Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXIX.
Part 2 out of 5
To break the mould, the master may,
If skilled the hand and ripe the hour;
But woe, when on its fiery way
The metal seeks itself to pour.
Frantic and blind, with thunder-knell,
Exploding from its shattered home,
And glaring forth, as from a hell,
Behold the red Destruction come!
When rages strength that has no reason,
_There_ breaks the mould before the season;
When numbers burst what bound before,
Woe to the State that thrives no more!
Yea, woe, when in the City's heart,
The latent spark to flame is blown;
And Millions from their silence start,
To claim, without a guide, their own!
Discordant howls the warning Bell,
Proclaiming discord wide and far,
And, born but things of peace to tell,
Becomes the ghastliest voice of war:
"Freedom! Equality!"--to blood,
Rush the roused people at the sound!
Through street, hall, palace, roars the flood,
And banded murder closes round!
The hyaena-shapes, that women were!
Jest with the horrors they survey;
They hound--they rend--they mangle there--
As panthers with their prey!
Nought rests to hallow--burst the ties
Of life's sublime and reverent awe;
Before the Vice the Virtue flies,
And Universal Crime is Law!
Man fears the lion's kingly tread;
Man fears the tiger's fangs of terror;
And still the dreadliest of the dread,
Is Man himself in error!
No torch, though lit from Heaven, illumes
The Blind!--Why place it in his hand?
It lights not him--it but consumes
The City and the Land!
* * * * *
Rejoice and laud the prospering skies!
The kernel bursts its husk--behold
From the dull clay the metal rise,
Clear shining, as a star of gold!
Neck and lip, but as one beam,
It laughs like a sun-beam.
And even the scutcheon, clear graven, shall tell
That the art of a master has fashion'd the Bell!
Come in--come in
My merry men--we'll form a ring
The new-born labour christening;
And "CONCORD" we will name her!--
To union may her heart-felt call
In brother-love attune us all!
May she the destined glory win
For which the master sought to frame her--
Aloft--(all earth's existence under,)
In blue-pavilion'd heaven afar
To dwell--the Neighbour of the Thunder,
The Borderer of the Star!
Be hers above a voice to raise
Like those bright hosts in yonder sphere,
Who, while they move, their Maker praise,
And lead around the wreathed year!
To solemn and eternal things
We dedicate her lips sublime!--
To fan--as hourly on she swings
The silent plumes of Time!--
No pulse--no heart--no feeling hers!
She lends the warning voice to Fate;
And still companions, while she stirs,
The changes of the Human State!
So may she teach us, as her tone
But now so mighty, melts away--
That earth no life which earth has known
From the Last Silence can delay!
Slowly now the cords upheave her!
From her earth-grave soars the Bell;
Mid the airs of Heaven we leave her
In the Music-Realm to dwell!
She has risen--she sways.
Fair Bell to our city bode joy and increase,
And oh, may thy first sound be hallow'd to--PEACE!
 The translation adheres to the original, in forsaking the
rhyme in these lines and some others.
 Written in the time of French war.
* * * * *
What the God taught me--what, through life, my friend
And aid hath been,
With pious hand, and grateful, I suspend
The temple walls within.
* * * * *
THE GOOD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.
Foster the Good, and thou shalt tend the Flower
Already sown on earth;--
Foster the Beautiful, and every hour
Thou call'st new flowers to birth!
* * * * *
Give me that which thou know'st--I'll receive and attend;--
But thou giv'st me _thyself_--pri'thee spare me, my friend.
* * * * *
That which hath been can INTELLECT declare,
What Nature built--it imitates or gilds--
And REASON builds o'er Nature--but in air--
_Genius_ alone in Nature--Nature builds.
* * * * *
The calm correctness where no fault we see
Attests Art's loftiest--or its least degree;
Alike the smoothness of the surface shows
The Pool's dull stagnor--the great Sea's repose!
* * * * *
Good out of good--_that_ art is known to all--
But Genius from the bad the good can call--
Thou, mimic, not from leading strings escaped,
Work'st but the matter that's already shaped!
The already shaped a nobler hand awaits--
All matter asks a spirit that creates.
* * * * *
The herd of Scribes by what they tell us
Show all in which their wits excel us;
But the true Master we behold
In what his art leaves--just untold!
* * * * *
TO THE MYSTIC.
That is the real mystery which around
All life, is found;--
Which still before all eyes for aye has been,
Nor eye hath seen!
* * * * *
All measureless, all infinite in awe,
Heaven to great souls is given--
And yet the sprite of littleness can draw
Down to its inch--the Heaven!
* * * * *
THE DIVISION OF RANKS.
Yes, there's a patent of nobility
Above the meanness of our common state;
With what they _do_ the vulgar natures buy
Its titles--and with what they _are_, the great!
* * * * *
When draw the Prosperous near me, I forget
The gods of heaven; but where
Sorrow and suffering in my sight are set,
The gods, I feel, are there!
* * * * *
THE CHIEF END OF MAN.
What the chief end of Man?--Behold yon tree,
And let it teach thee, Friend!
_Will_ what that will-less yearns for;--and for thee
Is compass'd Man's chief end!
* * * * *
To gain his home all oceans he explored--
Here Scylla frown'd--and there Charybdis roar'd;
Horror on sea--and horror on the land--
In hell's dark boat he sought the spectre land,
Till borne--a slumberer--to his native spot
He woke--and sorrowing, knew his country not!
* * * * *
JOVE TO HERCULES.
'Twas not my nectar made thy strength divine,
But 'twas thy strength which made my nectar thine!
* * * * *
See, full of hope, thou trustest to the earth
The golden seed, and waitest till the spring
Summons the buried to a happier birth;
But in Time's furrow duly scattering,
Think'st thou, how deeds by wisdom sown may be,
Silently ripen'd for Eternity?
* * * * *
Where sails the ship?--It leads the Tyrian forth
For the rich amber of the liberal North.
Be kind ye seas--winds lend your gentlest wing,
May in each creek, sweet wells restoring spring!--
To you, ye gods, belong the Merchant!--o'er
The waves, his sails the wide world's goods explore;
And, all the while, wherever waft the gales,
The wide world's good sails with him as he sails!
* * * * *
Steer on, bold Sailor--Wit may mock thy soul that sees the land,
And hopeless at the helm may drop the weak and weary hand,
YET EVER--EVER TO THE WEST, for there the coast must lie,
And dim it dawns and glimmering dawns before thy reason's eye;
Yea, trust the guiding God--and go along the floating grave,
Though hid till now--yet now, behold the New World o'er the wave!
With Genius Nature ever stands in solemn union still,
And ever what the One foretels the Other shall fulfil.
* * * * *
THE ANTIQUE TO THE NORTHERN WANDERER.
And o'er the river hast thou past, and o'er the mighty sea,
And o'er the Alps, the dizzy bridge hath borne thy steps to me;
To look all near upon the bloom my deathless beauty knows,
And, face to face, to front the pomp whose fame through ages goes--
Gaze on, and touch my relics now! At last thou standest here,
But art thou nearer now to me--or I to thee more near?
* * * * *
THE ANTIQUE AT PARIS.
What the Grecian arts created,
May the victor Gaul, elated,
Bear with banners to his strand.
In museums many a row,
May the conquering showman show
To his startled Fatherland!
Mute to him, they crowd the halls,
Ever on their pedestals
Lifeless stand they!--He alone
Who alone, the Muses seeing,
Clasps--can warm them into being;
The Muses to the Vandal--stone!
 To the shore of the Seine.
* * * * *
THE POETRY OF LIFE.
"Who would himself with shadows entertain,
Or gild his life with lights that shine in vain,
Or nurse false hopes that do but cheat the true?
Though with my dream my heaven should be resign'd--
Though the free-pinion'd soul that now can dwell
In the large empire of the Possible,
This work-day life with iron chains may bind,
Yet thus the mastery o'er ourselves we find,
And solemn duty to our acts decreed,
Meets us thus tutor'd in the hour of need,
With a more sober and submissive mind!
How front Necessity--yet bid thy youth
Shun the mild rule of life's calm sovereign, Truth."
So speak'st thou, friend, how stronger far than I;
As from Experience--that sure port serene--
Thou look'st; and straight, a coldness wraps the sky,
The summer glory withers from the scene,
Scared by the solemn spell; behold them fly,
The godlike images that seem'd so fair!
Silent the playful Muse--the rosy Hours
Halt in their dance; and the May-breathing flowers
Pall from the sister-Graces' waving hair.
Sweet-mouth'd Apollo breaks his golden lyre,
Hermes, the wand with many a marvel rife;--
The veil, rose-woven by the young Desire
With dreams, drops from the hueless cheeks of Life.
The world seems what it _is_--A Grave! and Love
Casts down the bondage wound his eyes above,
And _sees_!--He sees but images of clay
Where he dream'd gods; and sighs--and glides away.
The youngness of the Beautiful grows old,
And on thy lips the bride's sweet kiss seems cold;
And in the crowd of joys--upon thy throne
Thou sitt'st in state, and harden'st into stone.
* * * * *
It was not without misgiving that I knocked modestly at the door of Mr
Jehu Tomkins. For himself, there was no solidity in his moral
composition, nothing to grapple or rely upon. He was a small weak man of
no character at all, and but for his powerful wife and active partner,
would have become the smallest of unknown quantities in the respectable
parish that contained him. Upon his own weak shoulders he could not have
sustained the burden of an establishment, and must inevitably have
dwindled into the lightest of light porters, or the most aged of
errand-boys. Nothing could have saved him from the operation of a law,
as powerful and certain as that of gravitation, in virtue of which the
soft and empty-headed of this world walk to the wall, and resign,
without a murmur, their places to their betters. As for the deaconess, I
have said already that the fact of her being a lady, and the possessor
of a heart, constituted the only ground of hope that I could have in
reference to her. This I felt to be insecure enough when I held the
knocker in my hand, and remembered all at once the many little tales
that I had heard, every one of which went far to prove that ladies may
be ladies without the generous weakness of their sex,--and carry hearts
about with them as easily as they carry bags.
My first application was unsuccessful. The deacon was not at home. "Mr
Tomkins and his lady had gone _to hear_ the Reverend Doctor
Whitefroth,"--a northern and eccentric light, now blazing for a time in
the metropolis. It is a curious fact, and worthy to be recorded, that Mr
Tomkins, and Mr Buster, and every non-conformist whom I had hitherto
encountered, never professed to visit the house of prayer with any other
object than that of _hearing_. It was never by any accident to worship
or to pray. What, in truth was the vast but lowly looking building, into
which hundreds crowded with the dapper deacon at their head, sabbath
after sabbath--what but a temple sacred to vanity and excitement,
eloquence and perspiration! Which one individual, taken at random from
the concourse, was not ready to declare that his business there that day
was "to hear the dear good man," and nothing else? If you could lay
bare--as, thank Heaven, you cannot--your fellow-creature's heart,
whither would you behold stealing away the adoration that, in such a
place, in such a time, is due to one alone--whither, if not to Mr
Clayton? But let this pass.
