Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

one who has many a time and oft charmed and instructed us with his wayside rambles, and his pathetic season-stories. So, dear B., tell your Christmas musings in your own way:

A CHRISTMAS CONTEMPLATION-CHIME-BORN.

Glory be to God on high!

Christ is born to-day :
Pence on earth, and charity-

Christ is born to-day.
Stars from heaven look wondering down
On the Lord that left his throne ;
White-robed angels, golden-erowned,
Strike their harps with joyful sound-

Glory be to God on high!

Christ is born to-day;
Peace on earth and charity-
Christ is born to-day,"

-JOHN FRANCIS WALLER. It was my lot to be a sojourner in hawks issuing from captivity into the Shrewsbury on the Christmas-day of glad and eager air,” and rising, and 18—. The weather was open, and floating, and falling, and succeeding without frost; and the morning, which each other, like tempest-tost waves had commenced with clouds, had wept breaking on the shore, and blending its mists away, and by noontide, sun- up, without one discord, in the soundlight poured in broad lines down upon ing and elastic concert that seemed to the streets and sparkling pavé of the pervade all space from sky to earth, beautiful old town, where are to be to welcome in the happy day on which seen, more than perhaps in any other Christ was born. place in the kingdom, the most delight- And oh ! how musical and sweet are fully quaint and ancient houses, rare these Salopian bells, ringing in the specimens of the early English style, “ delicate air" of that lovely pastoral and withal so neat, and trim, and cu. and woodland shire, and along its conrious, that each in its peculiar structure, terminous counties, and onward and if it could be supposed capable of com- northward, from place to place, and up pression into miniature dimensions, and to ancient Oswestry, which takes its of being put under a glass bell, would name from Northumbria's hapless king, grace the table of the most recherchê Oswald, slaughtered here by heathen drawing-room as an ornament, or en- Penda, King of Mercia ; and off to rich the shelves of a museum as a cu- verdant Vale Crucis, amidst its wooded rious specimen of obsolete home archi- hills; and to romantic Chirk, and gentecture. Around many of these old tle Wrexham, where the princely old domiciles the winter sun, like a merry tower of the grand and many-winand hale old man, was shining warmly; dowed church, “ The Pride of Wales," while through the soft, gleaming, misty flings into the air from its exquisite air the bells from the different churches bells a crash of metallic harmony most were clashing and striking in sonorous rich and clear, wakening up the echos, and graceful confusion. Steeple after and filling with music all the soft valsteeple awoke, and tower after tower leys, where Gresford answers from her spoke out, each sending forth its clang, steeples in a ring of bells, the sweetest ing summons, as if in harmonious and to be heard within the whole girth of exciting rivalry with its neighbour. merry England ; and their silvery caFirst the bells from St. Mary's began dence, mingling with the deeper tones the descant, and were answered by the that break from Wrexham's tower, are iron tongues of St. Julian's; and im- borne onward in softer vibrations to mediately after, with brazen voices, the banks of Dee, or die, like the defrom ancient Aukman's, swinging their parting spirit of sound, in a faint and stern challenge to the wind; then, circling ripple, against the grey and from a distance, more faintly and castled walls of Chester, sweetly, arose upon the ear the Abbey And thus, upon that bright and chimes; while proudly crowning the happy festival, and in the quaint, and river bank, St. Chad sent forth, un- proud, and ancient town, after I had wearied, peal upon peal of loud and joined in the church services, I strolled jubilant notes and lifesome tones, out- down to the Quarry Walk, which leaping from their tower, like wild stretches along "the gentle Severnos sedgy banks,” and again the bells, tive of the matter - they were from which had been resting during church Waller's “ Ravenscroft Hall :"hours, suddenly broke out, startling

"And then the brattle of the sweet-tongued bells, the ear of silence, and filling all the Clanging and clashing pealed into the morn, air, and coming hurrying across the A joyous chime to welcome Christmas in. fields, and floating over the “crisp

The stranger started, for those jocund tones

Rang on his heart as old familiar sounds, waves " of the river, and reverberating Calling to mind the times when, as a boy, amidst the denuded branches of the He loved to chaunt those solemn hymns of old

Which saints and holy fathers of the Church deaf and still old limes which sentinel

Have left as precions gifts to later times, the Walk, with such a life and exhila- It seemed as though sweet voices in the air ration of sounding, shaking, bursting

Gave utterance to his thoughts in strains like thek harmony, as to stir my blood to its

** Oh te laudum millibus

Laudo, laudo, laudo ; fountain, and almost bring tears to my

Tantis mirabilibus eyes.

