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LETTERS FOR THE MONTHS.
January. M Y DEAR HAPPY Paul,
1 I pray you note the splendour of the morning. The blue has broken through the clouds. I greet you with a Happy New Year.
Yesterday, when the year was dying, I strolled into the great Abbey, so lovely with the loveliness of all the gathered centuries. I held a little hand in mine. It was late afternoon.
We had lingered long among the gay shops, among the toys and the picturebooks. Neddy, my little friend, had not wanted much; for Christmas had been kind to him, and Christmas was past.
But when we came near the Abbey, I had said:
·Let us go in. There are grand pictures here, little Ned, and many strange stories.'
Neddy said nothing, but he clasped my hand closer, and looked up, half fearfully, at the great, grey, lovely pile. Neddy has bright eyes, but eyes sometimes full of shadow, as they were now. I think you would like him, little Paul; I hope you shall sometime meet. Meantime let me tell you of his first walk in the great Westminster Abbey. For Neddy had never been there before; and when we came within its shadow and its silence, he was quite still.
The lovely pointed arches, the great arcades, the dim coloured marble, the walls of flowered stone, the floods of light from the great windows, crimson and purple and blue,-surely they enthralled Ned. He was quite still.
I thought, through the great sweet arches, God speaks to the young soul, as He does through the flowers and the sunset. Perhaps at this moment some vague thought of the glory and love of God is thrilling iny dear little silent Ned. God shall speak alone through the loveliness. I too shall be still.
At last I heard Neddy draw a long, low sigh, as one very weary. And then I spoke.
He looked up suddenly, clearing his eyes as one brought back from a dream.
Is it very beautiful?'
But I would many times rather have had that low · Yes' of little Ned's, than from any one else a thousand rapturous praises of the solemn loveliness.
Then slowly, slowly, without speaking a word, we went over the grey pavement, and the graves of the great dead."
Many names we saw of those that were lying there, waiting in quiet trust for the Resurrection day :-men whose lives had blessed their people centuries ago, and whose names linger sweetly with a blessing in them yet. Men too lay there who had not done good, but evil, all their days; whom the people had not blessed, but feared ; and who lay down, unhoping, in the silence to wait the coming of the Great Judge. God is Judge; not you or I, little Paul: always remember that. Have you not in your life, and I in mine, done and said and thought what needs the mercy of God, even as those dark old sleepers ? Daily we need it, daily we crave it, with that dear constant plea, "for Jesus' sake.' Let our own lives be heedful and trustful, and leave the sleepers still.
But I did not say this to Neddy. We walked in silence.
How can I tell you all we saw ?_the angels sculptured on the friezes; the knights with their folded arms; the kings lying crowned in stone; the queens in their quiet robes, their still, placid features kept in changeless brass; the Tudor roses and the lilies of France carved round the sixth Edward; the dim shrine which holds Edward the Confessor, with his crown on his head and his pilgrim ring on his finger, and his golden chain and his crucifix. How can I tell you of the tombs of the two queens, Elizabeth and Mary, whose effigies, cold and calm, are laid near enough now; of · William of Windsor and Blanche of the Tower,' the baby children of Edward Third, in their tiny áltar tomb, and the beautiful head of the warrior king himself, lying among the same calm shadows, with
THE BLACKBIRD AND SPARROW.
all his wars and his victories dim in far-off story? Do you wonder, little Paul, that we were very still while we lingered in such a place?
And the light of the old year was dying fast away. Every recess was black in shadow, and the tombs, with their royal effigies, were coming out in ghostly relief. Neddy clasped my hand very tight.
You are not afraid ?' No; I like to be here.' I could not see his face. Neddy had no memories as I had to fill in the measure of his gloom. And it seemed as if the old year were receding among the tombs. I heard the echo of its footsteps, and its mysterious whisper, dying away and away among the old, old centuries. I thought of all the hearts that had once throbbed here in love and sorrow, and pain and joy, and how soon ours too should be still!