I paid a second visit to my friend, and gained admittance. It was about
half-past eight o'clock in the evening, and the shop had been closed
some twenty minutes before. I was ushered into a well-furnished room
behind the shop, where sat the firm--Mrs Jehu and the junior partner.
The latter looked into his lady's face, perceived a smile upon it, and
then--but not till then, he offered me his hand, and welcomed me with
much apparent warmth. This ceremony over, Mr Tomkins grew fidgety and
uneasy, and betrayed a great anxiety to get up a conversation which he
had not heart enough to set a going. Mrs Tomkins, a woman of the world,
evinced no anxiety at all, sat smiling, and in peace. I perceived
immediately that I must state at once the object of my visit, and I
proceeded to the task.
"Mrs Tomkins," I commenced.
"Sir?" said that lady, and then a postman's knock brought us to a stop,
and Jehu skipped across the room to listen at the door.
"That's him, my dear Jemima," exclaimed the linen-draper, "I know his
knock," and then he skipped as quickly to his chair again.
The door of the apartment was opened by a servant girl, who entered the
room alone and approached her mistress with a card. Mrs Tomkins looked
at it through her eye-glass, said "she was most happy," and the servant
then retired. The card was placed upon the table near me, and, as I
believe, for my inspection. I took it up, and read the following words,
"_Mr Stanislaus Levisohn_." They were engraven in the centre of the
paper, and were surrounded by a circle of rays, which in its turn was
enveloped in a circle of clouds. In the very corner of the card, and in
very small characters, the words "_general merchant_" were written.
There was a noise of shoe-cleaning outside the door for about five
minutes, then the door was opened again by the domestic, and a
remarkable gentleman walked very slowly in. He was a tall individual,
with small cunning eyes, black eye-brows, and a beard. He was rather
shabbily attired, and not washed with care. He had thick boorish hands,
and he smelt unpleasantly of tobacco smoke; an affected grin at variance
with every feature, was planted on his face, and sickened an
unprejudiced observer at the very first gaze. His mode of uttering
English betrayed him for a foreigner. He was a native of Poland. Before
uttering a syllable, the interesting stranger walked to a corner of the
room, turned himself to the wall, and muttered a few undistinguishable
words. He then bowed lowly to the company, and took a chair, grinning
all the while.
"Is that a Polish move?" asked Mr Tomkins.
"It vos de coshtom mit de anshent tribes, my tear sare, vor alles tings,
to recommend de family to de protection of de hevins. Vy not now mit all
"Why not indeed?" added Mrs Tomkins. "May I offer you a glass of raisin
"Tank you. For de shtomack's sake--yase."
A glass was poured out. It was but decent to offer me another. I paid my
compliments to the hostess and the gentlemen, and was about to drink it
off, when the enlightened foreigner called upon me in a loud voice to
"Shtay, mein young friend--ve are not de heathen and de cannibal. It is
our privilege to live in de Christian society mit de Christian lady. Ve
most ask blessing--alvays--never forget--you excuse--vait tree minutes."
It was not for me to protest against so pious a movement, albeit it
presented itself somewhat inopportunely and out of place. Mr Levisohn
covered his face with one hand, and murmured a few words. The last only
reached me. It was "Amen," and this was rather heaved up in a sigh, than
"Do you like the wine?" asked Jehu, as if he thought it superfine.
"Yase, I like moch--especially de sherry and de port."
Jehu smiled, but made no reply.
Mrs Tomkins supposed that port and sherry were favourite beverages in
Poland, but, for her part, she had found that nothing agreed so well
with British stomachs as the native wines.
"Ah! my lady," said the Pole, "ve can give up very moch so long ve got
"Very true, indeed," answered Mrs Tomkins. "Pray, Mr Levisohn, what may
be your opinion of the lost sheep? Do you think they will come into the
fold during our time?"
Before the gentleman replies, it may be proper to state on his behalf,
that he had never given his questioner any reason to suppose that he was
better informed on such mysterious subjects than herself. The history of
his introduction into the family of the linen-draper is very short. He
had been for some years connected with Mr Tomkins in the way of
business, having supplied that gentleman with all the genuine foreign,
but certainly English, perfumery, that was retailed with considerable
profit in his over-nice and pious establishment. Mrs Tomkins, no less
zealous in the cause of the church than that of her own shop, at length,
and all on a sudden, resolved to set about his conversion, and to
present him to the chapel as a brand plucked with her own hand from the
burning. As a preliminary step, he was invited to supper, and treated
with peculiar respect. The matter was gently touched upon, but
discussion postponed until another occasion. Mr Levisohn being very
shrewd, very needy, and enjoying no particular principles of morality
and religion, perceived immediately the object of his hostess, met her
more than half-way in her Christian purposes, and accepted her numerous
invitations to tea and supper with the most affectionate readiness.
Within two months he was received into the bosom of the church, and
became as celebrated for the depth and intensity of his belief as for
the earnestness and promptitude with which he attended the meetings of
the brethren, particularly those in which eating and drinking did not
constitute the least important part of the proceedings. Being a
foreigner, he was listened to with the deepest attention, very often
indeed to his serious annoyance, for his ignorance was awful, and his
assurance, great as it was, not always sufficient to get him clear of
his difficulties. His foreign accent, however, worked wonders for him,
and whenever too hard pressed, afforded him a secure and happy retreat.
An unmeaning grin, and "_me not pronounce_," had saved him from
precipices, down which an Englishman, _caeteris paribus_, must
unquestionably have been dashed.
"Vill dey come?" said Mr Levisohn, in answer to the question. "Yase,
certainly, if dey like, I tink."
"Ah, sir, I fear you are a latitudinarian," said the lady.
"I hope Hevin, my dear lady, vill forgive me for dat, and all my
wickedness. I am a shinner, I shtink!"
I looked at the converted gentleman, at the same moment that Mrs Jehu
assured him that it would be a great thing if they were all as satisfied
of their condition as he might be. "Your strong convictions of your
worthlessness is alone a proof," she added, "of your accepted state."
"My lady," continued the humble Stanislaus, "I am rotten, I am a tief, a
blackguard, a swindler, a pickpocket, a housebreak, a sticker mit de
knife. I vish somebody would call me names all de day long, because I
forget sometime dat I am de nashty vurm of de creation. I tink I hire a
boy to call me names, and make me not forget. Oh, my lady, I alvays
remember those fine words you sing--
'If I could read my title clear
To manshions in de shkies,
I say farevell to every fear,
And vipe my veeping eyes.'"
"That is so conscientious of you. Pray, my dear sir, is there an
Establishment in Poland? or have you Independent churches?"
"Ah, my dear lady, we have noting at all!"
"Is it possible?"
"Yase, it is possible--it is true."
"Who could have thought it! What! nothing?"
"Noting at all, my lady. Do not ask me again, I pray you. It is
frightful to a goot Christian to talk dese tings."
"What is your opinion of the Arminian doctrine, Mr Stanislaus?"
"Do you mean de doctrine?" enquired Stanislaus, slowly, as though he
found some difficulty in answering the question.
"Yes, my dear sir."
"I tink," said the gentleman, after some delay, "it vould he very goot
if were not for someting."
"Dear me!" cried Mrs Jehu, "that is so exactly my opinion!"
"Den dere is noting more to be said about dat," continued Stanislaus,
interrupting her; "and I hope you vill not ask dese deep questions, my
dear lady, vich are not at all proper to be answered, and vich put me
into de low spirits. Shall ve sing a hymn?"
"By all means," exclaimed the hostess, who immediately made preparations
for the ceremony. Hymn-books were introduced, and the servant-maid
ordered up, and then a quartet was performed by Mr Levisohn, Mrs
Tomkins, her husband, and Betsy. The subject of the song was the
courtship of Isaac. Two verses only have remained in my memory, and the
manner in which they were given out by the fervent Stanislaus will never
be forgotten. They ran thus:--
"Ven Abraham's servant to procure
A vife for Isaac vent,
He met Rebekah, tould his vish,
Her parents gave conshent.
'Shtay,' Satan, my old master, cries,
'Or force shall thee detain.'
'Hinder me not, I vill be gone,
I vish to break my chain.'"
This being concluded, Mr Tomkins asked Mr Levisohn what he had to say in
the business line, to which Mr Levisohn replied, "Someting very goot,
but should he not vait until after soppare?" whereupon Mr Tomkins gave
his lady a significant leer, and the latter retired, evidently to
prepare the much desired repast. Then did little Jehu turn
confidentially to Stanislaus, and ask him when he meant to deliver that
ere _conac_ that he had promised him so long ago.
"Ven Providence, my tear dikkon, paremits--I expect a case of goots at
de cushtom-house every day; but my friend vot examins de marchandis, and
vot saves me de duties ven I makes it all right mit him, is vary ill, I
am sorry for to say, and ve most vait, mit Christian patience, my dear
sare, till he get well. You see dat?"
"Oh, yes; that's clear enough. Well, Stanny, I only hope that fellow
won't die. I don't think you'd find it so easy to make it _all right_
with any other chap; that's all!"
"I hope he vill not die. Ve mosht pray dat he live, my dear dikkon. I
tink it vill be vell if der goot Mr Clayton pray mit der church for him.
You shall speak for him."
"Well, what have you done about the _Eau de Cologne_?" continued Jehu
Tomkins. "Have you nailed the fellow?"
"It vos specially about dis matter dat I vish to see you, my dear sare.
I persvade der man to sell ten cases. He be very nearly vot you call in
der mess. He valk into de Gazette next week. He shtarve now. I pity him.
De ten cases cost him ten pounds. I give fifty shilling--two pound ten.
He buy meat for de childs, and is tankful. I take ten shillings for my
trouble. Der Christian satisfied mit vary little."
"Any good bills in the market, Stanny?"
Stanislaus Levisohn winked.
"Ho--you don't say so," said the deacon. "Have you got 'em with you?"
"After soppare, my dear sare," answered Stanislaus, who looked at me,
and winked again significantly at Jehu.
Mrs Tomkins returned, accompanied by the vocal Betsy. The cloth was
spread, and real silver forks, and fine cut tumblers, and blue plates
with scripture patterns, speedily appeared. Then came a dish of fried
sausages and parsley--then baked potatoes--then lamb chops. Then we all
sat round the table, and then, against all order and propriety, Mrs Jehu
grossly and publicly insulted her husband at his own board, by calling
upon the enlightened foreigner to ask a blessing upon the meal.