Plaudo, plaudo, plaudo.

Gloria sit gloria, And again, in the evening, as I sat

Amanti memoria, in my solitary lodging, the bells once

Domino in altis,

Cui testimonia more leaped up into life, but as it

Dantur et preconia seemed to me in a fainter strain, as if

Calicis a psaltis." their joy were dulled by weariness ; yet still as distinct in their articula- And I thought of a curious Latin dis. tion, and as melodious in their roll,

tich I bad met in an old volume, * and full of mellow sweetness—saluting

which, if my memory betray me not, the night. The full white moon, like

runs thusa silver Greek shield, lay on the bo- “Funera plango-Fulmina frango—Sabbata panga som of the sky, and seemed to be look- Excito lentos-Dissipo ventos-Paco eruentos. ing down calmly, through the air, rent

Thus speak the bells, or rather one, and agitated with sound, on the brave old town and circling bills. Then sud

on the part of the whole peal, detaildenly the bells ceased, music and mo

ing their beneficent uses to the church tion, their last intonation died into

and mankind in general. The lines,

which are monk-Latin, and savour of silence, and they hung still as death in

doggrel, may be rendered thus, though their cold tower-tomb; and their soul,

I am afraid they lose but little of their which is sound, was suspended, and

doggrel character by their transpositheir sweetness lingered like an echo

tion to the following rhymes :around my heart.

And then I fell into a musing fit as "Dead bewailing-Thunder breakingto what the melody of these bells might

Sabbath hailing-dull awaking:

Causing stormy winds to cease, be brought to teach, and how I could

Calming cruel hearts to peace." interpret their tongues into intelligent expression, and what was the actual But this did not suit the spirit I was sentence of distinct speech conveyed then in ; nor a second couplet framed, it in their exulting octaves, and some would appear, on the same principle of sweet lines floated into the stream of making the sound an echo to the sense, iny memory, suggestive and descrip- and running thus:

" Laudo Deum verum-Plebem Foco-conjugo clerum

Defunctos ploro--Pestem fugo-festa decoro,"

which may be rendered, in a free and easy translation, thus

The true God adoring.
The lost dead deploring.

The people inviting.
The clergy uniting.

The pestilence chesing.
The festivals gracing.

So I determined to extract a sen- no doubt, I thought I could frame their tence for myself, and compel their language thuspealing changes to express a great and simple truth, and one consonant to this glorious festival ; and Fancy aiding me And thus, having vocalised the bells to

A SAVIOUR IS BORN-CHRIST THE LORD.

* "Weever on Funeral Monuments." These lines form the motto before Schiller's "Song of the Bell."

my satisfaction, and bestowed upon And then, again, I called back my them so blessed and annunciatory an thoughts from the wide air where they expressiveness, I went back with great were careering like eagles on the wind, delight to their now parted music, and with the vibrations of the bells, and felt that they had been all the day brought them down to bear upon the preaching to my spirit through my OBJECT of all this loud and laudatory sense, and tuning it, while they taught harmony. And here at once the great it, eloquently and well.

fact came in view the great and maAnd then I found my thoughts es- jestic fact, which brought Heaven saying to consider the action of these down to earth, and lifts earth to Heabells in the light of a moral symbol. ven; which uncurtains the thoughts What large and loving invitations do and the throne of God; which involves they give with their clear, persuasive and affects the eternal future of all voices, calling through the wide-spread rational being, and will yet cause the and unchartered air, sounding, irre

material universe to thrill to her centre, spectively to all alike, as sweet and as and break forth into songs of gratulaimpartial to one as to every one—just tion. Yet all this majestic fact, and as God's sun and rain shines and all the greatness of circumstance con. streams indifferently on the evil and nected with it, is here narrowed down the good — the just and the unjust. to the smallest possible point; for in How catholic are they in their rever- the manger cradle of Bethlehem was berations, as their reiterating changes Heaven's Glory curtained and containgo pealing up the lawn, and in through ed; and the Day-spring of the world the doors and windows of the noble's eclipsed, and the Bright and Morning castle, and thence, borne on the “invi- Star of all intelligent and spiritual sible and creeping wind," pass on across being suffered occultation. flere it his grounds, to visit, with as full a was that Deity approximated to freight of harmony and song, some dust, that Eternity stooped to Time, poor man's humble cottage which skirts that Infinity put on the trammels of the wood, charming the ear and cheer- Limitation, that Immortality was linked ing the heart of each and all alike in with the sufferings of Nature, and all every rank of life--the lord and the that was loftiest in heaven became all labourer, the sovereign and his serf ; that was most lowly on earth; for unto and thus uniting and inviting all who us this day a SAVIOUR IS BORN-CARIST belong to our common Christendom, to

