« AnteriorContinuar »
warmly maintained his point against the united | pends upon himself; the blessing of God forces of his mother and myself.
follows the hand of the diligent.' “Kate is a sensible girl,” said Frederic, good- " While he was yet speaking with his son, a humouredly. “You think as I do, don't you, messenger arrived from a distant city, the Kate?”
bearer of a letter from his brother Jorah. “Do not be too sure of that, Fred," she Distress, sudden and severe, had fallen upon answered. “The fact is, your conversation has him: the hand of God was pressing him sore. put me in mind of a fanciful tale, written some Fire and flood had devoured his possessions; years ago by an old schoolfellow; and I am sickness had weakened his strength by the almost resolved to inflict upon you the penalty way. He therefore entreated his brother Eli of reading it, as a punishment for your heresy." | to lend him fifty pieces of silver, to preserve
“No, no,” replied her brother; “read it him and the wife and children of his bosom yourself, and welcome-that is, if our friend from ruin. here is willing to listen."
Ben Amram was angry because his brother Of course I expressed a wish to hear the had become poor; and he said to his son story, and-here it is.
“I will send him six times as much as he " THE UNSEEN HAND.
asks, but withal I will rebuke him sharply; · Eli Ben Amram was one of the richest of for he hath been negligent. A wise and prohis tribe. He had risen from humble circum- dent man will guard against evil, or, foreseeing stances to high honour,-from poverty to great it, he will hide himself. It is the fool alone wealth. His ships floated on many seas; his who, passing on, is punished. He will thrive merchandise was the produce of numerous well who looketh to his own affairs. Go, my lands; his fame resounded through all his son, entertain the messenger until I have nation. Yet did not the fortunes of Eli Ben written to my brother.' Amram cause him to forget the God of his “So Ben Amram wrote a letter to his brother, fathers; he was learned in the law of Moses, full of bitter words; and putting into a bag and in the traditions of the Elders. He ob. three hundred pieces of silver, which afterserved every feast and every fast; he paid wards he secured with his own signet, he sat tithes and gave alms; moreover, he built a down to await the return of the messenger. synagogue. Rich was the smoke of his morn- "Suddenly the spirit of slumber fell upon ing and evening sacrifices, and frequent were Ben Amram, and glimpses of the invisible his devotions.
were revealed to him in visions. Before him “But where is the perfect man? One pre- stood a youth, of noble and commanding form, cept did Eli Ben Amram forget to cherish in and clothed in foreign garb. In his hand he his memory: ‘Beware lest thou say in thine held a wand of ivory. A strange awe op. heart, My power and the might of mine hand pressed the mind of Ben Amram as he gazed hath gotten me this wealth. He had sustained on the visitant. Nevertheless, though subhis aged parents in comfort; he had given his dued, his spirit sank not in utter dismay. sister Keturah in marriage, with a princely “Eli Ben Amram,' said the stranger, 'canst portion; he had bestowed on his younger thou avoid the poverty into which thy brother brother, Jorah, a thousand pieces of silver Jorah hath fallen P' wherewith to traffic; many had he befriended, “Ben Amram smiled proudly as he replied, and he thought himself better than they, I have avoided it.' inasmuch as he had wisdom to amass riches. " " Hitherto thou hast,' said the stranger ; He praised his God for blessings bestowed, 'or, rather, hitherto God hath prospered the while yet his soul vaunted itself in that he work of thy hands, and given thee wealth: had turned those blessings to his own advan- He may also withdraw it.' tage-not remembering that the Lord his “The blessing of God,' answered Ben Am. God had given him the power to get wealth. ram, 'is on the diligent and prudent man.'