The company sat down; but scarcely were we seated before Stanislaus
"I tank you, my tear goot Mrs Tomkins for dat shop mit der brown, ven it
comes to my turn to be sarved. It look just der ting."
Mrs Jehu served her guest immediately.
"I vill take a sossage, tear lady, also, if you please."
"And a baked potato?"
"And a baked potato? Yase."
He was served.
"I beg your pardon, Christian lady, have you got, perhaps, der littel
pickel-chesnut and der crimson cabbage?"
"Mr Tomkins, go down-stairs and get the pickles," said the mistress of
the house, and Tomkins vanished like a mouse on tiptoe.
Before he could return, Stanislaus had eaten more than half his chop,
and discovered that, after all, "it was _not_ just the ting." Mrs Jehu
entreated him to try another. He declined at first; but at length
suffered himself to be persuaded. Four chops had graced the dish
originally; the remaining two were divided equally between the lady and
myself. I begged that my share might be left for the worthy host, but
receiving a recommendation from his wife "not to mind _him_," I said no
more, but kept Mr Stanislaus Levisohn in countenance.
"I hope you'll find it to your liking, Mr Stukely," said our hostess.
"Mishter vat?" exclaimed the foreigner, looking quickly up. "I tink
"What is the matter, my dear sir?" enquired the lady of the house.
"Noting, my tear friend, I tought der young gentleman vos a poor
unconverted sinner dat I met a long time ago. Dat is all. Ve talk of
Has the reader forgotten the dark-visaged individual, who at the
examination of my lamented father before the Commissioners of Bankruptcy
made his appearance in company with Mr Levy and the ready Ikey? Him I
mean of the vivid imagination, who swore to facts which were no facts at
all, and whom an unpoetic jury sentenced to vile imprisonment for wilful
perjury? _There he sat_, transformed into a Pole, bearded and whiskered,
and the hair of his head close clipped, but in every other regard the
same as when the constable invited him to forsake a too prosaic and
ungrateful world: and had Mr Levisohn been wise and guarded, the
discovery would never have been made by me; for we had met but once
before, then only for a short half hour, and under agitating
circumstances. But my curiosity and attention once roused by his
exclamation, it was impossible to mistake my man. I fixed my eye upon
him, and the harder he pulled at his chop, and the more he attempted to
evade my gaze, the more satisfied was I that a villain and an impostor
was seated amongst us. Thinking, absurdly enough, to do my host and
hostess a lasting service, I determined without delay to unmask the
pretended saint, and to secure his victims from the designs he purposed.
"Mr Levisohn," I said immediately, "you have told the truth--we have met
"Nevare, my tear friend, you mistake; nevare in my life, upon my vurd."
"Mrs Tomkins," I continued, rising, "I should not be worthy of your
hospitality if I did not at once make known to you the character of that
man. He is a convicted criminal. I have myself known him to be guilty of
the grossest practices." Mr Levisohn dropped his chop, turned his greasy
face up, and then looked round the room, and endeavoured to appear
unconcerned, innocent, and amazed all at once. At this moment Jehu
entered the room with the pickles, and the face of the deaconess grew
"Were you ever in the Court of Bankruptcy, Mr Levisohn?" I continued.
"I have never been out of London, my good sare. You labour under de
mistake.--I excuse you. Ah!" he cried our suddenly, as if a new idea had
struck him very hard; "I see now vot it is. I explain. You take me for
"I do not, sir. I accuse you publicly of having committed perjury of the
most shameless kind, and I can prove you guilty of the charge. Do you
know a person of the name of Levy?"
Mr Stanislaus looked to the ceiling after the manner of individuals who
desire, or who do not desire, as the case may be, to call a subject to
remembrance. "No," he answered, after a long pause; "certainly not. I
never hear dat name."
"Beware of him, Mrs Tomkins," I continued, "he is an impostor, a
disgrace to mankind, and to the faith which he professes."
"What do you mean by that, you impertinent young man?" said Mrs Tomkins,
her blood rising to her face, herself rising from her chair. "I should
have thought that a man who had been so recently expelled from his
church would have had more decency. A pretty person you must be, to
bring a charge of this kind against so good a creature as that."
"No, do not say dat," interposted Stanny; "I am not goot. I am a brute
"Mr Tomkins," continued the lady, "I don't know what object that person
has in disturbing the peace of our family, or why he comes here at all
to-night. He is a mischief-making, hardened young man, or he would never
have come to what he has. Well, I'm sure--What will Satan put into his
"I vould vish you be not angry. Der young gentleman is, I dare say, vary
goot at heart. He is labouring under de deloosions."
"Mr Levisohn, pardon me, I am not. Proofs exist, and I can bring them to
"Do you hear that, Mr Tomkins. Were you ever insulted so before? Are you
master in your own house?"
"What shall I do?" said Jehu, trembling with excitement at the door.
"Do! What! Give him his hat, turn him out."
"Oh, my dear goot Christian friends," said Mr Levisohn, imploringly; "de
booels of der Christian growls ven he shees dese sights; vot is de goot
of to fight? It is shtoopid. Let me be der peacemaker. Der yong man has
been drink, perhaps. I forgive him from te bottom of my heart. If ve
quarrel ve fight. If ve fight ve lose every ting.
'So Samson, ven his hair vos lost,
Met the Philistines to his cost,
Shook his vain limbs in shad shurprise,
Made feeble fight, and lost his eyes.'"
"Mr Tomkins," I exclaimed, "I court inquiry, I can obtain proofs."
"We want none of your proofs, you backslider," cried the deaconess.
"Get out of the house, ambassador of Satan! Mr Tomkins, will you tell
him instantly to go?"
"Go!" squealed Tomkins from the door, not advancing an inch.
I seized my hat, and left the table.
"You will be sorry for this, sir," said I; "and you, madam"----
"Don't talk to me, you bad man. If you don't go this minute I'll spring
the rattle and have up the watchmen."
I did not attempt to say another word. I left the room, and hurried from
the house. I had hardly shut the street door before it was violently
opened again, and the head of Mr Levisohn made itself apparent.
"Go home," exclaimed that gentleman, "and pray to be shaved, you
It was not many days after the enacting of this scene, that I entered
upon my duties as the instructor of the infant children of my friend. It
was useless to renew my application to the deacon, and I abandoned the
idea. The youngest of my pupils was the lisping Billy. It was my honour
to introduce him at the very porch of knowledge--to place him on the
first step of learning's ladder--to make familiar to him the simple
letters of his native tongue, in whose mysterious combinations the
mighty souls of men appear and speak. The lesson of the alphabet was the
first that I gave, and a heavy sadness depressed and humbled me when, as
the child repeated wonderingly after me, letter by letter, I could not
but feel deeply and acutely the miserable blighting of my youthful
promises. How long was it ago--it seemed but yesterday, when the sun
used to shine brightly into my own dear bed-room, and awake me with its
first gush of light, telling my ready fancy that he came to rouse me
from inaction, and to encourage me to my labours. Oh, happy labours!
Beloved books! What joy I had amongst you! The house was silent--the
city's streets tranquil as the breath of morning. I heard nothing but
the glorious deeds ye spoke of, and saw only the worthies that were but
dust, when centuries now passed were yet unborn, but whose immortal
spirits are vouchsafed still to elevate man, and cheer him onward. How
intense and sweet was our communion; and as I read and read on, how
gratefully repose crept over me; how difficult it seemed to think
unkindly of the world, or to believe in all the tales of human
selfishness and cruelty with which the old will ever mock the ear and
dull the heart of the confiding and the young. How willing I felt to
love, and how gay a place was earth, with her constant sun, and
overflowing lap, and her thousand joys, for man! And how intense was the
fire of _hope_ that burned within me--fed with new fuel every passing
hour, and how abiding and how beautiful _the future_! THE FUTURE! and it
was here--a nothing--a dream--a melancholy phantasm!
There are seasons of adversity, in which the mind, plunged in
despondency and gloom, is startled and distressed by pictures of a
happier time, that travel far to fool and tantalize the suffering heart.
I sat with the child, and gazing full upon him, beheld him not, but--a
vision of my father's house. There sits the good old man, and at his
side--ah, how seldom were they apart!--my mother. And there, too, is the
clergyman, my first instructor. Every well-remembered piece of furniture
is there. The chair, sacred to my sire, and venerated by me for its age,
and for our long intimacy. I have known it since first I knew myself.
The antique bookcase--the solid chest of drawers--the solemn sofa, all
substantial as ever, and looking, as at first, the immoveable and
natural properties of the domestic parlour. My mother has her eyes upon
me, and they are full of tears. My father and the minister are building
up my fortunes, are fixing in the sandy basis of futurity an edifice
formed of glittering words, incorporeal as the breath that rears it. And
the feelings of that hour come back upon me. I glow with animation,
confidence, and love. I have the strong delight that beats within the
bosom of the boy who has the parents' trusty smile for ever on him. I
dream of pouring happiness into those fond hearts--of growing up to be
their prop and staff in their decline. I pierce into the future, and
behold myself the esteemed and honoured amongst men--the patient,
well-rewarded scholar--the cherished and the cherisher of the dear
authors of my life--all brightness--all glory--all unsullied joy. The
child touches my wet cheek, and asks me why I weep?--why?--why? He knows
not of the early wreck that has annihilated the unhappy teacher's peace.
We were still engaged upon our lesson, when John Thompson interrupted
the proceeding, by entering the apartment in great haste, and placing in
my hands a newspaper. "He had been searching," he said, "for one whole
fortnight, to find a situation that would suit me, and now he thought
that he had hit upon it. There it was, 'a tutorer in a human family,' to
teach the languages and the sciences. Apply from two to four. It's just
three now. Send the youngster to his mother, and see after it, my
friend. I wouldn't have you lose it for the world." I took the journal
from his hands, and, as though placed there by the hand of the avenger
to arouse deeper remorse, to draw still hotter blood from the lacerated
heart, the following announcement, and nothing else, glared on the
paper, and took possession of my sight.
"UNIVERSITY INTELLIGENCE. After a contest more severe than any known for
years, MR JOHN SMITHSON, _of Trinity College, Cambridge_, has been
declared THE SENIOR WRANGLER of his year. Mr Smithson is, we understand,
the son of a humble curate in Norfolk, whose principal support has been
derived from the exertions of his son during his residence in the
University. The honour could not have been conferred on a more deserving
child of Alma Mater."
