Imágenes de páginas
[blocks in formation]

weird and leafless through the gloom of the November night.

Hawthomden is peopled by one memory, that of an old laird who lived there in the days of Charles First, and wrote sacred poems and meditations, and has made the name of his small domain familiar to every reader. Drummond of Hawthomden, he was called then, and is so still. I do not think you would care to read anything he ever wrote. Yet now, as the winter evenings come, you turn to books for company.

You have dearest faces round you, but books are added friendships. They are your winter flowers.

When you are sad with that causeless sadness, which you cannot hope to walk through the world without knowing in some dim hour,—a feeling so vague you cannot tell it to your dearest, so close folding, you cannot get free,—the bright, wise page of some favourite book will many times dispel the gloom, and open a vista of sunlight on the very track of the shadows.

What should you know of this, my bright Harry, in the glory of your youth and joy?

But when you have learned it, you will understand what it is to have good bookfriends. You will discover slowly the books which can truly be your friends. For books are like people, we must partly choose them for ourselves. Those which respond to our moods, and meet us at our trysting places, at the places where our thoughts wait for sympathy, are those which can truly do us good.

There is one book which will always meet us with sympathy, love and rest. You do not ask what book I mean. You know it is the Bible.

This is nothing new to tell you. Yet I like to tell it again.

I do not know any poetry so sweet as the poetry of the psalms; nor any stories of such utter beauty as the old calm stories of the patriarchal days. And if you will have heroism, it is there too.

Do you remember the history of Nehemiah's rebuilding of the wall?

'In what place, therefore, ye hear the

sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us; our God shall fight for us.

'So we laboured in the work; and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning until the stars appeared.'

Nehemiah is a note of brightness in the midst of the sadness of the prophets. It is he who teaches the people:—

'The joy of the Lord is your strength."

But the glory of all the Bible meets in the story of the gospels. The centre of the whole world's history, the wonder of love which the human heart sometimes scarcely dares to believe; so infinite the tenderness, the pity.

We come to Christ's feet for pardon; we come to His heart for love; and there we learn Him best.

Keble has four beautiful lines, which I think are better to remember than whole books of theology.

'Seek thou the Saviour out, and dwell

Beneath the shadow of His roof,
Till thou have scanned His features well,
And known Him for the Christ, by proof.'

Perhaps you know the lines already. Then keep them in your heart. Sometimes you may learn the deep preciousness of the thought that is in them.

But I hope you will make friends of many books besides the best book of all.

History, science, art—God is also in these. In these, too, we may follow His steps, and hold the Divine Hand.

And we must leave unused no gift which He has given us. The best is God's.

11 you follow the little path which leads by the side of the Esk, you will come to the high old castle which overhangs the stream.

It is but a lofty, airy fragment, hung against the black night sky. And the wind is wailing through its crumbling loopholes, and searching the dark old dungeons that have such secrets to keep.

A little nearer is the Chapel, with its endless flowers carved in stone—half mouldered in pathetic beauty—yet still a loveliness. The people worship under its

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]


AWAY up in one of the garrets of a tall tenement in Edinburgh, lived Mrs Watson with her only son Tom, a boy ten years of age. Her husband had been dead for a good number of years, and she obtained a living by doing any kind of work, such as sewing or washing, which she could manage to get from the neighbours and others.

Tom went to school through the day, but later on might have been observed with numbers of other lads rushing down the North Bridge with a small bundle of papers beneath his arm, crying lustily, 'Evening News, sir! only a ha'penny!'

Tom did not wear boots in the summer months, and frequently in the winter had to go barefooted, because his mother could not afford them; but still he was a merryhearted fellow and was happy all the day long.

Time had been dealing a little harshly with both mother aud son lately. What with the monthly rent being nearly due, and their earnings smaller than usual (which only sufficed to provide them with barely necessary food), things were not looking very bright. It wanted but two nights till the dreaded visit of the factor, and the widow had only half a slice of bread in the house, with a very small packet of tea and a piece of cheese with two lumps of coal, and no money to buy more. To make matters worse, the weather was bitterly cold and snow lay on the streets, while the windows were often frescoed with beautiful pictures of trees and mountains and various lovely landscapes, painted in the night time by King Frost.

Mrs Watson sat in a kind of dreamy state wondering what she would do if she could not pay the rent. She knew she would be turned out of her house, which, although consisting only of one small room, was still a protection for which she was grateful. She was losing heart and forgot that God heard all her thoughts as plainly as if they had been spoken aloud in the form of words. Why were others rich and

she so poor? She was willing to work, but none could be found; and what was left for her and Tom but to starve?

