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LETTERS FOE TV/TY DEAR HARRY,
*-'- So still a place; yet you would love it I think, for it is in the heart of a forest whose name has a charm of its own. Not real forest land that is long gone; but shady delicious vestiges, lying miles apart.
The villages which dot it here and there are sweet as England holds. And the great trees bear themselves with a venerable state as trees that had shadowed the chase when queen Elizabeth reigned.
Down its long green arcades queen Elizabeth often rode, with the pomp of her
THE MONTHS. July.
lords and ladies making gay contrasts in
the solemn forest gloom.
And centuries before queen Elizabeth
another queen stood there; the poor, proud,
heroic Boadicea, with her Druids and her
soldiers round her.
'When the British warrior queen,
Bleeding from the Roman rods
Counsel of her country's gods.
Sate the Druid hoary chief,
Full of rage and full of grief.'
And there still stand patriarch oaks, whose gnarled boughs look old enough to have sheltered queen and Druid in that ancient tragic counsel in the forest. It was among the oaks of Epping forest Boadicea gathered her people to meet the Bomans who invaded her island realm.
The oaks are still pre-eminently the monarchs of the place. 'Let his majesty's forests and chaces be stored with this spreading tree,' wrote a writer on sylvan England in a generation past. But you, my little bright friend, do not need to be told its praise.
Have you not learned long ago its bright sweet various tones? The green and the yellow and the red and the brown which blend in one tender harmony? Have not its torn mossy branches been to you as ancient friends? How gentle and warm was the greenness that claspedtheoldruggedbough?
And you have thought as you looked on it how it had a history somewhere. Every old oak of England has such, unwritten and unread.
You have thought of the Druids, have you? I too have thought of them when the wind makes a soft inarticulate song through the deep summer green. And you have half wondered how men who loved the tree so well could have had rites so cruel, and beliefs so dark and stern.
The oak was their sacred tree. It was in the oak forests, as you know, that their sacred ceremonies were performed—those cruel ceremonies performed in the name of God.
Happily for us many gentler memories make poems of the oak trees for us. The wierd tales of the Druids we can forget now. Their human sacrifices, their stern counsels, their relentless rule—these pass, and a softer touch of story comes over the forest oaks.
There is the Shire oak, whose branches touch three counties with their shadow— the oak where Charles second hid; the oaks of queen Elizabeth.
And many a quiet tree there is, with its lovely village story, known only to those who played beneath it in their youth, or
mused beneath its shadow when the evening time drew on.
A gentle pleasure you may find in talking with the old oak trees—in listening with quiet heart to the songs that are sung through their leaves—in letting their music fall through your cares like the hush of a gospel story.
For the leaves of the forest trees sing sweet and constant psalms. 'Upon an instrument of ten strings, upon the psaltery, upon the harp with a solen;n sound.
'Praise Him with the psaltery and harp.
'Praise Him with the high-sounding cymbals.
'He bringeth forth the winds from His treasuries.'
When you have read such words have you thought of the cedars of Lebanon, and how, perhaps, through their great spreading boughs David first had learned his psalms?
Did you ever ckant them to yourself low beneath some old oak, and hear their rhythm rung back to you in the music of the green leaves?
Try to learn the sweetness of listening for God among the trees, and answering His presence with the glad praise.
'Thou hast made summer!'
The afternoon shadows are stealing long and quiet down the forest glades. I must feel the sunshine in them. Good-bye, my dear. H. w. H. w.
THE INGENIOUS BOY—JAMES FERGUSON.
OF the many famous men who have risen by their own genius and industry, few hold so high a place as James Ferguson. The story of his boyhood is most interesting, and well fitted to encourage those who have difficulties to face.
The parents of James Ferguson were poor; and as they had a large family to support, they could give their children a very short education. James, in his eagerness to learn to read, listened to his father teaching his elder brother, and then, when a quiet opportunity occurred, he would take the book and go over the lesson for
himself. Any difficulty lie took to a neighbouring old woman, who gladly explained it to him. In this way he learned to read before his father began to teach him. His father was both surprised and pleased when he found how far his son was on. He gave him higher teaching aloDg with lessons in writing. This education at home, along with about three months in the grammar school at Keith, was all the preparation James had for making his way in the world.
When seven or eight years old, James saw his father using a lever in making some repairs on their house. The power which this instrument gave his father excited his wonder, and led him to make experiments for himself, not only with the lever, but with pulleys and weights. This was the beginning of his love for science.
