ページの画像
PDF
ePub

tree-but they caw not in their hun substance-or “ dim suffusion veils" ger. Neither sheep nor cattle are to it with some faint discolour-witness be seen or heard--but they are cared even the leaf of the lily or the rose. for-the folds and the farm-yards are Heaven forbid that we should ever all full of life—and the ungathered breathe aught but love and delight stragglers are safe in their instincts. in the beauty of these consummate -There has been a deep fall flowers ! But feels not the heart, even but nostorm-and the silence, though when the midsummer morning sunpartly that of suffering, is not that shine is melting the dews on their of death. Therefore, to the ima- fragrant bosoms, that their loveliness gination, unsaddened by the heart, is “ of the earth earthy”—faintly the repose is beautiful. The almost

tinged or streaked, when at the very unbroken uniformity of the scene fairest, with a hue foreboding lanits simple and grand monotony-lulls guishment and decay? Not the less all the thoughts and feelings into a for its sake are those soulless flowers calm, over which is breathed the dear to us -thus owning kindred gentle excitation of a novel charm, with them whose beauty is all soul, inspiring many fancies, all of a quiet character. Their range, perhaps, is

« Oh, call it fair, not pale!" not very extensive, but they all re enshrined for a short while on that gard the homefelt and domestic cha- perishable face! Do we not still rerities of life. And the heart burns gard these insensate flowers-so emas here and there some human dwell blematical of what, in human life, we ing discovers itself by a wreath of do most passionately love and prosmoke up the air, or as the robin foundly pity-with a pensive emoredbreast, a creature that is ever at tion, often deepening into melanhand, comes flitting before your path, choly, that sometimes, ere the strong with an almost pert flutter of his fit subsides, blackens into despair! feathers, bold from the acquaintance: Oh! what pain doubtless was in the ship he has formed with you in se heart of the Elegiac Poet of old, verer weather at the threshold or when he sighed over the transitory window of the tenement, which, for beauty of flowers,—" Quam brevis years, may have been the winter-gratia Florum!" —an imperfect resanctuary of the “ bird whom man

membrance of a beautiful lament! loves best,” and who bears a Christ. But over a perfectly pure expanse of ian name in every clime he inhabits. night-fallen snow, when, unaffected Meanwhile the sun waxes brighter by the gentle sun, the first fine frost and warmer in heaven-some insects has incrusted it with small sparkling are in the air, as if that moment diamonds, the prevalent emotion is called to life—and the mosses that Joy. So Cowper felt, when he simply may yet be visible here and there said, along the ridge of a wall or on the

" The vault is blue, stem of a tree, in variegated lustre

Without a cloud, and white without a frost-brightened, seem to delight in the snow, and in no other season of The dazzling splendour of the scene be

speck the year to be so happy as in winter.

low.” Such gentle touches of pleasure animate one's whole being, and connect,

There is a charm in the sudden by many fine associations, the emo- and total disappearance even of the tions inspired by the objects of ani- grassy green. All the “ old familiar mate and inanimate nature, even

faces of nature are for a while out sometimes giving to them all of sight, and out of mind. That white

silence shed by heaven over earth “ The glory and the freshness of a

carries with it, far and wide, the pure dream!"

peace of another region-almost anPonder on the idea-the emotion other life. No image is there to tell of purity-and how finely soul-blent of this restless and noisy world. The is the delight imagination feels in cheerfulness of reality kindles up a bright hush of new.fallen snow! our reverie ere it becomes a dream; Some speck or stain-however slight and we are glad to feel our whole there always seems to be on the being complexioned by the passionmost perfect whiteness of any other less repose. If we think at all of

human life, it is only of the young reason, and their eyes look happy, the fair, and the innocent. « Pure just like the thoughtless flowers. So as snow," are words then felt to be unlike all other children-but unlike most holy, as the image of some only because sooner than they-she beautiful and beloved being comes seemed to have had given to her~ and goes before our eyes-brought even in the communion of the cradle from a far distance in this our living -an intimation of the being and the world, or from a distance-far, far, providence of God. Sooner, surely, farther still—in the world beyond than through any other clay that ever the grave--the image of virgin grow- enshrouded immortal spirit, dawned ing up sinlessly to womanhood among the light of reason and of religion her parents' prayers, or of some spi on the face of the “ Holy Child." ritual creature who expired long ago, Her lisping language was sprinkled and carried with her her native inno with words alien from common cence unstained to heaven.

