Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

her to have them done unknown to Curtis, and how she had nearly consented, and Mr. Anson had once been to see her about it—when the rector had come home from a holiday, and had insisted on the father's consent being obtained first.

• Which were almost a pity, Mrs. Woodford, since no doubt it was for the children's good, and Curtis needn't bave heard a word of itas he never did.'

• I don't think I could teach my children to keep anything from their father,' said Mrs. Woodford, confronted with a problem of which she had never dreamed.

· Well, it is a pity to offend the ladies,' said Mrs. Curtis, 'for Curtis's work ain't what it might be, and Miss Allen would have given them new frocks. But Curtis, he say that religion is all for what we can get.'

Mrs. Woodford thought it possible that, in the case of his wife, Mr. Curtis might have some ground for his opinion.

I don't think,' she said, “that keeping things close would recommend religion to him. But I'd not hide from him that I felt it a sore trouble; and I'd pray day and night to judge right about it, and have a way opened.

Mrs. Curtis sighed, and said that she was sure it couldn't be visited on her, as she had done her best; while Mrs. Woodford gave her a good deal more pity than she was aware of needing; and they continued on friendly terms, Woodford occasionally smoking a pipe with Curtis, and replying to his wife's anxious questions as to what they talked about, that he left people to enjoy their own opinions.'

This was not the view of their other neighbour, Mr. Benson, at whose house the “Gospel Mission ’ was held, for he made the most strenuous efforts to convert Mrs. Woodford, whom he regarded as in darkness nearly as deep as Curtis. Mrs. Woodford could neither accept his talk as 'all very good,' without seeing that it did not agree with what she herself had been brought up to, nor always answer his arguments, while to hers he was utterly impervious; but she maintained the fight, and on leisure evenings Benson would stroll in with a magazine or religious newspaper, to'lay a matter before her,' while Woodford looked on and thought what a scholar his wife was. And Mrs. Benson, who was not controversial, petted the children.

Before Christmas a new neighbour came into the Terrace, in the shape of an acquaintance of Lily's, made at the Choral Society. This was a young Mr. Alfred Bailey, a clerk in the office of the railway on which Dulworth was situated. He came to lodge in the Terrace, and pursued with evident eagerness the acquaintance of the Woodfords. He was a well-conducted young man, and a Churchman; and though Lily vehemently denied that he came after her,' Mrs. Woodford could not have found fault if he had, though he was another perplexing element in the whirl around her.

He came from London, and there he had come across some of the members of the Kyrle Society, who were engaged in spreading enlightenment by means of concerts, pictures, and popular entertainments. Mr. Bailey applied the principles thus acquired by assisting at every Penny Reading in Dulworth. The especial means by which he brightened and sweetened the lives, and elevated the souls of his fellow-creatures, was by reciting poetry of so harrowing and awful a description that · Eugene Aram' might be regarded as playful and cheerful in comparison. Nature had given him a fresh-coloured, pleasant face, with light curly hair, and nice blue eyes, which he rolled tragically, and fair eyebrows, with which he practised terrifying frowns. He was clever, not at all ill-educated, and very much in earnest, and, like every one else, he poured out his views to Mrs. Woodford.

What? she wasn't certain that she liked her boys to recite in public, and certainly not her girls ? What were people's talents given them for but to be used for the benefit of their fellow-creatures, and not rolled in napkins? They should be consecrated by use, which he had heard in a sermon at St. Augustine's, where he sang in the choir.

* And,' he concluded, “if Miss Lily would sing a solo at the next Penny Reading, it would be a great kindness, and a good work for her fellow-creatures.'

• Well,' said Mrs. Woodford, shrewdly, “ that might be, if young women didn't mostly think more of showing their faces than of their talents, or their fellow-creatures either. Besides, I've heard ladies sing, and Lily don't sing well enough to carry it off.'

• Ah, but it's the attempt that's elevating,' said Mr. Bailey, and leads to a real interest in the subject.?

Mrs. Woodford retained her doubts, but as Lily herself declined to sing on the ground of nervousness, the discussion dropped ; but Mr. Bailey's views were another novelty, and perplexed the woman, who could not help listening to what people had to say. She did not realise that most people might have come to Laura Terrace, and never found out what anybody was thinking of. Every little house in the row had the same number of red bricks to ornament its yellow surface, and the same bow window, and neat front door, but each had a different aspect. The Woodfords' was flowery, the Masons' was untidy, Curtis had a turn for grottoes and window-boxes representing green fences with white five-barred gates in the centre; and the Bensons' had a little gravelled court, with a notice board of the Mission. It occurred to Mrs. Woodford that the people inside were just as unlike each other as their front gardens. She tbought that she wished that they were all on her own pattern, but somehow she found life interesting in Dulworth.

One other acquaintance of Lily's completed their visiting list. The assistant master at the National School belonged to the Choral Society. VOL. 14.

