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the brim of their monstrous drinking-vessel. An ox is your true toper.
But I perceive, my dear auditors, that you are impatient for the remainder of my discourse. Impute it, I beseech you, to no defect of modesty, if I insist a little longer on so fruitful a topic as my own multifarious merits. It is altogether for your good. The better you think of me, the better men and women will you find yourselves. I shall say nothing of my all-important aid on washing-days, though on that account alone I might call myself the household god of a hundred families. Far be it from me also to hint, my respectable friends, at the show of dirty faces which you would present without my pains to keep you clean. Nor will I remind you how often, when the midnight bells make you tremble for your combustible town, you have fled to the Town Pump, and found me always at my post, firm amid the confusion, and ready to drain my vital current in your behalf. Neither is it worth while to lay much stress on my claims to a medical diploma -as the physician whose simple rule of practice is preferable to all the nauseous lore, which has found men sick or left them so, since the days of Hippocrates. Let us take a broader view of my beneficial influence on mankind.
No; these are trifles compared with the merits which wise men concede to me--if not in my single self, yet as representative of a class-of being the grand reformer of the age.
From my spout, and such spouts as mine, must flow the stream that shall cleanse our earth of the vast portion of its crime and anguish, which has gushed from the fiery fountains of the still. In this mighty enterprise the cow shall be my great confederate. Milk and water? The Town PUMP and the Cow ! Such is the glorious copartnership that shall tear down the distilleries and brewhouses, uproot the vineyards, shatter the cider-presses, ruin the drinking trade, and finally monopolize the whole business of quenching thirst. Blessed consummation! Then poverty shall pass away from the land, finding no hovel so wretched where her squalid form may shelter itself. Then Disease, for lack of other victims, shall gnaw its own heart and die. Then Sin, if she do not die, shall lose half her strength. Until now the frenzy of hereditary fever has raged in the human blood, transmitted from sire to son, and rekindled in every generation, by fresh draughts of liquid flame. When that inward fire shall be
extinguished, the heat of passion cannot but grow cool, and war -the drunkenness of nations—perhaps will cease. At least there will be no war of households. The husband and wife, drinking deep of peaceful joy-a calm bliss of temperate affections--shall pass hand in hand through life, and lie down, not reluctantly, at its protracted close. To them the past will be no turmoil of mad dreams, nor the future an eternity of such moments as follow the delirium of the drunkard. Their dead faces shall express what their spirits were, and are to be, by a lingering smile of memory and hope.
Ahem! Dry work, this speechifying ; especially to an unpractised orator. I never conceived till now what toil the temperance lecturers undergo for my sake. Hereafter they shall have the business to themselves. Do, some kind Christian, pump a stroke or two, just to wet my whistle. Thank you, sir! My dear hearers, when the world shall have been regenerated by my instrumentality, you will collect your useless vats and liquor-casks into one great pile, and make a bonfire in honour of the Town Pump. And when I shall have decayed, like my predecessors, then, if you revere my memory, let a marble fountain, richly sculptured, take my place upon this spot. Such monuments should be erected everywhere, and inscribed with the names of the distinguished champions of my cause. Now, listen ; for something very important is to come next.
There are two or three honest friends of mine and true friends I know they are—who, nevertheless, by their fiery pugnacity in my behalf, do put me in fearful hazard of a broken nose, or even a total overthrow
the pavement, and the loss of the treasure which I guard.
pray you, gentlemen, let this fault be amended. Is it decent, think you, to get tipsy with zeal for temperance, and take
up the honourable cause of the Town Pump, in the style of a toper fighting for his brandy bottle ? Or, can the excellent qualities of cold water be not otherwise exemplified than by plunging, slapdash, into hot water, and wofully scalding yourselves and other people ? Trust me, they may. In the moral warfare which you are to wage—and indeed in the whole conduct of your lives—you cannot choose a better example than myself, who have never permitted the dust and sultry atmosphere, the turbulence and manifold disquietudes of the world around me, to reach that deep, calm well of purity, which may be called my soul. And whenever I pour out that soul, it is to cool earth's fever, or cleanse its stains.
One o'clock! Nay, then, if the dinner-bell begins to speak, I may as well hold my peace. Here comes a pretty young girl of my acquaintance with a large stone pitcher for me to fill. Hold out your vessel, my dear! There it is, full to the brim ; so now run home, peeping at your sweet image in the pitcher as you go ; and forget not, in a glass of my own liquor, to drink—“SUCCESS TO THE Town PUMP.”
ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS.