A hundred recollections crowded on my brain. My heart was torn with
anguish. The perseverance and the filial piety of Smithson, so opposite
to my unsteadiness and unnatural disloyalty, confounded and unmanned me.
I burst into tears before the faithful Thompson, and covered my face for
"What is the matter, lad?" exclaimed the good fellow, pale with
surprise, his eye trembling with honest feeling. "Have I hurt you? Drat
the paper! Don't think, Stukely, I wished to get rid of you. Don't think
so hard of your old friend. I thought to help and do you service; I know
you have the feelings of a gentleman about you, and I wouldn't wound
'em, God knows, for any thing. There, think no more about it. I am so
rough a hand, I'm not fit to live with Christians. I mean no harm,
believe me. Get rid of you, my boy! I only wish you'd say this is your
home, and never leave me--that would make me happy."
"Thompson," I answered, through my tears, "I am not deserving of your
friendship. You have not offended me. You have never wronged me. You are
all kindness and truth. I have had no real enemy but myself. Read that
I pointed to the paragraph, and he read it.
"What of it?" he asked.
"Thompson," listen to me; "what do you say of such a son?"
"I can guess his father's feelings," said my friend. "Earth's a heaven,
Stukely, when father and child live together as God appointed them."
"But when a child breaks a parent's heart, Thompson--what then?"
"Don't talk about it, lad. I have got eleven of 'em, and that's a side
of the picture that I can't look at with pleasure. I think the boys are
good. They have gone on well as yet; but who can tell what a few years
"Or a few months, Thompson," I answered quickly, "or a few days, or
hours, when the will is fickle, principles unfixed, and the heart
treacherous and false. That Smithson and I, Thompson, were fellow
students. We left home together--we took up our abode in the University
together--we were attached to the same college--taught by the same
master--read from the same books. My feelings were as warm as his. My
resolution to do well apparently as firm, my knowledge and attainments
as extensive. If he was encouraged, and protected, and urged forward by
the fond love of a devoted household--so was I. If parental blessings
hallowed his entrance upon those pursuits which have ended so
successfully for him--so did they mine. If he had motive for exertion, I
had not less--we were equal in the race which we began together--look at
"How did it happen, then?"
"He was honest and faithful to his purpose. I was not. He saw one object
far in the distance before him, and looked neither to the right nor
left, but dug his arduous way towards it. He craved not the false
excitement of temporary applause, nor deemed the opinion of weak men
essential to his design. He had a sacred duty to perform, which left him
not the choice of action, and he performed it to the letter. He had a
feeling conscience, and a reasoning heart, and the home of his youth,
and the sister who had grown up with him, the father who had laboured,
the mother who had striven for him, visited him by night and by day--in
his silent study, and in his lonely bed, comforting, animating, and
supporting him by their delightful presence."
"And what did you do?"
"Just the reverse of this. I had neither simplicity of aim, nor
stability of affection. One slip from the path, and I hadn't energy to
take the road again. One vicious inclination, and the virtuous resolves
of years melted before it. The sneer of a fool could frighten me from
rectitude--the smile of a girl render me indifferent to the pangs that
tear a parent's heart. Look at us both. Look at him--the man whom I
treated with contemptuous derision. What a return home for him--his
mission accomplished--HIS DUTY DONE! Look at me, the outcast, the
beggar, the despised--the author of a mother's death, a father's
bankruptcy and ruin--with no excuse for misconduct, no promise for the
future, no self-justification, and no hope of pardon beyond that
afforded to the vilest criminal that comes repentant to the mercy throne
"Well--but, sir--Stukely--don't take the thing to heart. You are
young--look for'rads. Oh, I tell you, it's a blessed thing to be sorry
for our faults, and to feel as if we wished to do better for the time to
come. I'm an older man than you, and I bid you take comfort, and trust
to God for better things, and better things will come, too. You are not
so badly off now as you were this time twelvemonth. And you know I'll
never leave you. Don't despond--don't give away. It's unnatural for a
man to do it, and he's lost if he does. Oh, bless you, this is a life of
suffering and sorrow, and well it is; for who wouldn't go mad to think
of leaving all his young 'uns behind him, and every thing he loves, if
he wasn't taught that there's a quieter place above, where all shall
meet agin? You know me, my boy; I can't talk, but I want to comfort you
and cheer you up--and so, give me your hand, old fellow, and say you
won't think of all this any more, but try and forget it, and see about
settling comfortably in life. What do you say to the advertisement? A
tutorer in a human family, to teach the languages and the sciences. Come
now, that's right; I'm glad to see you laugh. I suppose I don't give the
right pronunciation to the words. Well, never mind; laugh at your old
friend. He'd rather see you laugh at him than teaze your heart about
Thompson would not be satisfied until I had read the advertisement, and
given him my opinion of its merits. He would not suffer me to say
another word about my past misfortunes, but insisted on my looking
forward cheerfully, and like a man. The situation appeared to him just
the thing for me; and after all, if I had wrangled as well as that 'ere
Smithson--(though, at the same time, _wrangling_ seemed a very
aggravating word to put into young men's mouths at all)--perhaps I
shouldn't have been half as happy as a quiet comfortable life would make
me. "I was cut out for a tutorer. He was sure of it. So he'd thank me to
read the paper without another syllable." The advertisement, in truth,
was promising. "The advertiser, in London, desired to engage the
services of a young gentleman, capable of teaching the ancient
languages, and giving his pupils 'an introduction to the sciences.' The
salary would be liberal, and the occupation with a humane family in the
country, who would receive the tutor as one of themselves. References
would be required and given."
"References would be required and given," I repeated, after having
concluded the advertisement, and put the paper down.
"Yes, that's the only thing!" said Thompson, scratching his honest ear,
like a man perplexed and driven to a corner. "We haven't got no
references to give. But I'll tell you what we've got though. We've got
the papers of these freehold premises, and we've something like two
thousand in the bank. I'll give 'em them, if you turns out a bad 'un.
That I'll undertake to do, and shan't be frightened either. Now, you
just go, and see if you can get it. Where do you apply?"
"Wait, Thompson. I must not suffer you"----
"Did you hear what I said, sir? where do you apply?"
"At X.Y.Z." said I, "in Swallow street, Saint James's."
"Then, don't you lose a minute. I shouldn't be surprised if the place is
run down already. London's overstocked with tutorers and men of larning.
You come along o' me, Billy, and don't you lose sight of this 'ere
chance, my boy. If they wants a reference, tell 'em I'll be glad to wait
Three days had not elapsed after this conversation, before my services
were accepted by X.Y.Z.--and I had engaged to travel into Devonshire to
enter at once upon my duties, as teacher in the dwelling-house of the
Reverend Walter Fairman. X.Y.Z. was a man of business; and, fortunately
for me, had known my father well. He was satisfied with my connexion,
and with the unbounded recommendation which Thompson gave with me. Mr
Fairman was incumbent of one of the loveliest parishes in England, and
the guardian and teacher of six boys. My salary was fifty pounds per
annum, with board and lodging. The matter was settled in a few hours,
and before I had time to consider, my place was taken in the coach, and
a letter was dispatched to Mr Fairman, announcing my intended departure.
Nothing could exceed the joy of Thompson at my success--nothing could be
kinder and more anxious than his valuable advice.
"Now," he said as we walked together from the coach-office, "was I wrong
in telling you that better things would turn up? Take care of yourself,
and the best wrangler of the lot may be glad to change places with you.
It isn't lots of larning, or lots of money, or lots of houses and
coaches, that makes a man happy in this world. They never can do it; but
they can do just the contrarery, and make him the miserablest wretch as
crawls. _A contented mind_ is 'the one thing needful.' Take what God
gives gratefully, and do unto others as you would that they should do
unto you. That's a maxim that my poor father was always giving me, and,
I wish, when I take the young 'uns to church, that they could always
hear it, for human natur needs it."
The evening before my setting out was spent with Thompson's family. I
had received a special invitation, and Thompson, with the labouring
sons, were under an engagement to the mistress of the house, to leave
the workshop at least an hour earlier than usual. Oh, it was a sight to
move the heart of one more hardened than I can boast to be, to behold
the affectionate party assembled to bid me farewell, and to do honour to
our leave-taking. A little feast was prepared for the occasion, and my
many friends were dressed, all in their Sunday clothes, befittingly.
There was not one who had not something to give me for a token. Mary had
worked me a purse; and Mary blushed whilst her mother betrayed her, and
gave the little keepsake. Ellen thought a pincushion might be useful;
and the knitter of the large establishment provided me with comforters.
All the little fellows, down to Billy himself, had a separate gift,
which each must offer with a kiss, and with a word or two expressive of
his good wishes. All hoped I would come soon again, and Aleck more than
hinted a request that I would postpone my departure to some indefinite
period which he could not name. Poor tremulous heart! how it throbbed
amongst them all, and how sad it felt to part from them! Love bound me
to the happy room--the only love that connected the poor outcast with
the wide cold world. This was the home of my affections--could I leave
it--could I venture once more upon the boisterous waters of life without
regret and apprehension?
Thompson kindly offered to accompany me on the following morning to the
inn from which I was destined to depart, but I would not hear of it. He
was full of business; had little time to spare, and none to throw away
upon me. I begged him not to think of it, and he acquiesced in my
wishes. We were sitting together, and his wife and children had an hour
or two previously retired to rest.
"Them's good children, ain't they, Stukely?" enquired Thompson, after
having made a long pause.
"You may well be proud of them," I answered.
"It looked nice of 'em to make you a little present of something before
you went. But it was quite right. That's just as it should be. I like
that sort of thing, especially when a man understands the sperrit that a
thing's given with. Now, some fellows would have been offended if any
thing had been offered 'em. How I do hate all that!"
"I assure you, Thompson, I feel deeply their kind treatment of their
friend. I shall never forget it."
"You ain't offended, then?"
"Well, now, I am so happy to hear it, you can't think," continued
Thompson, fumbling about his breeches pocket, and drawing from it at
length something which he concealed in his fist. "There, take that," he
suddenly exclaimed; "take it, my old fellow, and God bless you. It's no
good trying to make a fuss about it."
I held a purse of money in my hand.
"No, Thompson," I replied, "I cannot accept it. Do not think me proud or
ungrateful; but I have no right to take it."
"It's only twenty guineas, man, and I can afford it. Now look, Stukely,
you are going to leave me. If you don't take it, you'll make me as
wretched as the day is long. You are my friend, and my friend mustn't go
amongst strangers without an independent spirit. If you have twenty
guineas in your pocket, you needn't be worrying yourself about little
things. You'll find plenty of ways to make the money useful. You shall
pay me, if you like, when you grow rich, and we meets again; but take it
now, and make John Thompson happy."