THE LORD. come to the house of prayer, to hear And from this manger-cradle (my of God's great love to the wide, wide thoughts rapidly assuming a kind of world, because that

visionary character) seemed to proA SAVIOUR IS BORN-CHRIST THE LORD.

ceed rays of yellow golden light,

which fell upon the forms gathered Oh! large-hearted and liberal bells, round, and associated with its history. how you express, in the outbreakings I looked at them personally with a of your melody, the illimitable good feeling produced by the individual inwill of Him whose earthly nativity you

terest each possessed; but I felt mywould celebrate! Your joyous peals

self also regarding them as symbols or are heart-music for the million; and representatives of large and distinct Heaven's sweet love, that willeth not classes among the great believing fathat any should die, is told forth mily. of man-worshippers of “God through the sonorous symbol of your

manifest,” and walkers in His ways. wide-sounding peals, which, in notes There I beheld the gentle Mother, the of varied tone and shifting power and loveliest type of pure and exalted woof pathos, seem to plead chidingly manhood to be found in any history, with the dubious, to complain mourn

the fountain of meek thoughts and fully with the wayward, to startle the heart-ponderings--the pattern of chasinert to life, to sympathise melodious

tened and reverential love—the very ly with the good, and to call and joy- glass and form of humble and unobfully invite all souls, and sinners, and

trusive holiness. And I beheld the shades of the great human family, to angels stooping from heaven to earth the one prepared and happy home,

to minister to their Maker as a man, over whose portal is written

and to wait upon their Creator as upon one created.

And I saw the A SAVIOUR IS BORN-CHRIST THE LORD. magi, star-led and spirit-taught, sons of the Orient, and legendary kings at all the companions of His ascension, His events full of royal gifts, and therefore worshippers in glory, His winged and powerful, because wealth is power- willing ministers to do His pleasure, eminent, and learned, and wise. And bearkening to the voice of His mouth. I bebeld Joseph, the babe's reputed And I thought that one of the luminous father, with his sense of justice, and paths was occupied by the feminine his spirit of obedience, faithful and body, of whom the Blessed Virgin, the forbearing; of kingly descent, high- mother of our Lord's bumanity, was born, but a mechanic, eating indepen the typ sand head; and here were thou. dent bread by the labour of his hands sands of faithful and meek-hearted 70and the sweat of his brow-a noble men, who had loved their Lord, and lived artisan. And the shepherds, too, I and died for His sake, sealing their faith saw bending over the infant form of by martyrdom, and writing a record of the feeble one who was to become the their truth in letters of blood on the Head and Pillar of their class the stone-floor of their dungeon, or on the Good Shepherd-the Great Shepherd sand of the arena, or at the burning -the Chief Shepherd, who lived, and stake. died, and rose again, to serve and save And some of the faithful ones I the flock He loved. And as my fancy could recognise. There was meek-eyed went on creating and moulding things Hannah, and Ruth with the ferven old and new, my mind became con- soul; and the deep-hearted one who centred and was lost in them, and I said, “ All is well,” “ All shall be thought that outward and customary well ;" and she who was over-earobjects had all dissolved and passed nest in her household; and she who away, and that a broad circle,or radiant sat at our Lord's feet uplistening; and belt of light, filled all space, sweeping she who washed those feet with tears, round and coextensive with the bounds commingling grief and love. And noof time-a shining zodiac, having its ble matrons were there, whose fame is periphery graduated by centuries; and written in ancient Church chronicle, its radii were wide, and luminous and thousands of unrecorded ones, but paths, all tending and stretehing in to whose names are with God on high; one great and common centre, from and many whose lot was cast in the whence the light went forth, and to fiery days of cruel persecution, marwhich it returned, as earth's rivers tyrs from the Waldensian Valley, or flow and fall into the ocean from whence the wild and heathery moors of Scotthey derive so much of their fulness. land. And I saw that this grand centre con- And I thought that another of these tained two prominent objects, which broad paths of light was trodden by the were the manger and the cross the rich, represented by one of the magi