" When Jotham, Ben Amrain's eldest son, “Wealth is not always a blessing,' replied had attained the age of manhood, his father the stranger, ‘inasmuch as mortals sometimes gave him a purse of gold, and bade him go use it to their own hurt. Yet it is one of the and make merchandise therewith.
good gifts of God, which He bestoweth on one, “* Be diligent, my son,' he said, “be pru- and withholdeth from another. Eli Ben Am. dent, and be fortunate. A man's success de. rám, look on the past !!. 1.X /
"The visitor waved his wand, and passed will. It prospered his traffic, and removed his his hand over the eyes of Ben Amram. Then rivals from his path. It gave him ships, and did a thick mist fill the apartment, while a sped them safely and prosperously over the cold thrill agitated for a moment the frame of
It defended him from losses, and asthe boastful merchant. The mist divided, and sisted his schemes. It guided him in the Ben Amram saw in distant perspective the choice of a residence, and directed him to the home of his childhood. Youthful forms were partner of his life. It gave him the desire of sporting round the well-remembered hearth. his heart. It raised him to honour and fame. He knew them to be his brother Jorah and his “ He saw the Hand beckoning as bis sister Keturah, while with another shadowy brother's messenger drew near; and then the form he felt himself to be identified. The scene was obscured—the mist again filled the thoughts and feelings of childhood returned, apartment. and he lived, as it were, a double life: a grave *** Eli Ben Amram,' said the visitor, “thou and thoughtful man, and a simple, reckless hast seen the sign of the Invisible, upholding boy. In that mysterious moment, not only
the hand of the diligent through the past. did his actual life pass in review before him, Look now upon the future!' but shadowed on that mist were the good and " Again he waved the wand, and placed, for evil influences by which, in those earlier stages an instant, his hand upon the eyes of Ben of existence, he had been surrounded.
Amram. The mist once more divided. He "He saw that boy environed by perils and saw his brother, worn with poverty and wasted temptations; heedless and unconscious of them by sickness. He marked the anguish of his all, yet escaping them. Another step in that spirit as he read the reproachful letter. He course would have brought him within the saw the shadowy HAND over him also; but grasp of death, when suddenly it was aban. again the scene was changed. doned. Another movement in this direction “A ship sailed on a distant sea. That HAND would have plunged him into errors as fatal to raised the waves and winds to a storm, and the spirit, when, without adequate apparent impelled the vessel to destruction. The owner
. cause, he stopped, and turned aside.
was impoverished ;—and he was indebted to “Why doth the child avoid the dangers he Ben Amram for the sum of four thousand knoweth not of ?' asked Ben Amram.
pieces of silver. “. Look more closely,' said the stranger. “And now the shiftings of the scene increased
“And when Ben Amram looked, he saw, in rapidity; yet still the HAND was there. hovering above and around the boy, dim and Jorah repaid the three hundred pieces of money; shadowy, yet becoming more distinct the while Ben Amram's eldest daughter Rachel longer it was gazed on, the form of a HAND. returned a destitute and mourning widow to It was this HAND, he now saw, which guided her father's house. The ship in which Jotham and upheld; interposed when danger was near, sailed was attacked, the passengers were robbed and averted the threatened stroke.
and taken captive, and an exorbitant ransom “The boy became a man, and the HAND was was demanded. Ben Amram paid the sum, still near him, protecting, restraining, con- and Jotham returned in nakedness and want. trolling, supporting, directing. In the in Fire devoured the possessions of one debtor; tricate paths of youth, in the rougher ways of blight and mildew destroyed those of another. manhood, its powerful yet gentle influence was Famine and pestilence wasted the land; the alike felt. Ben Amram remembered circum- sources of commerce failed. Ben Amram's stances of perplexity in which he thought he boasted sagacity seemed to forsake him. Per. had been guided by his own wisdom, but in plexed and bewildered, he felt himself unable which, as he now saw, the shadowy Hand had to stem the current of adverse circumstances. pointed to a right decision. Sometimes he had His younger son, Eliab, risked his patrimony spurned its influence, and had fallen. Then in a commercial adventure; it failed, and he the Hand had raised him, succoured him, and lost all. His daughter Miriam was sought in continued its unwearied task. Sometimes its marriage by one whose character and pros. movements were involved in mystery; the pects appeared promising. The influence of mist would gather round, and he could see the warning HAND were disregarded, and Ben neither its operations nor its object.
