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A COBRA CHARMER.
his mite. He thinks there are too many appeals, but he gives, if not enough to save his reputation, pretty near it; at all events he aims to.
The minimum Christian is not clear on a number of points. The opera and dancing, the theatre and card-playing, and large fashionable parties, give him much trouble. He cannot see the harm in this or that or the other popular amusement. There is nothing in the Bible against it. He does not see but that a man may be a Christian and dance, or go to the opera. He knows several excellent persons who do. Why should not he? He stands so close to the dividing line between the people of God and the world that it is hard to say on which side of it he is actually to be found.
Ah, my brother, are you making this attempt? Beware, lest you find at last that in trying to get into heaven with a little religion, you miss it altogether; lest, without gaining the whole world, you lose your own soul.
A COBRA CHARMER. One morning we were all out, actively employed in the garden, when a most extraordinary scene took place. The "missing link,” who had just turned a corner with a basket upon his head, suddenly bounded forwards with a loud cry, and seizing some object, threw it on the wide gravel path. It was the cobra at last -the one we had lost in the former chase. He rushed to the spot where the creature had fallen, and squatted down before it. With expanded hood, the hissing snake reared itself half up, and wriggling its body, darted its head about in all directions ; but the man was immovable. He fixed his glaring eyes upon the reptile, and blew softly at it; but it dared not strike, though its hooded face was on a level with that of the man-its cold, oblique eye looking into his,--not the length of a foot between them. It was a magnificent spectacle. Seen against the light, the thick membrane of which the creature's hood was composed shone ruddy and brown. On each side it was marked by black, wafer-like spots, called the spectacles ; its throat was a livid blue, and its glistening coils were the colour of the earth. The servants came flocking round; while some European soldiers and native police regarded the scene from over the hedge. It was curious to mark the different expressions of the grave, attentive faces. Save for the angry hiss of the serpent, the scene passed in perfect silence. The man again and again breathed upon the reptile, seized it, stroked it, permitted its long length to curl round his limbs, and threw it
away for the struggle to recommence. G- became alarmed, and I was afraid that the man would be bitten, and then nothing could save him. “If you stop me,” whispered the snake-charmer, “I will leave your service in an hour.” The man, who was pale, almost rigid with suppressed excitement, called for a chatty-pot, a vessel with bulging sides and narrow neck. He continued to pat the creature, puffing at it till the enraged but subjugated cobra wriggled itself into the pot. G-now insisted on having the creature destroyed. “No, sir," said the man, “I am going to draw its poisonous fangs and keep it for a tame snake.” He got a sharp curved knife and some rag, and uncovering the pot, he blew into it, and on the appearance of the cobra's head seized it shortly by the neck, obliging it to extend its jaws, and rammed a piece of the rag into its mouth and down into the throat. Then he drew the upper fangs, placed them carelessly on a stone, and pronounced the creature to be harmless. “Now,” he said, “I shall sell it; I shall get four rupees for it from a conjuror.”—My Year in an Indian Fort, by Mrs. Guthrie.
WHITTIER. The tradition that the poet is a master, a leader, in human society has been somewhat lost in modern and highly civilised communities, where he has been often told, as Jean Paul said to music, “ Away! thou speakest to me of that which never was nor shall be.” But his power is impregnable and his influence sure. The man whose song reaches and touches the heart of youth inevitably affects it. If, as is sometimes said, the poet is the child of his time, so also is he its teacher, and, in a certain sense, its leader. The influence of Byron upon his generation is an interesting study; that of Wordsworth and Tennyson might also be traced. Our own poets, until the choir now living arose, were in great part echoes. But we should be surprised could we know the direct and positive influence that some of these have had upon
the character and career of those who are more evidently public leaders. We are not now speaking of general but of special influence. The fact that Whittier, Longfellow, and Lowell took part, as poets, in the anti-slavery protest was a distinct and efficient element of the movement, and Lowell's “Biglow Papers” were a powerful ally of good political influences. Those sharp and canny strokes of satiric humour were quite as effective as any speeches.