. alpha and the omega of His earthly There was he, the high father of the anhumiliation who lay in the one, and cient people, opulent in flocks, and died upon the other; but they were herds, and gold, and silver, but richer standing up in a glory from which far in self-denying faith ; and he who streamed forth rays of a dazzling and walked in the fields at noon among his intolerable brightness ; and these out- servants, and got and gave the blesward and material ensigns of his birth sing; and he who came to Jesus and his death seemed inevitably to at- by night; and he who went boldly in tract the regards of the parties who had to the Roman governor for his Lord's gone up to Bethlehem, and who now body, and buried it in his own fresh seemed to occupy each a luminous path, tomb; and millions of the high and as a representative of their own pecu- wealthy-born, occupying all periods of liar class. And I thought that the time, and clime of Christendom. And angels had their path as the work of one among that throng, * of modern His hands, the servants of His throne, days, a son of Britain, who, like the the heralds of His birth, the adminis- Master whom he loved, went about trators to His wants and weariness in doing good, and broke the bars of the wilderness, His strengtheners in many a prison-house, and made the His passion, the watchmen at His captive's heart to sing, and now sleeps tomb, the witnesses of His resurrection, in Jesus, on a savage and far strand,

* John Howard died at Cherson.

washed by the dull Euxine waves, and And he was there, the champion of beside the freezing Dnieper.

the truth, the asserter of the freedom And methought another of the ra- of the mind, descending like a lion diant roads was occupied by the wise from the forests of the North. Dauntand learned. And this body was re- less of heart, swift of foot, stern of presented by a second of the magi. purpose, unswerving of principle ; & And here were the Prophets, and Evan- great and majestic king, an uncongelists, and Apostles; and the Chris- quered soldier, a noble-hearted man, tian fathers and confessors of the Gos- a friend, tender and true, a loving and pel; and the stout Reformers, whose faithful Christian. See him just beeloquence shook the Church, and elec- fore some of those dreadful battles trified the world. And he was there, * which he fought for the liberties of that rarely gifted one, who, at the age Europe, and when victory ever sat like of twenty-four, cast under his feet all a star on his helm. See him and all the vast honours which successful his splendid army prostrate in prayer science had in store for her brilliant for Divine help, and then rising with son, that he might walk disentangled, the war-cry on their lips of " Immaserving God with the great heart and nuel, God with us,” and precipitating wondrous reason he had given him. themselves on the foe, who fled before And het whose glorious mind soared, the tempest of their battle like a drilike an archangel, among the stars on ven leaf. And an aged and illustrious the wings of Science, yet sat at Reve- king was there, one whose hand could lation's footstool in the simplicity of confer the proudest coronet in Europe, a perfect faith. And hef who, though and over whose dominions the sun of stained deeply with the clay of earth, heaven never went down; one whose yet thought as no man ever thought, armies marched but where victory met and wrote as no man ever wrote; and and embraced them, and whose fleet from the pinnacle of his surpassing in- swept through the illimitable main as tellect, which searched and mastered a queen and mistress. Yet, this man all knowledge, looked down into the of power and dominion, this exalted manger cradle, and adored Incarnate monarch, where do we now behold him? * Love, and, doubtless, was forgiven. He is kneeling on the green sod of his

And I saw that another of these own royal forest, with the great oaks radiating paths was held by the pow. standing, as if in dumb amaze, around erful and the kingly class, represented him ; kneeling as

man and a by the third of the magi. And here I Christian would kneel, beside one of saw one with the likeness of a royal the meanest of his subjects, a dying crown, in Saxon garb, and eminent in gipsy, whose last faint moments he is beauty, grace, and attractiveness. His strengthening and sweetening by his sword was girded on his thigh-his tenderness and his teaching; and the bow was slung across his back-his prayer of the loftest in the land and ready pen was in his hand_his feet the lowliest went up together to God were on the necks of the cruel in

in that hour through the still forest vaders of his country—and his Bible

air.ll was in his heart. The dauntless sol- And another of the dazzling paths dier, the wise legislator, the scholar, was occupied by the vast thrcng who the monarch, and the Christian-and were employed in mechanical life, or Alfred was before me. And he was wore the honoured name of artist; there, the monarch with the heaven- and of this class Joseph was the head sent crown, whose hands slew the

and type. Amidst this crowd I saw giant; and struck the harpstrings; and the two artificer Jews whom God did when fevered with the heat and thirst call by name, and fill with knowledge of battle, poured the sweet water of in all manner of workmanship, and his native well upon the ground, be- Paul the Apostle, a tent-maker, yet a cause it had been procured at the risk friend of God's. I knew him by the of the life and the blood of his fellow- light in his eyes, and the heaven on

a

his brow. And one, in modern days

men.

* Blaise Pascal.
§ Gustavus Adolphus.

† Newton.

| Bacon. | Alluding to a well-known story of George III.

« ПредишнаНапред »