Amram discovered too late that he had be"Ben Amram saw that HAND pouring stowed the darling of his heart on an unprin. wealth at his feet, which he might gather at cipled adventurer.
"In all these changes that HAND was seen "From that hour was Eli Ben Amram never mingling, more shadowy and mysterious, yet heard to vaunt himself in his wisdom or his still visible. Ben Amram saw himself, not- wealth; and if one praised his skill and success withstanding all his efforts, reduced to utter —and men will praise thee when thou doest poverty; and then, through the mist, he per- well to thyself,'—he would reply, 'Nay, but it ceived approaching him his brother Jorah. was the good hand of my God upon me.' And He shrank from him, for he feared to have when he admonished his children to attend retorted upon him his own reproaches.
diligently and circumspectly to their affairs, “. My brother,' said Jorah, “the good hand he added this caution, . Above all things, seek of God has been with me, and has given me the guidance and protection of The UNSEEN competence. Come and share it with me; I HAND.'" have enough for thee and me.'
“Then did Eli Ben Amram exclaim, “The “I am not to lrave you on my side, Kate, I Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: see,” said Frederic, when his sister had finished blessed be the name of the Lord.'
reading the manuscript, " but for all that, and “At this instant the door of the apartment in spite of your pretty story, I am not con opened, and with his son Jotham entered the verted, mind." messenger of his brother. Ben Amram looked around him : the stranger was gone, and the Not long ago I met Frederic Heath under mist had vanished. The letter he had written other circumstances. His self-sufficiency had was before him. He consumed it in the flame disappeared; his tone was subdued and humof the lamp that burned in the hearth, and in bled. He had learned by experience that its stead he penned a kind and sympathising “The race is not" always "to the swift, nor message to his brother.
the battle to the strong."
HERE is a class of sufferings almost might be cited of equal merit. There is one
sublimated and purified from per- given in an American school-book, about fifty sonal ambition, or from the thought years ago, which was sure to be selected by
that the act of doing or enduring is some boy at the competition readings, and to bring any glory or good to the actor. These which always made even the little children on are found especially among those impulsive the lowest benches hold their breath as they and unselfish deeds of pure benevolence which listened to the thrilling narrative. shine out, like diamond stars, from “ the sim.
m- Boer at the ple annals of the poor.” Not that the chivalry Cape of Good Hope. An English East India
. of rank has not been studded with gems bril. man had run upon a reef or bar of sand, a long liant with the lustre of these acts; but, in a way from the shore. The roaring, foaming ground of refined cultivation and highly edu- seas were leaping upon the deck, and stamping cated sensibilities, such acts do not shine with it to pieces.
They had crushed the boats like such brightness as from the frosty firmament so many eggshells, and the frantic passengers
a poor man's life. Indeed, if one of Heaven's were shrieking in the tempest for help. The angels who began life a thousand years before Dutch settlers saw the sight and heard the Adam, had bethought him to keep an album cry, and rushed down to the beach, apparently of the choicest human actions, from the first to do nothing but see the waters swallow up man down to time's end, its best pages would the men and women clinging to the rigging doubtless have been given to the unselfish of the broken vessel ; for they had no boat to doings and endurings of poor men, women, push out into the surge, and none was within and children.
an hour's reach. The wreck would go to It seems almost invidious to the record to pieces before a raft could be made, or any. point to two or three examples, when hundreds thing floated from the shore. • "The Mission of Great Sufferings." By Elihu Burritt. London: Sampson Low, Son, and Marston. Sec Review, p. 546.