Suddenly a low music broke through the silence of the Abbey—then louder and louder, loyelier, higher, clearer—a wave of solemn, ecstatic sound which carried my heart to heaven. I was sad no more.
And at night I opened my window, and heard the bells ring in the year—and with it a glorious gladness, a great hope. For see what the year brings :-days to be filled for God; burdens to be borne for those we love; work to be done steadfastly, tenderly, purely, with a quiet heart.
The sleepers in the great Abbeythey have done their work, they are at rest. We are coming up behind them to do something they have left undone. And I thought I would write to you, little Paul, on this first day of the year, to remind you with my greeting of what you must do and be. For each year comes bountifully, with its new opportunities of good, a good gift from God, which we must take thankfully and joyfully, and use well.
And if some we love have passed from us below, for them, too, let us give thanks tenderly through our tears; for surely, brighter than ours, their year is begun in heaven. Good-bye, little Paul, with faithful love.
Yours, H. W. H. W.
THE BLACKBIRD AND SPARROW. DEAR minstrel of the dusky coat,
Though silent now thy silver note That still in fancy loves to float; We bid thee welcome to our door, Where, long as winter hovers o'er We'll share with thee our frugal store. Yet, sad, we see thec stooping low 'Mong petty sparrows to and fro, Who nought of thrilling music know. Thy wonted haunts look drear and chill, When winds are sweeping loud and shrill O’er withered mead and hoary hill. Thy brethren of the minstrel throng Have ceased, with thee, the choral song, And silent wait the woods among. The lark and linnet on our shore, Whose soul subduing praises pour, With thrush and mavis, move no more. Some, guided by an instinct strange Some secret law of life and changeEarth's warmer regions wildly range. We blame them not whose Maker, wise, Hath drawn to clearer, kinder skies, But watch their flight with weary eyes. We heard, on one sweet Sabbath eve, The last lone warbler softly weave His farewell, as if loathe to leave. And now the sparrow's chirp alone Is all that on our ear is thrown: Hie! warbler, wake another tone. Say, birdie, dost thou speak to me Of want and woeful penury, When riches from their owners flee, When stooping to the callous crowd, They toil for bread with spirit bowed, Who mingled with the gay and proud ? Or dost thou mark the truly great, Who, when oppressed by adverse fate, Bend nobly to a low estate? In vain we seek to move thy mind, Bold brother of the minstrel kind, To silence soberly resigned. Stay! till another crumb we bring, And when awakes the welcome spring Thou'lt higher sit, and blythely sing. 3. L. M.
THE PUBLICAN'S NET. TF you wander away into the quiet | tempting, their feet stick to the bird's-lime 1 country roads bordered by trees, overspread on the twigs, and even while hedges and green fields, in the summer trying to escape, the men in charge who months, at an early hour in the morning have been watching, rush forward, capture when the clouds are yet tinged with a rosy and transfer them to other cages which fringe by the rays of the sun, you are they had for the purpose. always sure to observe certain people Boys and men are in a great many patiently waiting there. Looking into the respects like these foolish birds, easily hedges you can observe little cages, and enamoured and led off the right path by inside birds, from out whose throats a some things which shine like reality, but rippling melody of song is poured forth on are nothing but trifles and shows. I the balmy air. Perhaps there may be four suppose many of you have tried in the cages also gether, set about a dozen yards winter months to capture the hungry apart, but all more or less concealed by sparrows; but the sparrow is a very the leafy twigs. The singing is really sensible bird, at least little Walter beautifnl, and worth listening to, for the Armstrong and his brother Henry found lipnets or chaffinches inside, scarcely ever out that he was. They resolved to capture cease their warbling; and that do you some, one forenoon in January, and the think this is done for?