childhood's uncertain speech, that Such Spiritual Creature—too spi- murmurs only when indigent naritual long to sojourn below the skies ture prompts ;—and her own parents - wert Thou whose rising and wondered whence they came in her whose setting—both most starlike, simplicity, when first they looked brightened at once all thy native

upon her kneeling in an unbidden vale, and at once left it in darkness. prayer. As one mild week of vernal

Thy name has long slept in our heart sunshine covers the braes with primand there let it sleep unbreathed roses, so shone with fair and fragrant

-even as, when we are dreaming feelings-unfolded, ere they knew, our way through some solitary place, before her parents' eyes—the divine without speaking we bless the beau- nature of her who, for a season, was ty of some sweet wild-flower, pen- lent to them from the skies. She sively smiling to us through the learned to read out of the Biblesnow!

almost without any teaching-they The Sabbath returns on which, in knew not how—just by looking gladthe little kirk among the hills, we ly on the words, even as she looked saw thee baptized. Then comes a on the pretty daisies on the greenwavering glimmer of seven sweet till their meanings stole insensibly years, that to Thee, in all their va into ber soul, and the sweet syllables, rieties, were but as one delightful succeeding each other on the blessed season, one blessed life-and, finally, page, were all united by the memothat other Sabbath, on which, at thy ries her heart had been treasuring own dying request-between ser every hour that her father or her movices thou wert buried !

ther bad read aloud in her hearing How mysterious are all thy ways from the Book of Life. “ Suffer litand workings, O gracious Nature! tle children to come unto me and Thou who art but a name given by forbid them not, for of such is the our souls, seeing and hearing through kingdom of Heaven”-how wept her the senses, to the Being in whom all parents, as these the most affecting things are and have life! Ere two of our Saviour's words dropt silveryears old, she, whose dream is now sweet from her lips, and continued with us, all over the small silvan in her upward eyes among the swimworld, that beheld the revelation, ming tears ! how evanescent! of her pure exist Be not incredulous of this dawn ence-was called the “Holy Child !” of reason, wonderful as it may seem The taint of sin-inherited from to you, so soon becoming morn-althose who disobeyed in Paradise- most perfect daylight — with the seemed from her fair clay to bave "Holy Child.” Many such miracles been washed out at the baptismal are set before us—but we recognise font, and by her first infantine tears. them not, or pass them by, with a word So pious people almost believed, or a smile of short surprise. How looking on her so uulike all other leaps the baby in its mother's arms, children, in the serenity of that when the mysterious charm of music habitual smile that clothed the crea- thrills through its little brain! And ture's countenance with a wondrous how learns it to modulate its feeble beauty, at an age when on other in- voice, unable yet to articulate, to the fants is but faintly seen the dawn of melodjes that bring forth all round

its eyes a delighted smile! Who the yellow broom, almost within knows what then may be the thoughts reach of the spray from which he and feelings of the infant awakened poured his melody--the quiet eyes to the sense of a new world, alive of his mate feared her not when her through all its being to sounds that garments almost touched the bush haply glide past our ears, unmean- where she brooded on her young. ing as the breath of the common air! Shyest of the winged silvans, the Thus have mere infants sometimes cushat clapped not her wings away been seen inspired by music, till on the soft approach of her harmlike small genii they warbled spell- less footsteps to the pine that constrains of their own, powerful to cealed her slender nest. As if sadden and subdue our hearts. So, blown from heaven, descended round too, have infant eyes been so charm- her path the showers of the painted by the rainbow irradiating the ed butterflies, to feed, sleep, or die earth, that almost infant hands have —undisturbed by her-upon the been taught, as if by inspiration, the wild flowers- with wings, when power to paint in finest colours, and motionless, undistinguishable from to imitate with a wondrous art, the the blossoms. And well she loved skies so beautiful to the quick- the brown, busy, blameless bees, awakened spirit of delight. What come thither for the honey-dews knowledge have not some children from a hundred cots sprinkled all acquired, and gone down scholars to over the parish, and all high overtheir small untimely graves! Know- head sailing away at evening, laden ing that such things have been—are and wearied, to their straw-roofed --and will be-why art thou incre- skeps in many a hamlet garden. The dulous of the divine expansion of leaf of every tree, shrub, and plant, soul--80 soon understanding the she knew familiarly and lovingly in things that are divine-in the "Holy its own characteristic beauty; and Child ?"