It is difficult, under the circumstances, to imagine a fitter scene for a new revelation than was the wilderness of Sinai to the Israelites. They had left the land of Egypt; they had come out of the house of bondage, into a land as different, into a life as new, as it was possible to conceive. Instead of the green valley of the one abundant, beneficent river, where water and vegetation never failed, they were in “ the great and terrible wilderness," where a spring in each day's march—the bitter waters of Marah here, the isolated grove of Elim there was all that they could expect to cheer them. Instead of the endless life and stir which ran through the teeming population of Egypt, the song, and dance, and feast; the armies passing through the hundred gates ; the flags with their brilliant colours flying from the painted gateways; the king at the head of vast processions with drum and cymbal, and the rattle of his thousand chariots,—there was the deep silence of the desert, broken by no echo of human voice, by no cry of innumerable birds, by no sound of rushing waters,—broken only by the trumpet, which at early dawn and fall of day roused the tribes from their slumbers, or called them to their rest. For a time, the Red Sea was in sight. Once, after they had struck far into the desert, the hills opened before them (we may be allowed to dwell upon it as the most authentic spot ascertainable in their wanderings), and the familiar sea—their ancient enemy and their ancient friend—burst with its flashing waters upon them, and they encamped once more upon its shining beach, and looked once more upon the distant range of the African hills, the hills of the land of their captivity. It was a moment, such as occurs from time to time in the history of men and of nations, to remind them from what dangers and by what means they had escaped. Onwards they went, and the desert itself now changed into vaster and stranger shapes than they had ever known before. Here and there, it may be, amongst the host, was an Israelite who had seen the granite hills of Ethiopia ; but, taking them generally, the ascent of these tremendous passes, the sight of those towering peaks, must have been to them as the awful retreats of Delphi to the invaders of Greece, as the Alps to the invaders of Italy. Rumours of these mysterious mountains, no doubt, had reached them, even in their house of bondage. “ A three days' journey into the desert to sacrifice to the Lord” was a proposal not unfamiliar to the ears of Pharaoh ; and, as they now mounted into the higher region of that desert, they would perceive traces that the Egyptians had been there before them. Here, they might see a lonely hill, surrounded by ancient monuments, sepulchres, temples, quarries, unquestionably the work of Egyptian hands. There, they might see in a retired valley, hieroglyphics carved deep in the soft sandstone rock, extending back to the builder of the great pyramid, whose figure can be traced here in the desert cliffs, when it has perished everywhere in his own tomb and country. But no report, no experience of individuals, could have prepared them for the scene, as it must have presented itself to a whole host scaling that fortress,—that towering outpost of the Holy Land. Staircase after staircase, formed by no human hand, in the side of the rocky walls, brought them (by whatever approach they came) into the loftier and still loftier regions of the mountain platform. Well may the Arab tribes suppose that these rocky ladders were called forth by the rod of Moses, to help their onward progress.
But this period had a special bearing on the history of Israel. It was their beginning as a people ; it was their conversion or their reconversion to the true faith ; it had all the faults and all the excellencies which such a new start of life always presents. With all its faults and shortcomings, it was the spring-time of their national existence. “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.”
“ When Israel was
a child, then I loved him.” “The Law,” we are told, was
a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ.” “Mount Sinai, in Arabia,” is opposed, both in preparation and in contrast, to the heavenly and free Jerusalem which is above. But, even in the earlier stages of the history of the Jewish Church, the Law was a schoolmaster, and Mount Sinai was a school, for the dispensation and for the possession even of the earthly Jerusalem.
And now they approach the first great halting-place, known by that special name Rephidim, “ the places of rest." We know not the spot with certainty. Yet of all localities hitherto imagined, that which was believed to be so in the fifth century at least answers the requirements well ;—the beautiful palm grove, now and for many ages past called the valley of Paran, or Feiran.
Rephidim was but the threshold of Sinai. “In the third month they departed from Rephidim, and pitched in the wilderness of Sinai.” Onwards and upwards, after their long halt, exulting in their first victory, they advanced deeper and deeper into the mountain ranges, they knew not whither. They knew only that it was for some great end, for some mighty sacrifice, for some solemn disclosure, such as they had never before witnessed. Onwards they went, and the mountains closed around them ; upwards through winding valley, and under high cliff, and over rugged pass, and through gigantic forms, on which the marks of creation even now seem fresh and powerful, and at last through all the different valleys, the whole body of the people were assembled. On their right hand and on their left rose long successions of lofty rocks, forming a vast avenue, like the approaches which they had seen leading to the Egyptian temples, between colossal figures of men and of gods. At the end of this broad avenue, rising immediately out of the level plain, on which they were encamped, towered the massive cliffs of Sinai, like the huge altar of some natural temple, encircled by peaks of every shape and height, the natural pyramids of the desert. In this sanctuary, secluded from all earthly things, raised high above even the wilderness itself, arrived, as it must have seemed to them, the
end of the world,—they waited for the revelation of God.
Lectures on the Jewish Church.