speckled brown birds perched up on the Well, if you sit down on a grassy bank a roof of the barnyard, looked very serious, little distance off, and keep very still and and watched them go to the end of the quiet, by and by you will observo some house, laden with their implements of birds, attracted by their comrades' in captivity; and how the sparrows turned vitations, come flying past and alight very their heads from side to side and chirruped near the spots from whence the singing to each other as if to say, We all know proceeds. Nearer and nearer they go to what you're about.' the alluring strains, till, at last, several grow They watched them laying down the bolder and alight on the hedge above the bricks and putting the sticks into position, cages, but instead of finding something very and placing the crumbs inside, but I think PRIZE BIBLE QUESTIONS.
if they had heard how these boys were abomination to the land in which we live; plotting their ruin, and of how many they because so much grain is destroyed to distil were going to capture, they would have this poison, which might provide food flown at once out of danger. It was very for the hungry and needy: for wine cold outside, and when Willie and his is a mocker, strong drink is raging, brother had retreated to a sheltered spot, and wiOSOEVER is deceived thereby is not they suddenly heard a rushing noise, and I wise.'
DAVID CUTHBERTSON. lo! they saw the sparrows all fly away and disappear in another direction. They waited a long time to see if they would not
PRIZE ESSAYS. return, but in vain, and had at last to go
DURING the past year we have endeavoured, by indoors, cold and hungry, without even one
means of Competitive Essays upon various subjects, little sparrow, and sorrowful boys they to draw forth from the young the results of their were indeed, for a time; and if you turn up reading. It is pleasant to have it to say that the your Bible, you will see in Proverbs 1. and Essays adjudicated upon have been, for the most 17, those words, Surely in vain the net is part, of superior merit; especially when the tender spread in the sight of the bird : ' and how years of some of the competitors are taken into true it was in this instance !
account. Upon the question of the Inspiration of But there are nets spread for boys and the Word of God, especially, there has been an men, as well as birds; and some are caught amount of sound thinking and of good writing, which and made captive for a long time, and is exceedingly gratifying. frequently for life. There is in every town,
The following are the successful competitors :-" and in a great many places also, public houses where drink is sold, and very
1. JANE MURRAY, Dunmurry, County Antrim. tempting they look. Many a man has gone 2. ALEXANDER GILLON, Campbeltown. inside to stay for a little, just to partake of 3. JOHN P. GLEN, Renton. a glass with his comrades, and has come 4. ANDREW MILLIGAN, Coatbridge. out helpless, hardly able to walk, staggering along and sometimes falling into the gutter. And yet, children, some men, and PRIZE BIBLE QUESTIONS. all the publicairs, will tell you that drink is good and makes one strong; but such
As it is desirable that as many of the youthful statements are all false, and are just part of
readers of the 'Dayspring' as possible should have the net by which they endeavour to entrap
the opportunity of competing, it is our intention to unwary people. It is far better to be an
resume our Bible Class during 1880, with the hope abstainer, and avoid such drinks which
that the sanie earnestness and interest, as in past make men worse than beasts.
Three Prizes are offered for years, will be exhibited. It has
the largest number of correct answers to the ruined many homes, and numbers of boys
Questions, which will appear monthly. and girls have to go without food, because of their parents having been drawn into Competition is limited to those who are under 14 the publican's net.
years; and answers must be sent in to rev. JOHN Whenever you observe a public-house
KAY, 2 Cumin Place, Grange, Edinburgh, not later
than the 25th of each month. and any one going there, think of the little birds and how they were captured by appearances, to their own loss; and resolve, by the help of your beavenly
1 When did a lie told by a good man cause
the death of a great many innocent persons ? Father, to keep away from the publican's net, with all such drinks as he sells, and
2 What young man lost his life by telling
lies? by so doing you will become brave men
3 What son was obliged to leave his father's and women. Neither touch, taste nor
house in consequence of his having acted and handle that which is unnecessary and an | spoken a lie?
• To provide us joy,
When our lives were dim,
Of His home above;
And accept His love.
Tor in us the Lord
Of this glad New Year.
Now in hall and hut
And the friends approved
In the hearts of all.
Now we take His word
With a joyful tear;
Paisley: J. and R. PARLANE.)
(London: HOULSTON AND SONS.