In the lap of nature the troubled mind gets rest; and the wounds of the
heart heal rapidly, once delivered there, safe from contact with the
infectious world; and the bosom of the nursing mother is not more
powerful or quick to lull the pain and still the sobs of her distressed
ones. It is the sanctuary of the bruised spirit, and to arrive at it is
to secure shelter and to find repose. Peace, eternal and blessed,
birthright and joy of angels, whither do those glimpses hover that we
catch of thee in this tumultuous life, weak, faint, and transient though
they be, melting the human soul with heavenly tranquillity? Whither, if
not upon the everlasting hills, where the brown line divides the sky, or
on the gentle sea, where sea and sky are one--a liquid cupola--or in the
leafy woods and secret vales, where beauty lends her thrilling voice to
silence? How often will the remembrance only of one bright spot--a
vision of Paradise rising over the dull waste of my existence--send a
glow of comfort to my aged heart, and a fresh feeling of repose which
the harsh business of life cannot extinguish or disturb! And what a fair
history comes with that shadowy recollection! How much of passionate
condensed existence is involved in it, and how mysteriously, yet
naturally connected with it, seem all the noblest feelings of my
imperfect nature! The scene of beauty has become "a joy for ever."
I recall a spring day--a sparkling day of the season of youth and
promise--and a nook of earth, fit for the wild unshackled sun to skip
along and brighten with his inconstant giddy light. Hope is everywhere;
murmuring in the brooks, and smiling in the sky. Upon the bursting trees
she sits; she nestles in the hedges. She fills the throat of mating
birds, and bears the soaring lark nearer and nearer to the gate of
Heaven. It is the first holiday of the year, and the universal heart is
glad. Grief and apprehension cannot dwell in the human breast on such a
day; and, for an hour, even _Self_ is merged in the general joy. I reach
my destination; and the regrets for the past, and the fear for the
future, which have accompanied me through the long and anxious journey,
fall from the oppressed spirit, and leave it buoyant, cheerful,
free--free to delight itself in a land of enchantment, and to revel
again in the unsubstantial glories of a youthful dream. I paint the
Future in the colours that surround me, and I confide in her again.
It was noon when we reached the headquarters of the straggling parish of
Deerhurst--its chief village. We had travelled since the golden sunrise
over noble earth, and amongst scenes scarcely less heavenly than the
blue vault which smiled upon them. Now the horizon was bounded by a
range of lofty hills linked to each other by gentle undulations, and
bearing to their summits innumerable and giant trees; these, crowded
together, and swayed by the brisk wind, presented to the eye the figure
of a vast and supernatural sea, and made the intervening vale of
loveliness a neglected blank. Then we emerged suddenly--yes,
instantaneously--as though designing nature, with purpose to surprize,
had hid behind the jutting crag, beneath the rugged steep--upon a world
of beauty; garden upon garden, sward upon sward, hamlet upon hamlet, far
as the sight could reach, and purple shades of all beyond. Then, flashes
of the broad ocean, like quick transitory bursts of light, started at
intervals, washing the feet of a tall emerald cliff, or, like a lake,
buried between the hills. Shorter and shorter become the intermissions,
larger and larger grows the watery expanse, until, at length, the mighty
element rolls unobstructed on, and earth, decked in her verdant leaves,
her flowers and gems, is on the shore to greet her.
The entrance to the village is by a swift, precipitous descent. On
either side are piled rude stones, placed there by a subtle hand, and
with a poet's aim, to touch the fancy, and to soothe the traveller with
thoughts of other times--of ruined castles, and of old terrace walks.
Already have the stones fulfilled their purpose, and the ivy, the brier,
and the saxifrage have found a home amongst them. At the foot of the
declivity, standing like a watchful mother, is the church--the small,
the unpretending, the venerable and lovely village church. You do not
see a house till she is passed. Before a house was built about her, she
was an aged church, and her favoured graves were rich in heavenly clay.
The churchyard gate; and then at once, the limited and quiet village,
nestling in a valley and shut out from the world: beautiful and
self-sufficient. Hill upon hill behind, each greener than the last--hill
upon hill before, all exclusion, and nothing but her own surpassing
loveliness to console and cheer her solitude. And is it not enough? What
if she know little of the sea beyond its voice, and nothing of external
life--her crystal stream, her myrtle-covered cottages, her garden plots,
her variegated flowers and massive foliage, her shady dells and scented
lanes are joys enough for her small commonwealth. Thin curling smoke
that rises like a spirit from the hidden bosom of one green hillock,
proclaims the single house that has its seat upon the eminence. It is
the parsonage--my future home.
With a trembling heart I left the little inn, and took my silent way to
the incumbent's house. There was no eye to follow me, the leafy street
was tenantless, and seemed made over to the restless sun and dissolute
winds to wanton through it as they pleased. As I ascended, the view
enlarged--beauty became more beauteous, silence more profound. I reached
the parsonage gate, and my heart yearned to tell how much I longed to
live and die on this sequestered and most peaceful spot. The
dwelling-house was primitive and low; its long and overhanging roof was
thatched; its windows small and many. A myrtle, luxuriant as a vine,
covered its entire front, and concealed the ancient brick and wood. A
raised bank surrounded the green nest, and a gentle slope conducted to a
lawn fringed with the earliest flowers of the year. I rang the loud
bell, and a neatly dressed servant-girl gave me admittance to the house.
In a room of moderate size, furnished by a hand as old at least as the
grandsires of the present occupants, and well supplied with books, sat
the incumbent. He was a man of fifty years of age or more, tall and
gentlemanly in demeanour. His head was partly bald, and what remained of
his hair was grey almost to whiteness. He had a noble forehead, a marked
brow, and a cold grey eye. His mouth betrayed sorrow, or habitual deep
reflection, and the expression of every other feature tended to
seriousness. The first impression was unfavourable. A youth, who was
reading with the minister when I entered the apartment, was dismissed
with a simple inclination of the head, and the Rev. Walter Fairman then
pointed to a seat.
"You have had a tedious journey, Mr Stukely," began the incumbent, "and
you are fatigued, no doubt."
"What a glorious spot this is, sir!" I exclaimed.
"Yes, it is pretty," answered Mr Fairman, very coldly as I thought. "Are
you hungry, Mr Stukely? We dine early; but pray take refreshment if you
I declined respectfully.
"Do you bring letters from my agent?"
"I have a parcel in my trunk, sir, which will be here immediately. What
magnificent trees!" I exclaimed again, my eyes riveted upon a stately
cluster, which were about a hundred yards distant.
"Have you been accustomed to tuition?" asked Mr Fairman, taking no
notice of my remark.
"I have not, sir, but I am sure that I shall be delighted with the
occupation. I have always thought so."
"We must not be too sanguine. Nothing requires more delicate handling
than the mind of youth. In no business is experience, great discernment
and tact, so much needed as in that of instruction."
"Yes, sir, I am aware of it."
"No doubt," answered Mr Fairman quietly. "How old are you?"
I told my age, and blushed.
"Well, well," said the incumbent, "I have no doubt we shall do. You are
a Cambridge man, Mr Graham writes me?"
"I was only a year, sir, at the university. Circumstances prevented a
longer residence. I believe I mentioned the fact to Mr Graham."
"Oh yes, he told me so. You shall see the boys this afternoon. They are
fine-hearted lads, and much may be done with them. There are six. Two of
them are pretty well advanced. They read Euripides and Horace. Is
Euripides a favourite of yours?"
"He is tender, plaintive, and passionate," I answered; "but perhaps I
may be pardoned if I venture to prefer the vigour and majesty of the
"You mean you like AEschylus better. Do you write poetry, Mr Stukely? Not
Latin verses, but English poetry."
"I do not, sir."
"Well, I am glad of that. It struck me that you did. Will you really
take no refreshment? Are you not fatigued?"
"Not in the least, sir. This lovely prospect, for one who has seen so
little of nature as I have, is refreshment enough for the present."
"Ah," said Mr Fairman, sighing faintly, "you will get accustomed to it.
There is something in the prospect, but more in your own mind. Some of
our poor fellows would be easily served and satisfied, if we could feed
them on the prospect. But if you are not tired you shall see more of it
if you will. I have to go down to the village. We have an hour till
dinner-time. Will you accompany me?"
"With pleasure, sir."
"Very well." Mr Fairman then rang the bell, and the servant girl came
"Where's Miss Ellen, Mary?" asked the incumbent.
"She has been in the village since breakfast, sir. Mrs Barnes sent word
that she was ill, and Miss took her the rice and sago that Dr Mayhew
"Has Warden been this morning?"
"Foolish fellow. I'll call on him. Mary, if Cuthbert the fisherman
comes, give him that bottle of port wine; but tell him not to touch a
drop of it himself. It is for his sick child, and it is committing
robbery to take it. Let him have the blanket also that was looked out
"It's gone, sir. Miss sent it yesterday."
"Very well. There is nothing more. Now, Mr Stukely, we will go."
I have said already that the first opinion which I formed of the
disposition of Mr Fairman was not a flattering one. Before he spoke a
word, I felt disappointed and depressed. My impression after our short
conversation was worse than the first. The natural effect of the scene
in which I suddenly found myself, had been to prepare my ever too
forward spirit for a man of enthusiasm and poetic temperament. Mr
Fairman was many degrees removed from warmth. He spoke to me in a sharp
tone of voice, and sometimes, I suspected, with the intention of mocking
me. His _manner_, when he addressed the servant-girl, was not more
pleasing. When I followed him from the room, I regretted the haste with
which I had accepted my appointment; but a moment afterwards I entered
into fairyland again, and the passing shadow left me grateful to
Providence for so much real enjoyment. We descended the hill, and for a
time, in silence, Mr Fairman was evidently engaged in deep thought, and
I had no wish to disturb him. Every now and then we lighted upon a view
of especial beauty, and I was on the point of expressing my unbounded
admiration, when one look at my cool and matter-of-fact companion at
once annoyed and stopped me.
"Yes," said Mr Fairman at length, still musing. "It is very
difficult--very difficult to manage the poor. I wonder if they are
grateful at heart. What do you think, Mr Stukely?"
"I have nothing to say of the poor, sir, but praise."
Mr Fairman looked hard at me, and smiled unpleasantly.
"It is the scenery, I suppose. That will make you praise every thing for
the next day or so. It will not do, though. We must walk on our feet,
and be prosaic in this world. The poor are not as poets paint them, nor
is there so much happiness in a hovel as they would lead you to expect.
The poets are like you--they have nothing to say but praise. Ah, me!
they draw largely on their imaginations."
