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FORGIVE US, thou most beautiful of mornings ! for having overslept the assignation hour, and allowed thee to remain all by thyself in the solitude, wondering why thy worshipper could prefer to thy presence the fairest phantoms that ever visited a dream. And thou hast forgiven usfor not clouds of displeasure these that have settled on thy sorehead—the unreproaching light of thy countenance is upon us-a loving murmur steals into our heart from thine-and pure and holy as a child's, or an angel's, daughter of Heaven ! is thy breath.
In the spirit of that invocation we look around us, and as the idea of morning dies, sufficient for our happiness is “the light of common day”-the imagery of common earth. There has been rain during the night-enough, and no more, to enliven the burn, and to brighten its banks—the mists are ascending composedly, with promise of gentle weather and the sun, so mild that we can look him in the face with unwinking eyes, gives assu. rance, that as he has risen, so will he reign, and so will he set in peace.
Yestreén we came into this glen at gloaming, -and rather felt than saw that it was beautiful-we lay down at dark, and let the moon and stars canopy our sleep. Therefore it is almost altogether new to us; yet so con
genial its quiet to the longings of our heart, that all at once it is familiar to us as if we had been sojourning here for many days—as if this cottage were indeed our dwelling-place—and we had retired hither to await the closing of our life. Were we never here before-in the olden and golden time? Those dips in the summits of the mountains seem to recall from oblivion memories of a morning all the same as this, enjoyed by us with a different joy, almost as if then we were a different being, joy then the very element in which we drew our breath, satisfied now to live in the atmosphere of sadness often thick. ened with grief. 'Tis thus that there grows a confusion among the past times in the dormitory-call it not the burial-place-overshadowed by sweet or solemn imagery in the inland regions of our soul: nor can we question the recollections as they rise-being ghosts, they are silent-their coming and their going alike a mysterybut sometimes-as now they are happy hauntings—and age is almost gladdened into illusion of returning youth.
'Tis a lovely little glen as in all the Highlands-yet we know not that a painter would see in it the subject of a picture-for the sprinklings of young trees seem to have been sown capriciously by nature, and there seems no reason why on that hillside, and not on any other, should survive the remains of an old wood. Among the multitude of knolls a few are eminent with rocks and shrubs, but there is no central assemblage, and the green wilderness wantons in such disorder that you might believe the pools there to be, not belonging as they are to the same running water, but each itself a small separate lakelet fed by its own spring. True, that above its homehills there are mountains-and these are cliffs on which the eagle might not disdain to build—but the range wheels away in its grandeur to face a loftier region, of which we see here but the summits swimming in the distant clouds.
God bless this hut! and have its inmates in his holy keeping! They are but few-an aged couple and their grandchild-a pretty creature and a good-and happy as a bird
Four or five hours' sleep is all we need. This night it was deep-and our thoughts, refreshed by its dew, have unfolded themselves of their own accord, along with the flowers around our feet. Ha! thou art up and singing, thou human fairy! Start not at the figure sitting beside the well—'tis he who read the chapter-and knelt along with thee and them at the evening prayer.
Set down thy pitcher, my chlld, and let us have a look at thy happiness—for though thou mayst wonder at our words, and think us a strange old man, coming and going, once and for ever, to thee and thine a shadow and no more, yet lean thy head towards us that we may lay our hands on it and bless it and promise, as thou art growing up here, sometimes to think of the voice that spake to thee by the Birk-tree-well. Love, fear, and serve God as the Bible teaches—and whatever happens thee, quake not, but put thy trust in Heaven.
Nay-weep not, though we know that thy father is dead, and that thou hast neither sister nor brother. Smile-laugh-sing--as thou wert doing a minute agoas thou hast done for many a morning--and shall do for many a morning more on thy way to the well-in the woods-on the braes—in the house-often all by thyself when the old people are out of doors not far off-or when sometimes they have for a whole day been from home out of the glen. Forget not our words and no evil can befall thee that may not, weak as thou art, be borne—and nothing wicked that is allowed to walk the earth, will ever be able to hurt a hair on thy head. My stars! what a lovely little animal !
tame fawn, by all that is wild-kneeling down-to drink-no-noat its lady's feet. The colley catched it, thou sayest, on the edge of the auld wood-and by the time its wounds were cured, it seemed to have forgot its mother, and soon learnt to follow thee about to far-off places quite out of sight of this and to play gamesome tricks like a creature born among human dwellings. What! it dances like a kid-does it-and sometimes you put a garland of wild flowers round its neck-and pursue it like a huntress, as it pretends to be making its escape into the forest !