But the most prolonged and noted influence of this kind, the leadership of the poet in affairs, is undoubtedly that of Whittier in the anti-slavery crusade. It was very quiet and unobserved,
but it was very radical. The heart that resisted argument and statistics was melted in the fervour of his appeal. It was absolutely impersonal and unselfish, and his voice was that of the pure conscience. The simplicity and directness of his Quaker training gave also a singular charm to his verse, and his personal isolation from politics and current affairs deepened its moral powers. Those days happily are gone. The poet has lived to see the dawning of the golden age that he foresaw, and he has not sought to prolong bitterness of feeling as the condition of his own opportunity for distinction. It is, indeed, within the last fifteen years that his fame has been most truly national, and it is pleasant and significant to see that on his seventieth birthday the tributes of honour and regard are not limited by sectional lines.
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE,
LIFE hath its barren years,
Looks only on our tears.
Life hath its faithless days;
Hushed harp instead of praise.
Life hath its valleys too,
All quenched in pitying dow.
Life hath its harvest moons,
Full hearts for harvest tunes.
Life hath its hopes fulfilled;
Grand speech by joy distilled.
Life hath its Tabor heights;
Hail! mount of all delight.
THE PORCUPINE AND ITS QUILLS. We have none of these curious creatures in England, but we have a few hedgehogs, which are not unlike them, though much smaller. They are found mostly in Africa and other hot countries; are about two feet long, and sixteen inches high; their backs' are covered with long black and white hollow spines or spikes, almost like goose quills, but very sharp; the lower part of the body is covered with short prickles; the head is like that of a hare, and the feet are short; they make deep holes at the foot of a rock, where they sleep during the winter months, coming out at night in summer to seek for food, such as roots and the bark of trees.
You know that a hedgehog will roll itself up into a prickly ball, so that a dog cannot get at it to bite. The Porcupine does something like that; for if a dog or jackal or hyena should come near to lay hold of it, the cunning creature will not run away or meet its enemy face to face, but setting up its strong quills, which mostly lie flat over its body, it will run back and push their sharp points into the nose and eyes of the foe, and make him glad to scamper off and let him alone. Even a lion, it is said, will not attack
ANECDOTES AND SELECTIONS.
him. As for serpents he will make short work with them, for doubling himself up like a ball, he will roll over them, stabbing them all over until he kills them. And so he teaches them to let him alone; and they ought, for he never meddles with them; all he wants is to eat his own meat in peace and quietness.
But he has one greater enemy than wild beasts or serpents, whom he cannot escape except by getting so deep down among narrow holes in the rocks where he cannot be got at. This enemy is man. For there are men who are fond of what they call the sport of hunting the porcupine. The way these men do is this-First they set dogs to smell at the holes at the foot of the rock, and when they begin to bark at one of these holes, the men know that is the right place. They then set on the dogs to go down and fetch out their prey if they can; but this they seldom do, the holes in the rock being too narrow to admit them-and for this reason they cannot dig them out. So they always take with them a very little boy, a cunning fellow, whom they cover with the skin of some animal, and send him as far as he can go down the hole; and when he gets to the narrow place in the rock he pushes down into it a long spear with teeth like a saw, which sticking fast in the body of the porcupine he drags him out, and makes his own way out of the hole again, heels first, with his prize at the end of his spear.
Poor creatures ! I wish these cruel men would let them alone. They do no harm that we know of, and why should they not live where the Great Creator has placed them? There cannot be any excuse for the cruel sport of hunting them; for they are not fit to eat. Far wiser and better would it be to let such curious and harmless creatures teach us new lessons of the wisdom and goodness of Him who created them and provides for them as well as ourselves, and whose tender mercies are over all His works.
Anecdotes and Selections.
SELF-DENIAL. When Agassiz visited Oken, the great German naturalist, the latter sbowed to the young student his laboratory, bis cabinet, his magnificent library, and all his varied and costly apparatus. At length the dinner hour approached. Oken said to Agassiz, “Sir, to gather and maintain what you have seen uses up my income. To accomplish this I have to economise in my style of living, Three times in the week we have meat on the table. On the other days we dine on potatoes and salt. I regret that your visit has fallen on a potato day.” And so the naturalist, with the students of Oken, dined on potatoes and salt. In the charming biography of Mr. Ticknor one meets many similar instances in his interconree with the scholars of Germany. He found men of world-wide fame living with the utmost frugality, that they might devote time and meads to scientific research. This is self-devial; it is denying the lower self for the sake of a higher. And can any one fail to honour and reverence it? And what is Christian self-denial? It is denying a lower self for the sake of the bighest impulse a man is capable of, love to man, love to Christ. Do not the times call us to this ? On every hand there is suffering ; and yet there is ample means. If the people of God were willing to