"I do not, sir, in this instance," I answered, somewhat nettled. "My
most valued friends are in the humblest ranks of life. I am proud to say
so. I am not prepared to add, that the most generous of men are the most
needy, although it has been my lot to meet with sympathy and succour at
the hands of those who were much in want of both themselves."
"I believe you, Mr Stukely," answered the incumbent in a more feeling
tone. "I am not fond of theories; yet that's a theory with which I would
willingly pass through life; but it will not answer. It is knocked on
the head every hour of the day. Perhaps it is our own fault. We do not
know how to reach the hearts, and educate the feelings of the ignorant
and helpless. Just step in here."
We were standing before a hut at the base of the hill. It was a low
dirty-looking place, all roof, with a neglected garden surrounding it.
One window was in the cob-wall. It had been fixed there originally,
doubtless with the object of affording light to the inmates; but light,
not being essential to the comfort or happiness of the present tenants,
was in a great measure excluded by a number of small rags which occupied
the place of the diamond panes that had departed many months before. A
child, ill-clad, in fragments of clothes, with long and dirty hair,
unclean face, and naked feet, cried at the door, and loud talking was
heard within. Mr Fairman knocked with his knuckle before he entered, and
a gruff voice desired him to "come in." A stout fellow, with a surly
countenance and unshaven beard, was sitting over an apology for a fire,
and a female of the same age and condition was near him. She bore an
unhappy infant in her arms, whose melancholy peakish face, not
twelve-months old, looked already conscious of prevailing misery. There
was no flooring to the room, which contained no one perfect or complete
article of furniture, but symptoms of many, from the blanketless bed
down to the solitary coverless saucepan. Need I add, that the man who
sat there, the degraded father of the house, had his measure of liquor
before him, and that the means of purchasing it were never wanting,
however impudently charity might be called upon to supply the starving
family with bread?
The man did not rise upon our entrance. He changed colour very slightly,
and looked more ignorantly surly, or tried to do so.
"Well, Jacob Warden," said the incumbent, "you are determined to brave
it out, I see." The fellow did not answer.
"When I told you yesterday that your idleness and bad habits were
bringing you to ruin, you answered--_I was a liar_. I then said, that
when you were sorry for having uttered that expression, you might come
to the parsonage and tell me so. You have not been yet--I am grieved to
say it. What have I ever done to you, Jacob Warden, that you should
behave so wickedly? I do not wish you to humble yourself to me, but I
should have been glad to see you do your duty. If I did mine, perhaps, I
should give you up, and see you no more, for I fear you are a hardened
"He hasn't had no work for a month," said the wife, in a tone of
upbraiding, as if the minister had been the wilful cause of it.
"And whose fault is that, Mrs Warden? There is work enough for sober and
honest men in the parish. Why was your husband turned away from the
"Why, all along of them spoons. They never could prove it agin him,
that's one thing--though they tried it hard enough."
"Come, come, Mrs Warden, if you love that man, take the right way to
show it. Think of your children."
"Yes; if I didn't--who would, I should like to know? The poor are
trodden under foot."
"Not so, Mrs Warden, the poor are taken care of, if they are deserving.
God loves the poor, and commands us all to love them. Give me your
Bible?" The woman hesitated a minute, and then answered--
"Never mind the Bible, that won't get us bread."
"Give me your Bible, Mrs Warden."
"We have'nt got it. What's the use of keeping a Bible in the house for
children as can't read, when they are crying for summat to eat?"
"You have sold it, then?"
"We got a shilling on it--that's all."
"Have you ever applied to us for food, and has it been denied you?"
"Well, I don't know. The servant always looks grumpy at us when we come
a-begging, and seems to begrudge us every mouthful. It's all very well
to live on other persons' leavings. I dare say you don't give us what
you could eat yourselves."
"We give the best we can afford, Mrs Warden, and, God knows, with no
such feeling as you suppose. How is the child? Is it better?"
"Yes, no thanks to Doctor Mayhew either."
"Did he not call, then?"
"Call! Yes, but he made me tramp to his house for the physic, and when
he passed the cottage the other day, I called after him; but devil a bit
would he come back. We might have died first, of course: he knows, he
isn't paid, and what does he care?"
"It is very wrong of you to talk so. You are well aware that he was
hurrying to a case of urgency, and could not be detained. He visited you
upon the following day, and told you so."
"Oh yes, the following day! What's that to do with it?"
"Woman" exclaimed Mr Fairman, solemnly, "my heart bleeds for those poor
children. What will become of them with such an example before their
eyes? I can say no more to you than I have repeated a hundred times
before. I would make you happy in this world if I could; I would save
you. You forbid me. I would be your true friend, and you look upon me as
an enemy. Heaven, I trust, will melt your heart! What is that child
"What! she hasn't had a blessed thing to-day. We had nothing for her."
Mr Fairman took some biscuits from his pockets, and placed them on the
table. "Let the girl come in, and eat," said he. "I shall send you some
meat from the village. Warden, I cannot tell you how deeply I feel your
wickedness. I did expect you to come to the parsonage and say you were
sorry. It would have looked well, and I should have liked it. You put it
out of my power to help you. It is most distressing to see you both
going headlong to destruction. May you live to repent! I shall see you
again this evening, and I will speak to you alone. Come, Mr Stukely, our
time is getting short."
The incumbent spoke rapidly, and seemed affected. I looked at him, and
could hardly believe him to be the cold and unimpassioned man that I had
at first imagined him.
We pursued our way towards the village.
"There, sir," said the minister in a quick tone of voice, "what is the
beautiful prospect, and what are the noble trees, to the heart of that
man? What have they to do at all with man's morality? Had those people
never seen a shrub or flower, could they have been more impenetrable,
more insolent and suspicious, or steeped in vice much deeper? That man
wants only opportunity, a large sphere of action, and the variety of
crime and motive that are to be found amongst congregated masses of
mankind, to become a monster. His passions and his vices are as wilful
and as strong as those of any man born and bred in the sinks of a great
city. They have fewer outlets, less capability of mischief--and there is
I ventured no remark, and the incumbent, after a short pause, continued
in a milder strain.
"I may be, after all, weak and inefficient. Doubtless great delicacy and
caution are required. Heavenly truths are not to be administered to
these as to the refined and willing. The land must be ploughed, or it is
useless to sow the seed. Am I not perhaps, an unskilful labourer?"
Mr Fairman stopped at the first house in the village--the prettiest of
the half dozen myrtle-covered cottages before alluded to. Here he tapped
softly, and a gentle foot that seemed to know the visitor hastened to
"Well, Mary," said the minister, glancing round the room--a clean and
happy-looking room it was--"where's Michael?"
"He is gone, sir, as you bade him, to make it up with Cousin Willett. He
couldn't rest easy, sir, since you told him that it was no use coming to
church so long as he bore malice. He won't be long, sir."
Mr Fairman smiled; and cold as his grey eye might be, it did not seem so
"Mary, that is good of him; tell him his minister is pleased. How is
work with him?"
"He has enough to do, to carry him to the month's end, sir."
"Then at the month's end, Mary, let him come to the parsonage. I have
something for him there. But we can wait till then. Have you seen the
itinerary preacher since?"
"It is not his time, sir. He didn't promise to come till Monday week."
"Do neither you nor Michael speak with him, nor listen to his public
preachings. I mean, regard him not as one having authority. I speak
solemnly, and with a view to your eternal peace. Do not forget."
Every house was visited, and in all, opportunity was found for the
exercise of the benevolent feelings by which the incumbent was
manifestly actuated. He lost no occasion of affording his flock sound
instruction and good advice. It could not be doubted for an instant that
their real welfare, temporal and everlasting, lay deeply in his heart. I
was struck by one distinguishing feature in his mode of dealing with his
people; it was so opposed to the doctrine and practice of Mr Clayton,
and of those who were connected with him. With the latter, a certain
degree of physical fervour, and a conventional peculiarity of
expression, were insisted upon and accepted as evidences of grace and
renewed life. With Mr Fairman, neither acquired heat, nor the more
easily acquired jargon of a clique, were taken into account. He rather
repressed than encouraged their existence; but he was desirous, and even
eager, to establish rectitude of conduct and purity of feeling in the
disciples around him: these were to him tangible witnesses of the
operation of that celestial Spirit before whose light the mists of
simulation and deceit fade unresistingly away. I could not help
remarking, however, that in every cottage the same injunction was given
in respect of the itinerant; the same solemnity of manner accompanied
the command; the same importance was attached to its obedience. There
seemed to me, fresh from the hands of Mr Clayton, something of bigotry
and uncharitableness in all this. I did not hint at this effect upon my
own mind, nor did I inquire into the motives of the minister. I was not
pleased; but I said nothing. As if Mr Fairman read my very thoughts, he
addressed me on the subject almost before the door of the last cottage
was closed upon us.
"_Bigoted_ and _narrow-minded,_ are the terms, Mr Stukely, by which the
extremely liberal would characterize the line of conduct which I am
compelled by duty to pursue. I cannot be frightened by harsh terms. I am
the pastor of these people, and must decide and act for them. I am their
shepherd, and must be faithful. Poor and ignorant, and unripe in
judgment, and easily deceived by the shows and counterfeits of truth as
the ignorant are, is it for me to hand them over to perplexity and risk?
They are simple believers, and are contented. They worship God, and are
at peace. They know their lot, and do not murmur at it. Is it right that
they should be disturbed with the religious differences and theological
subtleties which have already divided into innumerable sects the
universal family of Christians whom God made one? Is it fair or merciful
to whisper into their ears the plausible reasons of dissatisfaction,
envy, and complaining, to which the uninformed of all classes but too
eagerly listen? I have ever found the religious and the political
propagandist united in the same individual. The man who proposes to the
simple to improve his creed, is ready to point out the way to better his
condition. He succeeds in rendering him unhappy in both, and there he
leaves him. So would this man, and I would rather die for my people,
than tamely give them over to their misery."
A tall, stout, weather-beaten man, in the coarse dress of a fisherman,
descending the hill, intercepted our way. It was the man Cuthbert,
already mentioned by Mr Fairman. He touched his southwester to the
"How is the boy, Cuthbert?" asked the minister, stopping at the same
"All but well, sir. Doctor Mayhew don't mean to come again. It's all
along of them nourishments that Miss Ellen sent us down. The Doctor says
he must have died without them."
"Well, Cuthbert, I trust that we shall find you grateful."
"Grateful, sir!" exclaimed the man. "If ever I forget what you have done
for that poor child, I hope the breath----" The brawny fisherman could
say no more. His eyes filled suddenly with tears, and he held down his
head, ashamed of them. He had no cause to be so.