.Ferguson was early sent to work, in order to support himself. A neighbour engaged him to watch sheep, a situation which he kept for several years. In the daytime he busied himself making models of mills and other things, and at night he studied the stars. His mode of studyiug astronomy was original and interesting. As he advanced in his work he was not occupied at night; and then was the time he chose for study. He tells his own story as follows. Talking of his master he says,—'I found him very kind and indulgent, but he soon observed that, in the evenings, when my work was over, 1 went into a field with a blanket about me, lay down on my back, and stretched a thread withsmall beads upon it till they hid such and such stars from my eye in order to take their apparent distances from one another; and thus, laying the thread down on a paper, I marked the stars thereon by the beads according to their respective positions, having a candle by me. My master at first laughed at me, but when I explained my meaning to him, he encouraged me to go on; and that 1 might make fair copies in the daytime of what I had done in the night, he often worked for me himself. I shall always have a respect for the memory of that man.'
After a time of service with a gentleman
who took an interest in him, Ferguson tried attendingto amill,thinkingoccupation of this kind would give him time for study. His master was unkind, and after a year he left. His next master was still worse, so with injured health and an empty pocket he was forced to return home. While recovering his strength he made a wooden clock, the bell on which the hammer struck being the neck of a broken bottle. He also made a watch, of which the wheels were wood and the spring was whalebone. The case, also of wood, was the size of a large cup.
A neighbouring gentlemaD, pleased with Ferguson's cleverness, engaged him to clean his clocks. In this way he began to make a little money in the country round, making this gentleman's house his head-quarters. Two large stone balls, about the size of geographical globes, stood at the gate of this house. These Ferguson painted with oil colours: the one a map of the terrestrial globe, the other a map of the celtstial. When the sun was shining, he could tell by them the time of day, and also the places in the world where the sun at that moment was rising or setting.
The next move he made was to Edinburgh. There he started portrait painting, at which he was very successful. IKot only did he support himself, but also his parents, now in their old age. Children, when your parents grow old, think of the care they took of you when you were too young to take care of yourselves, and do your best to make them comfortable and happy, showing in this way your gratitude.
Ferguson is now passing into the man, so we must leave him. In after years be followed out his favourite study of astronomy, and made himself famous by his discoveries. He was elected a member of the Royal Society without paying for admission—a very rare honour to natives of Britain. His works were translated into several languages, and after a long and useful life, he died in 1776, leaving behind an honoured name. Learn the lesson of his life:—' A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.' j. M'm.
GLIMPSES OP THE NEW HEBRIDES.
PROGRESS ON ANEITYUM.
HpHE ship, 'John Williams,' the gift of -*- the children of England to the London Missionary Society, arrived at Samoa early in 1845. This vessel, so suitable a memorial of the noble missionary whose name it bore, was an invaluable aid to Polynesian Missions. Dr. Turner, who sailed with her on her first voyage to the New Hebrides, writes: 'It is delightful to be in such a vessel. Captain, mate, carpenter, and two seamen, pious, and all the rest in regular attendance at family worship, morning and evening. It is a heaven upon the sea compared with many a ship.'
When the ship came to Aneityum, the missionaries learned that one of the Samoan teachers and his wife who had been placed there in 1841, had died, and that the lives of the other two teachers had been repeatedly in danger.
At that time only one native of Aneityum, named L"mra, had renounced heathenism, but eleven others were coming to the teacher's house at night to receive instruction. A chief named Nohuat, had promised to befriend teachers, and so two were stationed in his district.
Dr. and Mrs. Geddie from Nova Scotia, reached Samoa in 1847, and when the 'John Williams' arrived in 1848, Dr. Turner accompanied them to the New Hebrides, to assist them in selecting a field for their future labours. The Rev. T. Powell and Mrs. Powell went with them to aid in founding the new mission. Fate was the island first thought of, but as the teachers there had met with great opposition—one of them having been killed—Aneityum was fixed on as the most favourable spot. Accordingly, Dr. Geddie began his life-long labours on that island, Mr and Mrs Powell assisting him for the first year. Umra had been at Samoa for a time and returned with the missionaries. His glowing accounts of all he had seen and heard at Samoa, delighted his countrymen, and inclined some of them to listen to the message of salvation.
For a time Dr. and Mrs. Geddie endured many hardships and laboured under great discouragement. Their property was stolen and their lives were in constant danger from the clubs of the savages who accused them of bringing hurricanes, diseases, and death. The mission premises were set on fire at midnight, in Nov. 1851. When Nohoat saw the smouldering roof he wept, and determined to protect the missionary. Other friends joined him, and from that day the cause of Christ advanced steadily.
On the 18th of May 1852, when the 'John Williams' was in the harbour and a deputation from the London Missionary Society was present, thirteen native converts were baptized and the Lord,s Supper was observed. Thus the first Christian church on Aneityum was formed. On the 1st July following, the Bishop of New Zealand's mission vessel arrived, bringing Mr and Mrs Inglis. They were stationed at Aname on the opposite side of the island, the place where the Samoan teachers had been at first located.