was loath to shake one dew-drop from Thus grew she in the eye of God, the sweetbrier-rose. And well she day by day waxing wiser and wiser knew that all nature loved her in in the knowledge that tends towards return—that they were dear to each the skies, and as if some angel visit- other in their innocence—and that ant were nightly with ber in her the very sunshine, in motion or in dreams, awakening every morn with rest, was ready to come at the bida new dream of thought that brought ding of her smiles. Skilful those with it a gift of more comprehen- small white hands of hers among sive speech. Yet merry she was at the reeds and rushes and osiers times with her companions among the and many a pretty flower-basket woods and braes, though wbile they grew beneath their touch, her paall were laughing, she only smiled; rents wondering on their return and the passing traveller, who might home to see the handiwork of one pause a moment to bless the sweet who was never idle in her happicreatures in their play, could not but ness. Thus early-ere yet but five single out one face among the many years old—did she earn her mite for fair, so pensive in its paleness, a face the sustenance of her own beautiful to be remembered, coming from afar, life! The russet garb she wore she like a mournful thought upon the herself had won—and thus Poverty, hour of joy!

at the door of that but, became even Sister or brother of her own had like a Guardian Angel, with the lineashe none—and

often both her parents ments of heaven on her brow, and - who lived in a hut by itself up the quietude of heaven beneath her among the mossy stumps of the old feet. decayed forest—had to leave her But these were but her lonely alone-sometimes even all the day pastimes, or gentle task-work selflong from morning till night. But imposed among her pastimes; and she no more wearied in ber solitari- itself, the sweetest of them all, inspiness than does the wren in the wood. red by a sense of duty, that still All the flowers were her friends—all brings with it its own delight-and the birds. The linnet ceased not his hallowed by religion, that even in scng for her, though her footsteps the most adverse lot changes slavery wandered into the green glade among into freedom-till the heart, insensi.

ble to the bonds of necessity, sings even like angelic harmony blent with aloud for joy. The life within the a mortal song. But sleeping, still life of the Holy Child," apart from more sweetly sang the “Holy Child;" even such innocent employments as and then, too, in some diviner inspithese, and from such recreations as ration than ever was granted to it innocent, among the shadows and while awake, her soul composed its the sunshine of those silvan haunts, own hymns, and set the simple scripwas passed, let us fear not to say the tural words to its own mysterious truth, wondrous as such worship was music—the tunes she loved best gliin one so very young-was passed in ding into one another, without once the worship of God; and her parents ever marring the melody, with pa—though sometimes even saddened thetic touches interposed never heard to see such piety in a small creature before, and never more to be renewlike her, and afraid, in their exceed ed! For each dream had its own ing love, that it betokened an early breathing, and many-visioned did removal from this world of one too then seem to be the sinless creature's perfectly pure ever to be touched by sleep! its sins and sorrows-forbore, in an The love that was borne for her, awful pity, ever to remove the Bi all over the hill-region, and beyond ble from her knees, as she would sit its circling clouds, was almost such with it there, not at morning and at as mortal creatures might be thought evening only, or all the Sabbath long to feel for some existence that had as soon as they returned from the visibly come from heaven! Yet all kirk, but often through all the hours of who looked on her, saw that she, like the longest and sunniest week-days, themselves, was mortal, and many when there was nothing to hinder an eye was wet, the heart wist not her from going up to the hill-side, why, to hear such wisdom falling or down to the little village, to play from her lips; for dimly did it progwith the other children, always too nosticate, that as short as bright happy when she appeared—nothing would be her walk from the cradle to hinder her but the voice she heard to the grave. And thus for the “Holy speaking in that Book, and the hal Child” was their love elevated by lelujahs that, at the turning over of awe, and saddened by pity-and as each blessed page, came upon the by herself she passed pensively by ear of the “ Holy Child” from white their dwellings, the same eyes that robed saints all kneeling before His smiled on her presence, on her disthrone in heaven!

