« AnteriorContinuar »
Guild and Bible-class held in connection with them; both of which met with her religious and social approval.
She also joined a choral society, which met in the Town Hall once a week, and was, as she said, “undenominational.' What denominations had to do, or not to do, with singing glees and part-songs did not appear; but this Town Hall Society was regarded as being more genteel and select than the parochial or congregational singing classes which met in the various schoolrooms and chapels, and was very popular with the young women in business, and with the clerks of Dulworth.
Mrs. Woodford did not know much about this institution, but she rewarded it with a certain suspicion, as being the means of bringing Lily home very late at night, and as being the subject of mysterious allusions from young lady friends, which caused her to blush, giggle, and say, 'Oh, I never-how can you.'
Lily certainly had other acquaintances there besides young ladies; for she had tales to tell of the flirtations and follies of other girls, always ending with—But dear me, aunt, I wouldn't do so for anything!' • Well,' said Mrs. Woodford, 'I don't see my way to it.'
Why, aunt, it's much better than the public-house.' • Well, Lily, I certainly shouldn't expect to see you inside of a public.'
No, Aunt Susan, of course not,' said Lily, laughing. But the young men—think of Bob in a year or two. Mr. Wattles, our president, says we're raising the masses, and that must be a good thing to do.' * And pray, who's the masses? You and the other girls at Warrens'?'
Oh, dear no! The—the masses are—well, I don't exactly know, auntie, but somebody below us, of course.'
'I shouldn't have thought you'd have cared abuut meeting people below you.
• But we never do. Quite the contrary, aunt. But when we give popular concerts they'll come to them.'
* Mrs. Woodford here became aware that she was losing her temper, and stopped the retort on her tongue so very short off, that Lily was quite startled by her sudden silence.
The conversation had taken place on a Sunday afternoon when all the children were at school, Woodford indulging in dreams of future vegetable triumphs in the back garden, and Lily was putting on her gloves and finally .prinking herself' before attending her Bible-class. She tripped off, thinking her arguments excellent; while Mrs. Woodford felt a dull sense of discomfort creep over her. She could only advise Lily, the girl earned her own living, and must not be driven to return to her lodging, by any ill-advised control. She could not exactly find fault with the Bible-class, or the crowded church, or the elevating singing-class, and yet she felt as if the way in which these things were undertaken made them acts of self-will instead of duty. And all the good influences in Dulworth seemed to ber to involve more risk than they were worth. She felt all this, but she was not at all sure that she was quite right in feeling it. Must she shut up Alice and Esther from all the interests of the girls around them? Or must she let them choose and chatter of one class and another church, till one was much the same as another to them. Then there was Robert, only held to the Sunday-school by his father's express command, while Alfred brought home tales of bad management, that she could not suppose to be the child's mistake or invention. Was it their fault if they didn't respect Mr. Anson ?
Then all sorts of new problems came up for her decision. At Roseberry, every child who came to the school had been carefully taught that excess in drinking was a breach of the Baptismal vow, and that every Christian, every member of Christ's body, must be temperate in all things. But the modern, definite banding together against this special sin, had not, in the small well-trained village, come before Dr. Goodall as a necessity, and the idea was new to the Woodfords, and when on Mr. Anson's invitation they went to a meeting on the subject, they came in for such very strong language, and Mr. Woodford's daily pint was denounced with so much andour, Scripture was handled with such startling freedom, that it was no wonder that they went home by no means inclined to any change in their habits.
When Mr. Anson called to learn their sentiments he saw that Mrsi Woodford was not pleased, she had not yet learned to tell a clergyman that she disagreed with him. He meekly apologised for the strong language of the deputation, and assured her that it was needful to 'gain the masses.' Mrs. Woodford said, “Yes, sir,' and remained unconvinced. Robert, however, who was a well-meaning lad, fell in with an elder friend who assured him that to join the · Young Men's Band of Hope' was quite the correct thing, being the duty of us, as are better than others, to set an example, and having the best treats in the town.
As the Vicar of the parish appeared as one of the patrons of the institution, which was intended for the young shopmen of the whole town, and Robert's master was a staunch supporter of it, Woodford consented, and the boy became a very ardent member. It appeared to his parents that he brought home a great many new sentiments, besides objections to strong drink; but nobody could oppose a boy's enthusiasm against so great an evil, and his mother hoped it was all right; even when one night, coming home from shopping, she heard such a noise in the street as to make her say to herself that anything that stopped those poor creatures from taking too much must be a blessing. When, behold, as she turned the corner, it was only the “ Temperance Errand Boys," as they were commonly called, coming out from their monthly entertainment.
As Mrs. Woodford thought of such difficult questions, and be it remembered, she had a mind that could perceive their difficulty, she experienced that sense of confusion and fret that comes upon those whose earthly guides are removed from them. The stronger the influence under which people have lived, the more this state of mind is likely to come upon them when they find themselves under new circumstances and strange leaders. Then the lighter sort get swept away in a stream of change, and those whose loyal natures make them cleave to the old standards, too often fall into a blind opposition to everything that seems new, and give up the old principle because a new person preaches it.
How often people who have loved and followed a favourite clergyman, give up the church system which he taught them to value, because his successor is inferior, or perhaps only different! Where feeling and principle have always gone comfortably together, it is a great trial of faith to find them separated.
Mrs. Woodford could not feel towards this new church, this new pastor, in the least as she had felt at home. That was her trial on one side. But the church training of Roseberry had been too deep and thorough for her to have any doubt that the church services and Sacraments had the same claim upon her wherever she might be. She was unhappy at this change, but she was not puzzled.
