« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
take it upon him precisely to say; but he asked so many
upon the whole, she had many sore rubs in her way of life ; but the unvarying philosophy of the contented creature was, “Never mind, we'll a' be brawly yet!" Such was Jenny's saying in every difficulty and trial. Meantime her son grew up, and was a fine lad.
66 Was ye
Having got a good education, he went abroad and throve. The first token of his well-doing was a locket which he sent home to his mother, with some of his hair in it, and having her own well-remembered words, by way of inscription, round it, “We'll a' be brawly yet !" Money followed in regular instalments from the virtuous young man, till his worthy parent had more than enough. And now the youth is on his
home with a good competency, to take his mother to himself—and shall they not be “ brawly?” A queer
old humorist lived in a queer old cottage, in the outskirts of our Village. He had travelled much in the East, and had made money as a merchant in Smyrna. Being a native of our parish, and a bachelor, he came to close his mortal chapter where it began. I need scarcely say that, like so many of his class, he was fidgety, testy, and troublesome ; but a lover of fair play withal, warmhearted, and benevolent. At bottom, too, he was a thoroughly religious man. He and I were getting on uncommonly well together, when, greatly to my sorrow, he took ill and died, only a few months after we had become acquainted. An odd incident befel him on his death-bed; and I must relate it, as illustrative of his character :-A thief made his way into his cottage one midnight, and entered his dying chamber to steal—for he was counted rich as a Nabob. There was a light burning in the room. " What do you want, friend ?” was the testy demand of our disturbed old gentleman. “Your money, and your jewels,” said the thief
. “O! you are there, are you? Very well.
Just look at these poor old legs of mine (thrusting out his emaciated members from beneath the bed-clothes). Nay, lay hold of them-feel them--so, you must be perfectly convinced in your own mind, now, that I cannot go into the next apartment where my money is. Come, then, take me on your back, and carry me there.” Saying this, the old chap, dying though he was, actually rose and got out of bed. The thief drew back with a look of ghastly surprise. “ Hark ye! son of woman born,” continued the old gentleman emphatically, as he sat him down on the front of the bed, and raised his fore-finger
6 I am,"
with warning solemnity, “ I am far on my way to Eternity -and you are coming on behind me. You are here to steal certain trash of mine ? Come, now, you must do better than that : Draw near : Here is this bad old heart of mine : Stand forward : Reach me now your thievish hand into this inveterate bosom of mine : 0! do but steal—rob—plunder from it Covetousness, Lust, Anger, and every other lingering bad passion, and send me lighter on my way : 0! do this, and you shall have all my gold ! You shake
head? You cannot ? Here, then, friend -I am anything but heavy-you must take me on your back.” The thief could not stand this. He fell down on his knees, and begged the old man's forgiveness. 66 Are you really in want ?” asked the eccentric invalid. was the reply, “but I deserve to be so, for I have been dissipated and idle ; but God help me! I think I am a changed man."
“ Take this key, then,” said our dying friend; “ open my desk in the next room there (pointing to the door) ; you will find a purse of gold in it; bring it to me." The thief did so. “ Take that,” said the worthy humorist, and he served out his gold liberally into the thief's trembling hand. With tears in his eyes
poor penitent again fell on his knees, and craved a blessing on the dying man. He was about to retire. “Nay, friend, you must help me into my bed first,” said the old gentleman; “it is anything but reasonable that I be raised up at midnight in this sort of manner.” Accordingly, the thief lifted the old man up in his arms, and put him into the bed. “Now, brother worm," said the queer but wise old patient, “I asked this last piece of service for your own good, as well as mine. You will be nothing the worse of having felt the weight and worth of an armful of poor, sinful, dying clay. It will help you to keep in mind your good resolutions.
Christ be with you! In his own gracious words, ‘Go, and sin no more.
It is unpleasant to have to believe it, and say it; but there is scarcely a village that has not its free-thinker. Pride of intellect is generally the root of this infidelity. The melancholy process of its growth may be stated thus :
If the man, being of a somewhat vigorous and daring spirit, finds he can despise many narrow distinctions of opinion in those among whom he dwells, he is naturally thrown into opposition. The tenacity with which his neighbours cling to their set modes of religious profession leads him, in the wantonness of superior freedom, into bold licences in questioning the value of their formulas. This is dangerous work, however, for himself; for his incessant challenging and despising of the adjuncts of religion gradually hurts his reverence for the thing itself; and loving to astonish his weaker bretheren by appearing even more latitudinarian than he really is, he is apt to end in actually becoming what he would have himself appear to be. If his neighbours treat him with any bitterness of fear and dislike, and exclusion, for his freer notions, he sets it down to cant; and the very strictness with which they hold by Christianity induces him by degrees to regard it with distaste as a faith only for the vulgar such as they, and by no means a faith for enlarged minds. Hatred and opposition to religion are the next natural stages of his heart's perversion.-One of my near neighbours was a person of this stamp; and, from all I could learn, such had been the growth of his scepticism. He was a plasterer and house-painter by trade; but he had cultivated his faculties above his station, especially in the Fine Arts ; and so, indulging that pride of intellect of which I have been speaking, he thought himself entitled to despise the main body of his fellow-villagers. Latterly, to help himself against some gastric pains, and a certain nervous depression of spirits—and, I verily believe also, to assist his conversational powers, in which he had much selfcomplacency; and that he might be thought a man of genius, like Coleridge and De Quincey-he took to opium : That indulgence so cowardly—as if, in the great discipline of life, any man, deserving the name of a man, would shirk pain and sorrow in any such paltry way! Only think of Job skulking off into the mean refuge of opium, instead of meeting his Chastener face to face—now yielding despairingly, and now fiercely self-vindicating, in the awful fluxes and refluxes of his agonized human heart ; ay, but still a Heaven-facing wrestler, till he came out of his great tribulation a disciplined, enlarged, and better man! I need scarcely add that the end of our poor plasterer was a very miserable one.
I have already aļluded to our worthy minister. A fine white-headed old man was he, who did not wrangle in Church Courts, but ministered faithfully to his people, and was greatly beloved of them. Many a quiet game at backgammon had he and I of an evening. By the way, I have often smiled at the inconsistency of the Scotch, who readily allow their clergymen to play at some games both at home and abroad; while they would hold the minister mad, or something worse, who should venture on other sports, though not a whit more exceptionable. To angle and curl, for instance, are quite clerical in Scotland ; but the shooting minister, though the stubble-field or the hillside is certainly a less roistering place than the rink, is an abomination. He may play at backgammon, though chance is predominant in the game, and no great skill necessary; but wo be to him if he meddle with cards (the Devil's books !), though the game is far less a game of chance than backgammon-chance being in the eyes of the common objectors to cards the test of their perniciousness.
THE FAIRY CHANGELING.
In a rude retired house, more out of our Village than in it, wonned a shy peculiar man—the victim of superstition. The “Silent People” are now wavering away over the dim edge of Belief, but thirty or forty years ago there was scarcely an old wife in our Village who had not seen the Fairies by moonlight on the green ferny braes. Sandy Brunton, the thin hero of my present notice, was a Fairy Changeling. His mother was one day shearing in the harvest field. She had left her plump rosy-cheeked infant lying asleep in her shawl at