appearance wept ! Her life seemed to be the same in Not in vain for others and for sleep. Often at midnight, by the herself, oh! what great gain !-for light of the moon shining in upon her these few years on earth, did that little bed beside theirs, her parents pure spirit ponder on the word of leant over her face, diviner in dreams, God! Other children became pious and wept as she wept, her lips all from their delight in her piety-for the while murmuring, in broken sen she was simple as the simplest among tences of prayer, the name of Him them all, and walked with them hand who died for us all. But plenteous in hand, nor spurned companionship as were her penitential tears—peni- with any one that was good. But tential, in the holy humbleness of her all grew good by being with herstainless spirit,over thoughts that had and parents had but to whisper her never left a dimming breath on its name—and in a moment the pas. purity, yet that seemed, in those sionate sob was hushed-the lowerstrange visitings, to be haunting her as ing brow lighted—and the household the shadows of sins-soon were they in peace. Older hearts owned the all dried up in the lustre of her re- power of the piety, so far surpassing turning smiles ! Waking, her voice their thoughts ; and time-hardened in the kirk was the sweetest among sinners, it is said, when looking and many sweet, as all the young singers, listening to the “ Holy Child,” knew and she the youngest far, sat together the errors of their ways, and returnby themselves, and within the con ed to the right path, as at a voice gregational music of the psalm, up- from heaven. lifted a silvery strain that sounded Bright was her seventh summerlike the very spirit of the whole, the brightest, so the aged said, that

had ever, in man's memory, shone was upon her, although her eyes soon over Scotland. One long, still, sunny, became brighter and brighter, they blue day followed another, and in thought, than they had ever been be. the rainless weather, though the dews fore. But forehead, cheeks, lips, kept green the hills, the song of the neck, and breast, were all as white, streams was low. But paler and and, to the quivering hands that paler, in sunlight and moonlight, be touched them, almost as cold, as snow. came the sweet face that had been Ineffable was the bliss in those raalways pale ; and the voice that had diant eyes; but the breath of words been always something mournful, was frozen, and that hymn was almost breathed lower and sadder still from her last farewell. Some few words the too perfect whiteness of her she spake-and named the hour and breast. No need-no fear-to tell day she wished to be buried. Her her that she was about to die ! Sweet lips could then just faintly return whispers had sung it to her in her the kiss and no more-a film came sleep-and waking she knew it in over the now dim blue of her the look of the piteous skies. But eyes—the father listened for her she spoke not to her parents of breath—and then the mother took death more than she had often done his place, and leaned her ear to the --and never of her own. Only she unbreathing mouth, long deluding seemed to love them with a more herself with its lifelike smile; but a exceeding love-and was readier, sudden darkness in the room, and a even sometimes when no one was sudden stillness, most dreadful both, speaking, with a few drops of tears. convinced their unbelieving hearts Sometimes she disappeared - nor, at last, that it was death. when sought for, was found in the All the parish, it may be said, atwoods about the hut. And one day

tended her funeral—for none staid that mystery was cleared; for a away from the kirk that Sabbathshepherd saw her sitting by herself though many a voice was unable to on a grassy mound in a nook of the join in the Psalm. The little grave small solitary kirkyard, miles off was soon filled up-and you hardly among the hills, so lost in reading knew that the turf had been disturb. the Bible, that shadow or sound of ed beneath which she lay. The afhis feet awoke her not; and, igno ternoon service consisted but of a rant of his presence, she knelt down prayer-for he who ministered, had and prayed--for a while weeping loved her with love unspeakablebitterly—but soon comforted by a and though an old grey-haired man, heavenly calm-that her sins might all the time he prayed he wept. In be forgiven her!

the sobbing kirk her parents were One Sabbath evening, soon after, sitting-but no one looked at them as she was sitting beside her pa- —and when the congregation rose to rents at the door of their hut, look go, there they remained sitting and ing first for a long while on their an hour afterwards, came out again faces, and then for a long while on into the open air, and parting with the sky, though it was not yet the their pastor at the gate, walked away stated hour of worship, she suddenly to their hut, overshadowed with the knelt down, and leaning on their blessing of a thousand prayers ! knees, with hands clasped more fer And did her parents, soon after she vently than her wont, she broke forth was buried, die of broken hearts, or into tremulous singing of that hymn, · pine away disconsolately to their which from her lips they now never graves ? Think not that they, who heard without unendurable tears : were Christians indeed, could be “ The hour of my departure's come,

guilty of such ingratitude. “ The

Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh I hear the voice that calls me home ;

away-blessed be the name of the At last, O Lord! let trouble cease,

Lord !” were the first words they had And let thy servant die in peace !"

spoke by that bedside; during many, They carried her fainting to her little many long years of weal or woe, duly bed, and uttered not a word to one every morning and night, these same another till she revived. The shock blessed words did they utter when on was sudden, but not unexpected, and their knees together in prayer-and they knew now that the hand of death many a thousand times besides, when

« 前へ次へ »