From this time wonderful success crowned the labours of the missionaries. The letters received from them were such as to draw tears of joy from the eyes of their friends at home; reminding them of the labours of the apostle Paul: 'So mightly grew the AVord of God and prevailed.'
In 1859, Dr. Turner again visited Aneityum in the 'John Williams,' and he thus describes what he saw at that time.
'Aneityum, 5th October.—This morning we anchored in the harbour of Aneligauhat. Found Mr and Mrs Geddie and family well, and the affairs of the mission making progress in the right direction. The walls of a new stone church are rising, beautifully figurative of the steady advance of the cause of Christ on this island; and, I was struck also with the fact, that the place on the beach where the natives were digging up the sandstone for their church, was about the very spot where Mr Murray and I had our meeting with the chief Nohoat and some of his people. I spoke a few words to them expressive of my great joy in in seeing what Gad, by the gospel, had done for them; reminded them' of our struggle with
the heathenism of former days, and exhorted them to be thankful to God for bavins sent His servants to lead them from darkness to light. Our old friend Nohoat died in June last; but the disappointment in not meeting with him was greatly modified by learning that, for four years before his death he had been a member of the church; and also, that his son, who succeeds him in the chieftainship, is a church member too, and foremost in everything that is good.'
Dr. Turner then sailed round to Mr Inglis' station, and he thus describes the blessed fruits of the gospel on that spot. .
'Instead of the uncultivated heathen shore, without a house to be seen, there are now at Aname, the lovely mission premises—church, class-room, dwelling-houses, and cheerful group of young men and women living in the neighbourhood, and under regular instruction. There were only seven young lads there who knew their letters in 1S45: now there are a thousand people in the district who can read the Xew Testament.
'On the Sabbath day I attended divine service. About four hundred were present, and they listened with marked attention while Mr Inglis and I addressed them. Some of them, after the service, shook hands, and said they could hardly suppress their tears while I spoke to them of the heathen times of eleven and fourteen years back. I was pleased also to see the people pretty well clothed. Every woman, for instance, had a straw bonnet, with the exception of some three or four, and they had decent cotton handkerchiefs on their heads as a substitute.
'There are at this station 130 church members. But one of the most hopeful prospects for future progress which I saw here, was the te'.ect class of sixty young men and women, who are under tuition with a view to their being employed as native teachers.'
Mr Copeland, another able missionary, was now at Anietyum, able to take charge of Mr Inglis' station; and so Mr and Mrs Inglis went on board the 'John Williams,' to revisit their native land. They brought with them the Anietyumese New Testament, to be printed in London by the British and Foreign Bible Society. Williamu, a native, accompanied them to aid Mr Inglis with the translation.
Great was the joy of the people when they returned in 1868. Mr Inglis tells us that when he reached the shore on Dr. Geddie's side of the island, 'The British flag and the flags of the different chiefs
were all flying in front of the mission premises. A flag was extended over the gate-way, with the inscription in large letters, Welcome Home. The orphan and other children attending Mrs Johnstone's school to the number of fifty or sixty, were drawn up on each* side of the gate, and as we passed them they sang the Aneityum version of the hymn, "There is a happy land, far, far away." This, to my mind, was the most touching and affecting part of the whole arrangments. On our side of the island there was an equal, but somewhat different display. As we came round in our boat yesterday, we were met at the reef, near the landing place, by a crowd of natives, headed by the principal chiefs, bearing a native palano^uin decorated with flags; on this we were carried shoulder high from the boat to the garden gate, the whole procession joining in a song, in the same way as they inaugurated thenhighest chiefs; and every one must shake hands with us, from the oldest to the youngest.'
Mr and Mrs Inglis continued to labour on Aneityum till"l877, when they came home to get the Old Testament printed— a work which will be invaluable to the Aneityumese. Mr Inglis' station is now occupied by Mr J. H. Lawrie, who went there in 1879.
Dr Geddie, the father of the mission, died in 1872. The Rev. Joseph Annand now occupies his station. At present there are eleven missionaries labouring in the New Hebrides. M.t.s.
PRIZE BIBLE QUESTIONS.
Three Prizes are offered for the largest number of correct answers to the Questions during 1880. The Competition is limited to those under 14 years of age. The answers to be sent to the REV. John Kay, 2 Cumin Place, Grange, Edinburgh, by the 25th of each month.
19 In what song of praise are the Lord's people compared to the sun?
20 In which verse of Proverbs is their progress in holiness compared to the increasing brightness of the sun in its course?
21 Which verse of an epistle describes the death of the believer as his entrance into the everlasting kingdom?