"Be honest and industrious, Cuthbert; give that boy a good example.
Teach him to love his God, and his neighbour as himself. That will be
gratitude enough, and more than pay Miss Ellen."
"I'll try to do it, sir. God bless you!"
We said little till we reached the parsonage again; but before I
re-entered its gate the Reverend Walter Fairman had risen in my esteem,
and ceased to be considered a cold and unfeeling man.
We dined; the party consisting of the incumbent, the six students, and
myself. The daughter, the only daughter and child of Mr Fairman, who was
himself a widower, had not returned from the cottage to which she had
been called in the morning. It was necessary that a female should be in
constant attendance upon the aged invalid; a messenger had been
despatched to the neighbouring village for an experienced nurse; and
until her arrival Miss Fairman would permit no one but herself to
undertake the duties of the sick chamber. It was on this account that we
were deprived of the pleasure of her society, for her accustomed seat
was at the head of her father's table. I was pleased with the pupils.
They were affable and well-bred. They treated the incumbent with marked
respect, and behaved towards their new teacher with the generous
kindness and freedom of true young gentlemen. The two eldest boys might
be fifteen years of age. The remaining four could not have reached their
thirteenth year. In the afternoon I had the scholars to myself. The
incumbent retired to his library, and left us to pass our first day in
removing the restraint that was the natural accompaniment of our
different positions, and in securing our intimacy. I talked of the
scenery, and found willing listeners. They understood me better than
their master, for they were worshippers themselves. They promised to
show me lovelier spots than any I had met with yet; sacred corners,
known only to themselves, down by the sea, where the arbute and
laurustinus grew like trees, and children of the ocean. Then there were
villages near, more beautiful even than their own; one that lay in the
lap of a large hill, with the sea creeping round, or rolling at its feet
like thunder, sometimes. What lanes, too, Miss Fairman knew of! She
would take me into places worth the looking at; and oh, what drawings
she had made from them! Their sisters had bought drawings, and paid very
dearly for them too, that were not half so finely done! They would ask
her to show me her portfolio, and she would do it directly, for she was
the kindest creature living. It was not the worst trait in the
disposition of these boys, that, whatever might be the subject of
conversation, or from whatever point we might start in our discourse,
they found pleasure in making all things bear towards the honour and
renown of their young mistress. The scenery was nothing without Miss
Fairman and her sketches. The house was dull without her, and the
singing in the church, if she were ill and absent, was as different as
could be. There were the sweetest birds that could be, heard warbling in
the high trees that lined the narrow roads; but at Miss Fairman's window
there was a nightingale that beat them all. The day wore on, and I did
not see the general favourite. It was dusk when she reached the
parsonage, and then she retired immediately to rest, tired from the
labours of the day. The friend of the family, Doctor Mayhew, had
accompanied Miss Fairman home; he remained with the incumbent, and I
continued with my young companions until their bedtime. They departed,
leaving me their books, and then I took a survey of the work that was
before me. My duties were to commence on the following day, and our
first subject was the tragedy of _Hecuba_. How very grateful did I feel
for the sound instruction which I had received in early life from my
revered pains-taking tutor, for the solid groundwork that he had
established, and for the rational mode of tuition which he had from the
first adopted. From the moment that he undertook to cultivate and inform
the youthful intellect, this became itself an active instrument in the
attainment of knowledge--not, as is so often the case, the mere idle
depositary of encumbering _words_. It was little that he required to be
gained by rote, for he regarded all acquisitions as useless in which the
understanding had not the chiefest share. He was pleased to communicate
facts, and anxious to discover, from examination, that the principles
which they contained had been accurately seen and understood. Then no
labour and perseverance on his part were deemed too great for his pupil,
and the business of his life became his first pleasure. In the study of
Greek, for which at an early age I evinced great aptitude, I learnt the
structure of the language and its laws from the keen observations of my
master, whose rules were drawn from the classic work before us--rather
than from grammars. To this hour I retain the information thus obtained,
and at no period of my life have I ever had greater cause for
thankfulness, than when, after many months of idleness and neglect, with
a view to purchase bread I opened, not without anxiety, my book again,
and found that time had not impaired my knowledge, and that light shone
brightly on the pages, as it did of old. Towards the close of the
evening, I was invited to the study of Mr Fairman. Doctor Mayhew was
still with him, and I was introduced to the physician as the teacher
newly arrived from London. The doctor was a stout good-humoured
gentleman of the middle height, with a cheerful and healthy-looking
countenance. He was, in truth, a jovial man, as well as a great
snuff-taker. The incumbent offered me a chair, and placed a decanter of
wine before me. His own glass of port was untouched, and he looked
serious and dejected.
"Well, sir, how does London look?" enquired the doctor, "are the folks
as mad as they used to be? What new invention is the rage now? What
bubble is going to burst? What lord committed forgery last? Who was the
last woman murdered before you started?"
I confessed my inability to answer.
"Well, never mind. There isn't much lost. I am almost ashamed of old
England, that's the truth on't. I have given over reading the
newspapers, for they are about as full of horrors as Miss
What's-her-name's tales of the Infernals. What an age this is! all crime
and fanaticism! Everyman and everything is on the rush. Come, Fairman,
take your wine."
Mr Fairman sat gazing on the fire, quietly, and took no notice of the
request. "People's heads," continued the medical gentleman, "seem turned
topsy-turvy. Dear me, how different it was in my time! What men are
about, I can't think. The very last newspaper I read had an
advertisement that I should as soon have expected to see there when my
father was alive, as a ship sailing along this coast keel upwards. You
saw it, Fairman. It was just under the Everlasting Life Pill
advertisement; and announced that the Reverend Mr Somebody would preach
on the Sunday following, at some conventicle, when the public were
invited to listen to him--and that the doors would be opened half an
hour earlier than usual to prevent squeezing. That's modern religion,
and it looks as much like ancient play-acting as two peas. Where will
these marching days of improvement bring us to at last?"
"Tell me, Mayhew," said Mr Fairman, "does it not surprise you that a
girl of her age should be so easily fatigued?"
"My dear friend, that makes the sixth time of asking. Let us hope that
it will be the last. I don't know what you mean by '_so easily_'
fatigued. The poor girl has been in the village all day, fomenting and
poulticing old Mrs Barnes, and if it had been any girl but herself, she
would have been tired out long before. Make your mind easy. I have sent
the naughty puss to bed, and she'll be as fresh as a rose in the
"She must keep her exertions within proper bounds," continued the
incumbent. "I am sure she has not strength enough to carry out her good
intentions. I have watched her narrowly, and cannot be mistaken."
"You do wrong, then, Fairman. Anxious watching creates fear, without the
shadow of an excuse for it. When we have anything like a bad symptom, it
is time to get uneasy."
"Yes, but what do you call a bad symptom, Doctor?"
"Why, I call your worrying yourself into fidgets, and teazing me into an
ill temper, a shocking symptom of bad behaviour. If it continue, you
must take a doze. Come, my friend, let me prescribe that glass of good
old port. It does credit to the cloth."
"Seriously, Mayhew, have you never noticed the short, hacking cough that
sometimes troubles her?"
"Yes; I noticed it last January for the space of one week, when there
was not a person within ten miles of you who was not either hacking, as
you call it, or blowing his nose from morning till night. The dear child
had a cold, and so had you, and I, and everybody else."
"And that sudden flush, too?"
"Why, you'll be complaining of the bloom on the peach next! That's
health, and nothing else, take my word for it."
"I am, perhaps, morbidly apprehensive; but I cannot forget her poor
mother. You attended her, Mayhew, and you know how suddenly that came
upon us. Poor Ellen! what should I do without her!"
"Fairman, join me in wishing success to our young friend here. Mr
Stukely, here's your good health; and success and happiness attend you.
You'll find little society here; but it is of the right sort, I can tell
you. You must make yourself at home." The minister became more cheerful,
and an hour passed in pleasant conversation. At ten o'clock, the horse
of Doctor Mayhew was brought to the gate, and the gentleman departed in
great good-humour. Almost immediately afterwards, the incumbent himself
conducted me to my sleeping apartment, and I was not loth to get my
rest. I fell asleep with the beautiful village floating before my weary
eyes, and the first day of my residence at the parsonage closed
peacefully upon me.
