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hear, as if close beside me, the voices of a group of children behind the garden hedge. We watched, my friend and I, sometimes in silence, sometimes with a bit of unforced talk, for our eyes were busier than our tongues, and both tongue and eye were waking old memories which filled with their tender feelings all the spaces of calm.
I must tell you something of the business of that far-off day. Yonder-upon the hill-side, just coming into view beyond the group of chestnuts-you see a peaceful cottage; there is an orchard-garden behind, with its tiny conservatory, and before, a sloping lawn. It was not long before the afternoon I speak of, that a funeral drew its dark group down the avenue, and a few sad faces to the windows watching the sorrowful show. The old man was dead. The quiet, gentle, tender soul, so full of ancient wisdom and childlike goodness, had been gathered to his fathers. We went down the avenue that day with the mourners. And now we were coming back again to the silent house, for the departed scholar had said that some of his papers should come into the hands of my friend who walked with me, and myself, and we were on our way to see the note-books and journals, which we were now to make use of for the good of all plain Christian folk in the way we thought well. It was the wish of the old man that, if there were any good in his papers, it should be used in that way.
Oh! that still and deserted study. There were the books he loved so truly, row upon row, with their gilded leather and vellums, the stately folios, the quartos, and octavos; many with the old bindings of Italy and France and the Low Countries, three hundred years ago; even more in the leather of the Puritan times, and not a few, and these the best of their day, in the modern casings of England and the Continent. These cabinets held the Herbarium, for botany was the one cherished science, and the fruits of twenty years' loving labour in Scottish and English and Irish fields are there. And this is the microscope; and on its tall stand in the corner the great telescope, at which the children used
to wonder. On every vacant space of wall there is some familiar portrait, the grave, kind face of Melanchthon; Baxter, with the heavenly light of his deep eyes; Sibbes, strong but tender; Ray, the naturalist, at once botanist and theologian; Milton and Spenser and Shakespeare, with many another—some known to us all, some to the old man alone. There were also many sweet child-faces, and there was one woman's face, but that was not on the wall. Here and there a little landscape looked like a window into some faroff world; and in one corner, in the shadow, I remember two engravings, the Melancholy of Albert Dürer, and a picture of the Lord when He was saying, "Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more."
And here is the old desk. At first it seems to have stood on four legs, but these were closed in as a press for papers, and a new piece had been added, not so high, at which the old man could more easily sit. The inkbottle hangs in its place; here are the pens and portfolio, with some sheets which no one must fill now. It was in the desk, we knew, the scholar's note-books lay, and all that evening we were examining them. There were more than three hundred, some devoted to special subjects, but most were collections of the various thinking and reading of a later lifetime. It is from some of these papers I am to give you the paragraphs which follow.
And I hope, gentle reader, that you will like them. They are openings into an old scholar's heart; they show the tastes and turn of a quiet soul. Often did the young people think the books dead and dry, and all his ways old-fashioned, yet gladly would the children hear him when he told them some of the stories which no one could tell but himself. They were so different from other stories, so full of things which stirred thought; and often, from the way the scholar told them, so tender and wonderful. But he will tell them to the children no more. He is gone from the meadow and the hill. The places that once knew him shall know him no more for ever. But if you will study some of these notes,
you may perhaps enter into some of his labours.
yet again speak to us, with that voice which the departed have, and which speaks from the printed page.
I have been to-day reading in the history of Gibbon, and met the story of the famous Prince Abdalrahman. Surely seldom has even the gorgeous East seen a more splendid monarch. In his palace were hung up thirty-eight thousand pieces of tapestry, twelve thousand five hundred of which were of silk embroidered with gold. And so with everything else; all that wealth and fortune could do was done for this And yet his heart was unsatisfied. After his death it was found that he had written these sorrowful words, "I have now reigned above fifty years in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honours, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot-they amount to fourteen. O man! place not thy confidence in this present world." And the old scholar added, "I will not place my confidence in it: I think I have not. I have been a plain, poor man, yet I have had more happy days than this mighty king. Christ has been my peace. He has led me by green pastures and still waters. Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."
In one of his many victories Cyrus conquered a province which won his soldiers' hearts. It had soft, warm valleys, lovely lakes, and delightful groves, and they would fain have left their own colder clime and Cyrus would not allow them. their manly virtues. "I will
stayed there for ever. But The easy life would destroy never," he said, “become a
slave to what I have made a slave to me." And so the soldiers refused present pleasures that they might keep their own selves free.
And so, great Lord, art Thou training us who profess to be Thy soldiers. Thou art saying to us, in these pleasant earthly lives, "This is not your rest." Thou art thinking of us and of our souls, not of the joys which perish. Wise and kind leader, lead us in the right way. Let us set our affections on things that are above, where Thou Thyself art. We have in heaven a better and a more enduring possession than the happiest land of earth. We must stedfastly set our hearts and our faces to go to the Paradise of God.
I met to-day a story of Jerome, the great Christian Father of the fourth century, which I have often read. He said of himself that, whatever he was about, and wherever he was, that voice was in his ears, "Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment." It helped, as it well might, to make him earnest and wise. May the same voice be in our ears, and the same wise solemnity in our souls!
Sir Edmund Coke was a famous lawyer, and a great and gifted man. Like great men he was full of work; and this is what he wrote about division of time
"Six hours in sleep, in Law's grave study six,
Sir William Jones altered the lines to these
"Seven hours to Law, to soothing slumber seven,
Both knew that busy men must be men of devout hearts. They knew that the great world is the unseen, How few weary, doubting people should we have, if we were all men
of prayer. In everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, we must make known our wants unto God; and then the peace of God, which passeth understanding, shall keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
There was once a company of learned men in Italy, who used to meet for artistic and literary conversation. Like other societies of the same kind, they chose a name, a motto, and an emblem. The emblem was a sieve, and the motto, "Till all the impure part is gone." They meant, I suppose, to express the great truth that men's opinions and words must be sifted and tried, till the worthless is got rid of, and only the pure is left.
As I read in the Latin book I thought of my God. He tries men, His creatures, and often sore and long is the trial, Why? Is it not that the evil may pass from us? That is our Father's plan. I must be sifted that sin may be sifted away, and my soul prepared for the garner of God. Great, wise Master, give me patience and gratitude!
This morning, as I stood at a bookstall, these lines in a hymn met my eye
"I have a quiet nook of peace,
A spot untroubled by the storms."
And, as I lifted up my face and looked at the blue sky, thinking of the words, I imagined some quiet country garden, far from city hurry and pressure, a summer-house with roses, a cottage steeped in calm and loveliness. But when my eyes fell again on the page I found it was a closet.
Ah, dear soul! that is the true home of peace where Christ meets us. Prayer is better than the breath of flowers. How far we travel, what pains we take, to find joy. It is beside us, for the Father is near. Enter into thy closet,