Human help there was none at first sight. and he put his arm around her neck fondly But, at the sharpest crisis of the agony, a and tenderly. She rubbed her head against Datch farmer galloped down to the sea on an his cheek, as if she said, “Master, if you Arabian mare that was like another life to
it, I'll try." He mounted her back, and, withhim—that bar carried him through all the ont sense of spur or rein, she turned and hazards of the wide world and its wilder walked straight into the foaming sea. Slowly, beasts, and seemed to share her master's in- painfully, with weakening strokes, she made telligence, and divine as well as obey his will. her way to the ship, and once more headed for She bad swum rivers and waded morasses with the shore with the last passengers clinging to him on her back; and now he spurred her
With hands and voices uplifted through the crowd, and, without a moment's stood the crowd on the beach : “ O God of panse, plunged into the sea with a rope at- mercy and might, give the poor creature tached to her tail. The brave creature shrank strength for this once!” Her head is lost for not an instant from the fierce wrestle with the a moment. " It's the wave between. There ! baying waves. She struck them down with she rises! see her mane on that white-cap. her ironed hoofs, and breasted her way to the O God, be merciful! Do you see her now ?" ship's side. It was but a minute's stay, and “No; but I see good Diedrich's hand above she was making for the shore again, trailing a the water, reaching towards us. Now it's row of men and women clinging to the rope. gone! Oh, poor, good man! he's gone down The shouts of the crowd awaiting to receive with his noble horse, and all the men he tried them seemed to thrill her strained muscles to save. Noble Diedrich! God bless his widow with a new vigour; and when her feet struck and fatherless children. Dear good man! he the earth, and she mounted on the beach and was thinking more of other men's widows and shook the salt water from her sides, she looked fatherless children than of his own when he around
upon the half-drowned beings she had made his last ride into the sea !” dragged to land and life, and it seemed given That was the act of a Dutch Boer on the to her of the God of us all to know that she coast of Africa; of a man belonging to a class had done a good act. Her master patted her which many writers of history and romance on the neck, as when they had faced lions overlook in seeking for great deeds of noble together in the desert; he patted her with chivalry, or for lofty sentiments of philaneyes turned towards the ship.
thropy or patriotism. If ever some one of the It was but a minute's pause :
6 Once more,
class fitted for the task should undertake to my Jenny, darling; once more !” and she write the history of common working men and turned her head and plunged again, without women of the world, deeds and dispositions touch of spur, into the sea.
Once more she of the same order of merit might be found to ploughed through the surge, snorting over its fill a bundred volumes.
From the example of this half-Africanised ship's side, and headed for the shore, trailing Dutchman of the Cape of Good Hope, let us another row of men behind her. Many times glance at a deed of daring for the lives of her head dipped above her nostrils in a break- others by the young daughter of a humble ing wave; many times she neighed as for lighthouse keeper, in the north of England, as help, as she struck out heavily with the long it stands out even now as an act of unsurload dragging her down. She neared the land, passed qualities in the record of poor men’s but more slowly than before, and staggered doings in the field of this unselfish heroism of up the ascent with trembling limbs.
the heart. The second long and desperate tug through On the Northumberland coast, some thirty the surge had strained every nerve and muscle years ago, a disabled steamer was blown at to its utmost tension, and she stood quivering, night into the iron-teethed jaws of a leash of blown and exhausted. There were several jagged islands, tethered out a few miles from more human beings left behind on the crash- the mainland, as if to catch and tear in pieces ing, broken hull. The darkness was closing lame and benighted vessels. The night was in upon them, and certain death with the
dark, the ship helpless, and the wind and tide darkness. The brave-hearted Dutchman heard pounded it with terrible blows, then lifted it that bitter cry, and saw the harrowing sight.
