the church late in life, and died Dean of Saint Paul's, in his fifty fourth year, being born in 1578.]
1.- Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;
II.— As due, by many titles, I resign
Myself to thee, O God. First I was made