While such doubts were filling Mrs Watson's mind, Tom was doing his best to sell his papers, but did not meet with great success, as few people liked taking their hands out of their gloves to search in their pockets for a half-penny, the night was so cold. Tom had picked up a pair of old boots somewhere, and although two of his toes peeped out, he thought them very handsome and comfortable, even without stocking inside.

The other Sabbath he had listened to the children in the school singing—

'There is a happy land,

Ear, far away,'

and while waiting at the door he had longed to go inside and enquire if it was too far off for such a little boy as he to reach?

He did not attend church now, because his clothes were too ragged, and his Mother did not go for the same reason.

It was getting late now, and Tom had serious intentions of going home, even with half his papers unsold. Passing a house which stood a little way off the main street, he saw a little spaniel shivering with the cold. Bending down he patted the dog on the head at the same time asking, 'Poor wee doggie, is your feet awfu' cold?'

The dog gave no reply but a gentle whine, and tried to lick Tom's hands as much as to say, 'You are very good for asking, but I cannot speak.' A small brass collar was round its neck, and Tom, after great efforts, made out the address, and found that the dog had strayed from home. Lifting it tenderly up he, after half an hour's walking, reached the place and rung the bell. The door of the house was opened by a lady, and the dog with a joyous bark leaped from Tom's arms and began jumping and dancing round about her.

'O! Fido, where have you been, you naughty, naughty dog?' said the lady, at the same time lifting it to pat it. Tom was turning to go away when he was called back and some money put in his hands.

[merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

His mother's amazement and delight was as great as his own, and after paying the rent they had enough money left over to relieve present anxieties. Tom was induced by some comrades to go to the Sabbath School, and what with the teacher's kindness who called at his abode, and helped his mother to procure work, he went back every week and became, although he was poor, one of the best and attentive scholars there. Some cast off clothes were given him with a pair of boots, and he has induced his mother to go regularly with him to church, and they do not doubt God's goodness now, and are learning daily to trust more raid more in Him. The last ticket Tom got to learn off was—

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Words which he is fond of repeating over and Over again, because he has begun to realise that God cares for rich and poor alike, for both are precious in His sight.




IN ajpoor,Tionsein Plymouth, John Kitto, the .well known Biblical scholar, was born^ftn'December 4th 1804; so that it is exactly -76 'years ago on the 4th of next month jy,,sJHis father who had started well in life became. badly behaved, so that the hardsTrip's' of intemperance were added to those of poverty in Kitto's early home. When four years of age, he was sent to stay with his grandmother, who had always looked on him with special love; and Kitto in later years looked back to the time he spent under her care with feelings of the

deepest gratitude. To entertain him with stories, to teach him to sew, to take him walks in the country, and to assist him on these occasions in gathering flowers and fruits, were some of the many ways in which she shewed her love.

Another of the friends of Kitto's childhood was a shoemaker named Roberts, who stayed next door. As he worked with his awl and last, if in good humour, he would tell John the wondrous stories of Cinderella, Blue Beard, and such like. When John learned that these stories were printed and could be bought for a copper or two, his few pence were saved up and spent on story-books instead of sweets. In a year and a half he had quite a small library of such tales. fofr.

Before he was twelve years of age, Kitto made his first attempt at authorship. His cousin came to see him one day, mid told him that he was going to purchase a story book with a penny. Kitto was very anxious to get a penny at the time, and ,so offered to write his cousin a story for the penny. The offer was accepted, the story was written, and a picture pointed at the beginning; the cousin took the story, John got the penny, and both were thoroughly pleased with their bargain.

Another amusing incident of Kiito's childhood was an attempt to act a play. The play bills in the streets had often attracted his notice, so although he had Eerer seen a play he resolved to arrange for one. He formed a plot, secured a number of companions, and instructed them in their parts. The play bill was drawn out and posted at the door—admission price, 'ladies eight pins, gentlemen ten.' An audience of fifteen responded to the call; and when the entertainment was over, the pins were given to John's aunt for three half-pence, which in turn were spent in gingerbread and apples; and the whole assembly, actors and audience, indulged in a feast.

When ten years of age, along with his grandmother, who had become unable to support herself, Kitto went to stay with his father. In company with his father he

« AnteriorContinuar »