he deep-notched molar of one of the Could he do more ? Could he try it again ? black islands. And there at midnight, amid "Jenny, my darling! Jenny, can you do it ?” the fierce screeches of the hurricane, and the
shrieks of men, women, and children, the standing the rough tuition of storm and tempest vessel broke in twain ; the after part going and howling waves, and the midnight thunder down with the captain and half the passengers of the sea-beaten walls of the island. She had and crew. The fore part stuck fast, impaled on been brought up as tenderly by her parents as the projecting rock. There, crouching at the their circumstances would allow. bows, nine survivors watched for the morning Up to that morning she had never had as few human beings ever looked for its light. occasion to put her hands to an oar, or put The wind and waves, as if more furious for her life to the peril of the sea in any hazardous their prey by what they had already gorged, adventure. But now her girlhood's nature smote the fragment of the hull blows that felt the thrill of the bravest manhood's strength threatened to beat it from its holding every and courage, as she sighted, through her moment. Far up, in a forecastle berth, lay a father's telescope, after him, the broken hulk woman just widowed by the wreck. In her across the foaming channel. One by one she arnis lay two little children, cold and dead, picked out with the glass the half-drowned drowned as she held them to her breast, by the men, clinging to the windlass. Perhaps she inbreaking sea, which had nearly put out her caught a glimpse of the woman with the dead own life within her. Hours, that seemed to children at her breast. The white-crested seas the terrified watchers like whole years of came thundering in from the German ocean, ordinary suffering, passed one after the other; smiting the steep, black walls of the island. and the grey, cold light of the morning began Could a boat live in such wild eddies ? The to reveal the scene. Little by little, slowly- father, who had wrestled with a hundred seie oh, how slowly !-the dark curtain of the misty storms, was brave and strong, but he at first night was lifted, and the watchers descried recoiled from the hazard. Then it was that the white tower of the lighthouse on Long- the girl raised the latent heroism of his heart stone Island, like a pillar of cloud let down by the faith and courage of her own. from Heaven to their sight and salvation. And “ Father, we cannot see them perish. Father, from the small, deep-set windows in that white I will go with you in the boat.” tower, three pairs of human eyes were peering And the mother, with the fearful seas before out with keenest search upon the foaming her eyes, helped them to launch the boat, and ridges of the angry sea and the black walls of the next minute husband and daughter were the adjacent islands. God pity the poor sea- among the yeasty waves. farers driven on such a night into those terrible Bravely and steadily Grace kept stroke with jaws! In the broken slumbers of the night her father's oar. Many a time, and long at a that thought had moved each of those three time, the little wooden shell went out of the human hearts with the secret pulse of a prayer mother's sight, as she stood watching it with between dreaming and waking.
her all of this world staked in the venture. A father, mother, and daughter made up the But every time it arose up out of the trough isolated family. In that grey solitude, just in of the sea it was nearer the broken vessel. dim sight of the green world they seldom Slowly it approached; now it was near enough visited, with no sound to break the everlasting for the poor creatures on board to see who were silence but the voices of the sea around, and of coming for their deliverance. A few minutes the sea-birds and sea-winds above, they had more, and it was hard under the bows of the lived from year to year. Amid these voices wreck, in imminent danger of being dashed Grace Darling, the daughter, grew up from to pieces like an eggshell on the pointed rocks. childhood to young womanhood. The bare But the girl's faith steadied her father's thought crown of the little iron-bound island was all and hand at this most critical of all the moments her outdoor world, and the tall, hollow column they were out on the boisterous flood. One by of the lighthouse her only home. She was a one the passengers and crew-nine in allgoodly girl, was Grace Darling; and she had effected their descent into the boat, and the made the most of these few, but grand, com- woman whose children had been drowned in panionships of nature. Their teaching, and her arms was with them. One of the weather." such as good and honest parents and a small beaten sailors took Grace's oar, and thought shelf of healthy books could give, had done her an angel sent of God to save them; and much to give a pleasant and hopeful flowerage they all gazed at ber calm face with reverence to a kind and gentle nature. For her nature and wonder as the boat rode over the white was kind and gentle at twenty-two, notwith. waves toward the lighthouse. And to none