It was at the breakfast table on the succeeding morning that I beheld
the daughter of the incumbent, the favourite and companion of my pupils,
and mistress of the house--a maiden in her twentieth year. She was
simply and artlessly attired, gentle and retiring in demeanour, and
femininely sweet rather than beautiful in expression. Her figure was
slender, her voice soft and musical; her hair light brown, and worn
plain across a forehead white as marble. The eye-brows which arched the
small, rich, hazel eyes were delicately drawn, and the slightly aquiline
nose might have formed a study for an artist. With the exception,
however, of this last-named feature, there was little in the individual
lineaments of the face to surprise or rivet the observer. Extreme
simplicity, and perfect innocence--these were stamped upon the
countenance, and were its charm. It was a strange feeling that possessed
me when I first gazed upon her through the chaste atmosphere that dwelt
around her. It was degradation deep and unaffected--a sense of shame and
undeservedness. I remembered with self-abhorrence the relation that had
existed between the unhappy Emma and myself, and the enormity and
disgrace of my offence never looked so great as now, and here--in the
bright presence of unconscious purity. She reassured and welcomed me
with a natural smile, and pursued her occupation with quiet cheerfulness
and unconstraint. I did not wonder that her father loved her, and
entertained the thought of losing her with fear; for, young and gentle
as she was, she evinced wisdom and age in her deep sense of duty, and in
the government of her happy home. Method and order waited on her doings,
and sweetness and tranquillity--the ease and dignity of a matron
elevating and upholding the maiden's native modesty. And did she not
love her sire as ardently? Yes, if her virgin soul spoke faithfully in
every movement of her guileless face. Yes, if there be truth in tones
that strike the heart to thrill it--in thoughts that write their meaning
in the watchful eye, in words that issue straight from the fount of
love, in acts that do not bear one shade of selfish purpose. It was not
a labour of time to learn that the existence of the child, her peace and
happiness, were merged in those of the fond parent. He was every thing
to her, as she to him. She had no brother--he no wife: these natural
channels of affection cut away, the stream was strong and deep that
flowed into each other's hearts. My first interview with the young lady
was necessarily limited. I would gladly have prolonged it. The morning
was passed with my pupils, and my mind stole often from the work before
me to dwell upon the face and form of her, whom, as a sister, I could
have doated on and cherished. How happy I should have been, I deemed, if
I had been so blessed. Useless reflection! and yet pleased was I to
dwell upon it, and to welcome its return, as often as it recurred. At
dinner we met again. To be admitted into her presence seemed the reward
for my morning toil--a privilege rather than a right. What labour was
too great for the advantage of such moments?--moments indeed they were,
and less--flashes of time, that were not here before they had
disappeared. We exchanged but few words. I was still oppressed with the
conviction of my own unworthiness, and wondered if she could read in my
burning face the history of shame. How she must avoid and despise me,
thought I, when she has discovered all, and how bold and wicked it was
to darken the light in which she lived with the guilt that was a part of
me! Not the less did I experience this when she spoke to me with
kindness and unreserve. The feeling grew in strength. I was conscious of
deceit and fraud, and could not shake the knowledge off. I was taking
mean advantage of her confidence, assuming a character to which I had no
claim, and listening to the accents of innocence and virtue with the
equanimity of one good and spotless as herself. In the afternoon the
young students resumed their work. When it was over, we strolled amongst
the hills; and, at the close of a delightful walk, found ourselves in
the enchanting village. Here we encountered Miss Fairman and the
incumbent, and we returned home in company. In one short hour we reached
it. How many hours have passed since _that_ was ravished from the hand
of Time, and registered in the tenacious memory! Years have floated by,
and silently have dropped into the boundless sea, unheeded, unregretted;
and these few minutes--sacred relics--live and linger in the world, in
mercy it may be, to lighten up my lonely hearth, or save the whitened
head from drooping. The spirit of one golden hour shall hover through a
life, and shed glory where he falls. What are the unfruitful,
unremembered years that rush along, frightening mortality with their
fatal speed--an instant in eternity! What are the moments loaded with
passion, intense, and never-dying--years, ages upon earth! Away with the
divisions of time, whilst one short breath--the smallest particle or
measure of duration, shall outweigh ages. Breathless and silent is the
dewy eve. Trailing a host of glittering clouds behind him, the sun
stalks down, and leaves the emerald hills in deeper green. The lambs are
skipping on the path--the shepherd as loth to lead them home as they to
go. The labourer has done his work, and whistles his way back. The
minister has much of good and wise to say to his young family. They hear
the business of the day; their guardian draws the moral, and bids them
think it over. Upon my arm I bear his child, the fairest object of the
twilight group. She tells me histories of this charmed spot, and the
good old tales that are as old as the gray church beneath us: she
smiles, and speaks of joys amongst the hills, ignorant of the tearful
eye and throbbing heart beside her, that overflow with new-found bliss,
and cannot bear their weight of happiness.
Another day of natural gladness--and then the Sabbath; this not less
cheerful and inspiriting than the preceding. The sun shone fair upon the
ancient church, and made its venerable gray stones sparkle and look
young again. The dark-green ivy that for many a year has clung there,
looked no longer sad and sombre, but gay and lively as the newest of the
new-born leaves that smiled on every tree. The inhabitants of the
secluded village were already a-foot when we proceeded from the
parsonage, and men and women from adjacent villages were on the road to
join them. The deep-toned bell pealed solemnly, and sanctified the vale;
for its sound strikes deeply ever on the broad ear of nature. Willows
and yew-trees shelter the graves of the departed villagers, and the
living wend their way beneath them, subdued to seriousness, it may be,
by the breathless voice that dwells in every well-remembered mound.
There is not one who does not carry on his brow the thoughts that best
become it now. All are well dressed, all look cleanly and contented. The
children are with their parents, their natural and best instructors.
Whom should they love so well? To whom is honour due if not to them? The
village owns no school to disannul the tie of blood, to warp and weaken
the affection that holds them well together.
All was quietness and decorum in the house of prayer. Every earnest eye
was fixed, not upon Mr Fairman, but on the book from which the people
prayed, in which they found their own good thoughts portrayed, their
pious wishes told, their sorrow and repentance in clearest form
described. Every humble penitent was on his knees. With one voice, loud
and heartfelt, came the responses which spoke the people's acquiescence
in all the pastor urged and prayed on their behalf. The worship over, Mr
Fairman addressed his congregation, selecting his subject from the
lesson of the day, and fitting his words to the capacities of those who
listened. Let me particularly note, that whilst the incumbent pointed
distinctly to the cross as the only ground of a sinner's hope, he
insisted upon good works as the necessary and essential accompaniment of
his faith. "Do not tell me, my dear friends," he said, at the conclusion
of his address--"do not tell me that you believe, if your daily life is
unworthy a believer. I will not trust you. What is your belief, if your
heart is busy in contrivances to overreach your neighbour? What is it,
if your mind is filled with envy, malice, hatred, and revenge? What if
you are given over to disgraceful lusts--to drunkenness and debauchery?
What if you are ashamed to speak the truth, and are willing to become a
liar? I tell you, and I have warrant for what I say, that your conduct
one towards another must be straightforward, honest, generous, kind, and
affectionate, or you cannot be in a safe and happy state. You owe it to
yourselves to be so; for if you are poor and labouring men, you have an
immortal soul within you, and it is your greatest ornament. It is that
which gives the meanest of us a dignity that no earthly honours can
supply; a dignity that it becomes the first and last of us by every
means to cherish and support. Is it not, my friends, degrading, fearful
to know that we bear about with us the very image of our God, and that
we are acting worse than the very brutes of the field? Do yourselves
justice. Be pure--pure in mind and body. Be honest, in word and deed. Be
loving to one another. Crush every wish to do evil, or to speak harshly;
be brothers, and feel that you are working out the wishes of a
benevolent and loving Father, who has created you for love, and smiles
upon you when you do his bidding." There was more to this effect, but
nothing need be added to explain the scope and tendency of his
discourse. His congregation could not mistake his meaning; they could
not fail to profit by it, if reason was not proof against the soundest
argument. As quietly as, and, if it be possible, more seriously than,
they entered the church, did the small band of worshippers, at the close
of the service, retire from it. Could it be my fancy, or did the wife in
truth cling closer to her husband--the father clasp his little boy more
firmly in his hand? Did neighbour nod to neighbour more eagerly as they
parted at the churchyard gate--did every look and movement of the many
groups bespeak a spirit touched, a mind reproved? I may not say so, for
my own heart was melted by the scene, and might mislead my judgment.
There was a second service in the afternoon. This concluded, we walked
to the sea-beach. In the evening Mr Fairman related a connected history
from the Old Testament, whilst the pupils tracked his progress on their
maps, and the narrative became a living thing in their remembrances.
Serious conversation then succeeded; to this a simple prayer, and the
day closed, sweetly and calmly, as a day might close in Paradise.
The events of the following month partook of the character of those
already glanced at. The minister was unremitting in his attendance upon
his parishioners, and no day passed during which something had not been
accomplished for their spiritual improvement or worldly comfort. His
loving daughter was a handmaid at his side, ministering with him, and
shedding sunshine where she came. The villagers were frugal and
industrious; and seemed, for the most part, sensible of their
incumbent's untiring efforts. Improvement appeared even in the cottage
of the desperate Warden. Mr Fairman obtained employment for him. For a
fortnight he had attended to it, and no complaint had reached the
parsonage of misbehaviour. His wife had learned to bear her imagined
wrongs in silence, and could even submit to a visit from her best friend
without insulting him for the condescension. My own days passed smoothly
on. My occupation grew every day more pleasing, and the results of my
endeavours as gratifying as I could wish them. My pupils were attached
to me, and I beheld them improving gradually and securely under their
instruction. Mr Fairman, who, for a week together, had witnessed the
course of my tuition, and watched it narrowly, was pleased to express
his approbation in the warmest terms. Much of the coldness with which I
thought he had at first encountered me disappeared, and his manner grew
daily more friendly and confiding. His treatment was most generous. He
received me into the bosom of his family as a son, and strove to render
his fair habitation my genuine and natural home.
Another month passed by, and the colour and tone of my existence had
suffered a momentous change. In the acquirement of a fearful joy, I had
lost all joy. In rendering every moment of my life blissful and
ecstatic, I had robbed myself of all felicity. A few weeks before, and
my state of being had realized a serenity that defied all causes of
perturbation and disquiet. Now it was a sea of agitation and disorder;
and a breath, a nothing had brought the restless waves upon the quiet
surface. Through the kindness of Mr Fairman, my evenings had been almost
invariably passed in the society of himself and his daughter. The lads
were early risers, and retired, on that account, at a very early hour to
rest. Upon their dismission, I had been requested to join the company in
the drawing-room. This company included sometimes Doctor Mayhew, the
neighbouring squire, or a chance visitor, but consisted oftenest only of
the incumbent and his daughter. Aware of the friendly motive which
suggested the request, I obeyed it with alacrity. On these occasions,
Miss Fairman used her pencil, whilst I read aloud; or she would ply her
needle, and soothe at intervals her father's ear with strains of music,
which he, for many reasons, loved to hear. Once or twice the incumbent
had been called away, and his child and I were left together. I had no
reason to be silent whilst the good minister was present, yet I found
that I could speak more confidently and better when he was absent. We
conversed with freedom and unrestraint. I found the maiden's mind well
stored--her voice was not more sweet than was her understanding clear
and cloudless. Books had been her joy, which, in the season of
suffering, had been my consolation. They were a common source of
pleasure. She spoke of them with feeling, and I could understand her. I
regarded her with deep unfeigned respect; but, the evening over, I took
my leave, as I had come--in peace. Miss Fairman left the parsonage to
pay a two-days' visit at a house in the vicinity. Until the evening of
the first day I was not sensible of her absence. It was then, and at the
customary hour of our reunion, that, for the first time, I experienced,
with alarm, a sense of loneliness and desertion--that I became
tremblingly conscious of the secret growth of an affection that had
waited only for the time and circumstance to make its presence and its
power known and dreaded. In the daily enjoyment of her society, I had
not estimated its influence and value. Once denied it, and I dared not
acknowledge to myself how precious it had become, how silently and
fatally it had wrought upon my heart. The impropriety and folly of
self-indulgence were at once apparent--yes, the vanity and
wickedness--and, startled by what looked like guilt, I determined
manfully to rise superior to temptation. I took refuge in my books; they
lacked their usual interest, were ineffectual in reducing the ruffled
mind to order. I rose and paced my room, but I could not escape from
agitating thought. I sought the minister in his study, and hoped to
bring myself to calm and reason by dwelling seriously on the business of
the day--with him, the father of the lady, and _my master_. He was not
there. He had left the parsonage with Doctor Mayhew an hour before. I
walked into the open air restless and unhappy, relying on the freshness
and repose of night to be subdued and comforted. It was a night to
soften anger--to conquer envy--to destroy revenge--beautiful and bright.
The hills were bathed in liquid silvery light, and on their heights, and
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