But, on the other hand, question after question came before her in this new wide world to which Roseberry habits gave her no answer, and to which she did not see how to apply Roseberry principles. No answer? Yes, there was an answer that came to her from that deep, old, careful training. When the collects had been taught so thoroughly to the Roseberry scholars that every one was known without the possibility of forgetting, they had been constantly taught that the lesson they said on Sunday was their prayer for the week, to be said daily, and to be considered as a guide appointed for their religious thoughts. Mrs. Woodford had said her collect that morning with her prayers. Now, as she felt herself all astray, she covered her face with her hands and repeated it again to herself.
O God, forasmuch as without Thee we are not able to please Thee, mercifully grant that Thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.'
In all things, no matter how new or perplexing, God's Holy Spirit dwelt in her for a guide.
Mrs. Woodford cheered up and took courage, she did not yet see her way any plainer, but she felt convinced that there was a way to see.
(To be continued.)
CAMEOS FROM ENGLISH HISTORY.
THE AUGUSTAN AGE OF FRANCE.
The young King Louis XIV. may have been said to begin to reign at the age of twenty-two, at the death of Mazarin.
* Transact your own business yourself, Sire,' said the dying Cardinal. Have no prime minister, such as your goodness has made me. I know by the things I could have done, how dangerous it is to raise a subject to such a position.'
This, and · The State is myself,' were the maxims of Louis XIV. throughout his long life. No sooner had the Cardinal breathed his last, than the young King assembled the members of his Cabinet. 'I have summoned you,' he said, “in order to let you know that though I have hitherto permitted my affairs to be managed by the late Lord Cardinal, it is time that I should govern myself, and you will aid me with your advice when needful.' He added that the Chancellor was to seal nothing without his knowledge, and no passport nor protection be granted without reference to himself, and he ended by recommending to Fouquet, the Superintendent of Finance, Jean Baptiste Colbert, who had been Steward of the Household to Mazarin. He was son to a wool merchant of Rheims, a plain homely-looking man, but perfectly upright and honest, and so able and acute in money matters that the Cardinal had said, “Sire, I owe everything to you; but I repay you by giving you Colbert.'
Fouquet, of a good family in Brittany, was over the finances, Séguier was Chancellor, Le Tellier, an old man, was Minister of War, assisted by his son, the Marquis de Louvois; Hughes di Lionne, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was the fourth Minister belonging to the Cabinet Council, for Louis was unwilling to admit more persons than necessary to State secrets, and was ready for any amount of personal toil. He was by nature methodical, and so stately as never to relax his dignity even in private. Mazarin had been accustomed to confer with the Council while dressing, often while being shaved, playing meantime with his monkey or pet red-wing, and sometimes rating his royal master like a school-boy.
Louis had submitted out of habit, but he altered all this, and though the Council still met in his bedroom, he was full dressed, point lace collar, ruffles, sword and all. He was the only person in a chair, though the Chancellor was allowed to lean against the rail of the bed, and Lionne against the mantelpiece, and if writing was required, a stool was permitted to be used at the end of the table.
There could scarcely have been found five such able men in one Council all over Europe. Indeed, France was at this period extraordinarily fertile in persons of capacity. Turenne and Condé, the two greatest generals of the day, were in full vigour; Vauban, one of the greatest of engineers, had mastered a system of fortification which rendered cities almost impregnable, and his sieges were almost irresistible.
In peaceful architecture, Jean Hardouin Mansard was held to be unrivalled in stately combinations of symmetrical blocks, colonnades, and magnificent staircases. It is curious that he should have left his name to a garret, for he was the builder of palaces. He embellished the Louvre, but Louis never loved it, being unable to forget the scenes of the Fronde. It was on Versailles that all his care and cost were lavished, through the greater part of his life, and there he chiefly resided, only visiting Paris when it was unavoidable, and making Fontainebleau his hunting-seat.
The gardens of Versailles were laid out by Le Nôtre. They had perfect symmetry in trees, shrubs, terraces, parterres, lawns, and fountains, extending as far as the eye could reach from the palace windows. The fountains were by far the finest ever constructed, and the whole was adorned with a thousand bronze and marble statues and groups of mythological subjects, often portraying the King. The entire cost amounted to sixteen millions of pounds sterling, and though this was spread over many years, the expenditure rendered the King's buildings as burthensome to the people as his wars.
Lebrun was the painter of the day, but was not equally eminent in the eyes of posterity with the above mentioned, nor with the literary men of the time; La Fontaine, who shares the fame of Æsop and Phædrus as a fable writer in elegant verse, Boileau, the able satirist, and especially the dramatists. Corneille, though still living, had achieved his chief triumphs, under the wing of the Hôtel Rambouillet; and Racine, the greatest of them all, was still repressed by the stern scruples of the Jansenists. There were many lesser lights, all owing much to the Hôtel Rambouillet, where language and taste had been greatly purified. The Duchess had passed away, and had been aped by mere pedantic and affected imitators, who discussed literature in a weak and silly manner, held up to derision by Molière in his Précieuses Ridicules.
It was Molière who was in the zenith of his fame. His proper name was Jean Baptiste Poquelin; but as the drama was not held to be respectable, he changed his appellation. His comedies not only delighted his own generation, but still remain as classics, and their wit and humour charm and divert all times.
Novel writing had begun. Mademoiselle de Scudéry, who had written interminable romances, was in extreme old age, greatly