ページの画像
PDF
ePub

King of kings, and Lord of lords. Hallelujah! It was the musician Handel, the writer of the music for these words, who began this yearly celebration in the days of George the Third.

When all was over, I went and stood by the door outside. The children passed out by two and two, led by parish beadles who walked before with staves, and so they moved away down the London streets to their homes again. As I stood there I thought of one who had also seen these children and heard them sing years ago ; one who sang in his heart when their voices were lifted up, and who wrote afterward what he sang to himself. It was William Blake that wrote these words :

HOLY THURSDAY.

"Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean, Came children walking two and two, in red and blue and green ; Gray-headed beadles walked before, with wands as white as

snow,

Till into the high dome of Paul's they like Thames' waters

flow.

Oh what a multitude they seemed, these flowers of London

town, Seated in companies they were, with radiance all their own; The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs, Thousands of boys and girls raising their innocent hands.

Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song, Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among;

Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor : Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.

The children must be singing to-day. I do not see the churches; I do not hear the children playing in the street; I am under the dome of St. Paul's : a mighty Hallelujah is rising

HENS.

At Cacking-time. It is useless for me to pretend that I see hens from my city window-seat. There is not even a weathercock in sight, but my cushioned roost is just as much a place for me to see things from with my memory's eye, as with the real ones that wander out-doors and in, like hens themselves, picking up one object and another in an aimless sort of way and cackling over them. I remember a delightful evening when I was out driving by the banks of the Charles River, in Massachusetts. We came to a spot which was hemmed in behind a hill and bounded in front by the river, while on the side was a thick wood; the place was flat grassland, and looked like a small camp. It was, in fact, a camp of hens. Only the most venturesome ever strayed near the wood, and they had no wish to go into the river. A half dozen rude shanties stood together, and dozens of little coops lay scattered about. It was sundown, and the hens and crowers had all gone to roost, while those that had broods were

snugly housed in the coops. But the fariner obligingly went in, and routed out the sleepy fowls from their houses. It was a funny sight to see them come tumbling, cackling, and crowing out of the shanties, one after the other, each seemingly whiter than the last; for the wonder was there was not a black feather among them, and there were over two hundred old fellows and as many chickens : all were pure white, and the man had, at one time, five hundred perfectly white fowls. The whole company were clacking about as if waked out of dreams, strutting around in a bewildered manner.

The farmer showered corn among them, but they did not seem to pay much attention to that. They walked sleepiiy about, and at last, one by one, found their way back to their rogsts, where they went to sleep again; and, I have no doubt, to this day, such of them as live, talk over that time when, somehow, they had two days in one.

I have kņown several hens quite intimately, and some by reputation. One I have not heard of for some time, but it was living forty years ago on one leg, having lost the other by being run over, I think. It hopped about in a lively fashion, picking up a living, and seemed to be thought none the less of for being one

legged. A hen is a gentle-looking creature, and seems to be so foolish that if a carriage is coming along the road, she will scuttle across the road in front of it to get out of its way, instead of staying still where she is. But did you ever see a hen with a brood of chickens under her, - how she gathers them under her wings and will stay in the cold if she can only keep them warm, - and how she guards them so carefully that she is really fierce toward any one who tries to get her chicks away? I have seen this, and I have read, as, no doubt, some of you have, of One who loved men so, that when they would not come to Him for His blessing, He said, sadly, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not !” If the Saviour cap speak of the hen thus, I think we may be reminded of Him and His words by a great many things which we see constantly, — the wheat growing in the field, the doves that fly about the streets, the lambs that are on the hills, and the boat that rocks on the waves.

« 前へ次へ »