Look, child, here is a pretty green purse for you, that opens and shuts with a spring-so-and in it there is a gold coin, called a sovereign, and a crooked sixpence. Don't blush-that was a grateful curtsey. Keep the
crooked sixpence for good luck, and you never will want. With the yellow fellow buy a Sunday gown and a pair of Sunday shoes, and what else you like; and now-you two lead the way--try a race to the door--and old Christopher North will carry the pitcher--balancing it on his head-thus--ha! The fawn has it, and, by a neck, has beat Camilla.
We shall breakfast ere we go--and breakfast well too, --for this is a poor man's, not a pauper's hut, and Heaven still grants his prayer_"give us this day our daily bread.” Sweeter--richer bannocks o' barley-meal never met the mouth of mortal man--nor more delicious butter. We salt it, sir, for a friend in Glasgow-but now and then we take a bite of the fresh--let me put another spoonful of sugar into your tea, sir--do oblige us a', sir, by eatin' as many eggs as you have a mind to, for our hens are gran' layers--you'll maybe find the mutton ham no that bad, though I've kent it fatter--and, as you ha'e a long walk afore you, excuse me, sir, for being sae bauld as to suggest a glass o' speerit in your neist cup. The gudeman is temperate, and he's been sae a' his life-but we keep it for a cordial—and that bottle-to be sure it's a gae big ane--and would thole replenishing-has lasted us syne the New Year."
So presseth us to take care of number one the gudewife, while the gudeman, busy as ourselves, eyes her with a well-pleased face, but saith nothing, and the bonnie wee bit lassie sits on her stool at the window wi' her coggie, ready to do any service at a look, and supping little or nothing, out of bashfulness in presence of Christopher North, who she believes is a good, and thinks may, perhaps, be some great man. Our third bannock has had the gooseberry jam laid on it thick by “the gudewife's ain haun',”-and we suspect at that last wide bite we have smeared the corners of our mouth-but it will only be making matters worse to attempt licking it off with our tongue. Pussie! thou hast a cunning look-purring on our knee—and though those glass een 'o thine are blinking at the cream on the saucer--with which thou jalousest we intend to let thee wet thy whiskers,—we fear thou mak'st no bones of the poor birdies in the brake, and that many an unlucky leveret has lost its wits at the spring of such a tiger. Cats are queer creatures, and have an instinctive liking to warlocks.
And these two old people have survived all their children-sons and daughters! Last night they told us the story of their life-and they told it as calmly as if they had been telling of the trials of some other pair. Perhaps, in our sympathy, though we said but little, they felt a strength that was not always theirs-perhaps it was a relief from silent sorrow to speak to one who was a stranger to them, and yet, as they might think, a brother in affliction--but the evening prayer assured us that there is in this hut a Christian composure, far beyond the need of our pity, and sent from a region far beyond the stars.
There cannot be a cleaner cottage. Tidiness, it is pleasant to know, has for a good many years past been establishing itself in Scotland among the minor domestic virtues. Once established it will never decay, for it must be felt to brighten more than could be imagined by our fathers, the whole aspect of life. No need for any other household fairy to sweep this floor. An orderly creature we have seen she is, from all her movements out and in doors-though the guest of but a night. They told us that they had known what are called better days-and were once in a thriving way of business in a town. But they were born and bred in the country; and their manners, not rustic but rural, breathe of its serene and simple spirit-at once Lowland and Highland-to us a pleasant. union, not without a certain charm of grace.
What loose leaves are these lying on the Bible ? A few odd numbers of the Scottish CHRISTIAN HERALD. We shall take care, our friends, that all the numbers for 1836 and 1837, bound in two large volumes, shall, ere many weeks elapse, be lying for you at the Manse.
The excellent editor is a friend of ours--and henceforth you shall be subscribers to the work. Well entitled is he to say“ Literature, science, subjects of general interest, philanthropic and benevolent schemes, all viewed under a purely religious aspect, and mingled with discussions upon the evidences, and doctrines, and duties of our most holy faith, have imparted to our pages a rich and varied interest