10

PART 80.

He was a very serious grave young man, of the name of Cummings, and he always had an admirable excuse for calling, connected with the boys' conduct or home lessons.

But, even if Mr. Bailey was moved by a puro desire to hear what Mrs. Woodford thought of The Midnight Murder,' as a subject for recitation, no one entertained any doubt as to the nature of Mr. Cummings' attraction.

(70 de continued.)

CAMEOS FROM ENGLISH HISTORY.

CAMEO CCXLV.

1661-1665.

THE ACT OF UNIFORMITY.

to establish a complete and absolute uniformity of doctrine and Forship throughout the kingdom was the dream of the highest souls f the time. It did not seem an unreasonable hope. Before the Reormation there had been external unity, and even yet, each state in Jermany was outwardly at least of the same profession as its ruler. The nation at large was weary of schisms, and it was hoped that a onference between the leading men on all sides might bring about general union.

The Presbyterian leader was Richard Baxter, a man of great piety and ability, and entirely uncompromising in his opinions. He had held the Vicarage of Kidderminster throughout the Commonwealth days, and had been so much loved and followed there that the return of the rightful Vicar was by no means welcome. The fact of his intrusion made his expulsion necessary; but he was in such high esteem that he was offered a Bishopric, which he refused to accept, though he declared that there was no portion of the doctrine of the Prayer-book with which he disagreed, and he remained at Kidderminster as a lecturer.

Scotch and English Presbyterians were willing to accept a moderate episcopacy, provided they were bound by no oaths or subscriptions, and also a Liturgy, if there were liberty to add extemporary prayers; but the Scots wanted to have the surplice prohibited even in the King's own chapel. To this Charles answered sharply, that while he gave them liberty he would not have his own taken from him. James Sharp, the minister sent from Scotland to represent the Kirk, wrote with little expectation that the Presbyterians would prevail : 'I see generally the Cassock men appearing everywhere boldly, the Liturgy in many places setting up. The service in the Chapel at Whitehall is to be set up with organs and choristers as before.'

He wrote as if grieved, but there is reason to think he had made up his mind as to the part he intended to take.

A declaration was issued by the King offering toleration to all sects; but as the Presbyterians thought this was intended to favour the Roman Catholics, Baxter objected to it, on the ground that some opinions were tolerable, and others intolerable,' and, of course, in his view, nobody but Richard Baxter could draw the line between them. However, the Conference was to take place in the spring of 1661, beginning on March 25th, between twelve Bishops and twelve Nonconformist divines.

Archbishop Juxon was too aged for the difficult task of presiding, nor had he ever been noted for learning, so the presidency was allotted to Sheldon, Bishop of London, and the place of meeting was to be the grand old hall of the Savoy Palace in the Strand. Each of the twelve on either side was allowed nine assistants, who might act as deputies in case of incapacitation of the principals, and very wisely, four months were fixed as the term of the deliberations.

The proceedings began by Sheldon's declaring on the part of the Church that all were fully satisfied with the Book of Common Prayer, and that it was the part of their adversaries to state in writing what alterations were desired on the other hand.

By Baxter's influence,' the other Puritan ministers agreed to put all their objections together in one paper, while he actually undertook to draw up a Liturgy. He used the Bible, Prayer-book, Directory, and L'Estrange's • Alliance of Divine Office,' and in a single fortnight produced an entire Reformed Liturgy, which he did not quite venture to propose as a substitute for the Prayer-book, but as an alternative at the will of the minister. The language was almost wholly Scriptural, but the Church people could not but feel it insulting that one man should claim to have his fortnight's work preferred to the growth of ages, under the hands of Fathers, Saints, and Martyrs.

He had been quicker than the other divines with their paper of objections; so he turned to them likewise, and made them so sharp and violent, that his brethren would not accept them, and gave in their own paper on the 4th of May. Their objections were : to the Responses in prayer, to Lent, to Saints' days, to the prohibition of extemporary prayer, to the Apocryphal Lessons, to the repairing to the Holy Table for the Communion Service, to the use of the term priest, to some obsolete words, to the assumption that all the congregation are in a state of grace; also to the brevity of the collects and prayers, desiring a long uninterrupted form. Moreover, that the Catechism should be fuller, and that those old objects of their dislike -the surplice and marriage-ring, together with the signing of the cross after Baptism, and the kneeling at the Holy Communionshould be optional.

This petition was read, and was answered, point by point, after a dignified declaration that the faithful Church people deserved as much consideration as those who had remained outside.

Responses, the answer said, conduced to devotion, and joined the congregation with the minister.

Lent might be used to edification and devotion. As to Saints' days being human institutions, so was the Feast of Dedication, which our Lord duly observed. Extemporary prayer is dangerous. The Apocrypha is full of instruction. The stronger arguments for the

« AnteriorContinuar »