Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

father said; others by adding a codicil, which they say was a necessary part of every will; and when a fashion of wearing silver fringe came out, and they found that silver fringe was expressly prohibited in the will, the more learned brother discovered in a certain author, which he said should be nameless, that the same word which in the will was called “fringe," did also signify a “broomstick."

“ broomstick.” At last they agreed to lock up the will in a strong box, and trouble themselves no further to examine it, but only refer to its authority whenever they thought fit. The tale then relates how the three brothers came to quarrel. The different modes in which Martin and Jack, after leaving Peter's house, proceed to tear off the ornaments from their coats which they deemed repugnant to their father's will, afford a very lively and instructive view of the progress of the Reformation.

The conduct of two sons towards their parents in religious matters is related by Lackington, the celebrated bookseller, in his very curious autobiography. He was bound an apprentice, and speaks in high terms of his master and mistress. He says, “ But, alas ! the dreadful crisis was at hand that put an end to the happiness and peace of this little family.” This was owing to the two sons turning Methodists; after which they so neglected their business and upbraided their parents, telling them that they themselves had been born over again, and were not indebted for their birth to their carnal parents, that their old father died of a broken heart. Lackington joined the party of the sons. His mistress, their mother, one day locked him up.

He opened his bible, and found,—" He has given his angels charge concerning thee, lest at any time thou shouldest dash thy foot against a stone." After reading which, he jumped

A poor

out of a window into the street, and ran towards the meeting house ; but his feet were so bruised, that he fell down, and was obliged to be carried home and put to bed. Lackington describes the very systematic arrangements adopted by Wesley among his preachers and followers. The followers were divided into classes of the awakened, and bands of the justified; they had tickets which were exchanged quarterly, the poor paying for them a shilling, the rich more. On these tickets were written texts, as, for the classes, Awake thou that sleepest;" for the bands “ Ye are the children of light.” Lackington relates many curious circumstances concerning Wesley and his sectaries; but we have only to do with the effects of religious enthusiasm is disuniting parents and children. He says

milk-woman, who until the beginning of the year 1792, maintained her family in a decent manner, was lately frightened out of her understanding ; her crime was the selling milk on Sundays. The Poor wretch is now confined in Bedlam, and her five children are in a workhouse.” He mentions hearing a Methodist preacher declare in a sermon that he would much rather send five thousand men and women to Bedlam, than that one soul should be sent to hell. It did not occur to him that the one might possibly be a consequence of the other.

One of the most powerful sermons preached by Wesley, was delivered by him when standing on his father's grave. His father was Rector of Epworth in Lincolnshire. He was himself educated at the Charter-house and Oxford ; Whitfield had been waiter at an inn. Wesley's registered followers, at the time of his death, in England, amounted to 71,000 and 48,000 in America ; he had 500 travelling preachers under his direction; he died in 1791 at the age of 88. Whitfield, who, among other tricks, used to imitate Peter weeping, with great effect, died in 1770; he split with Wesley on the subject of predestination.

The last mentioned particulars are taken from Lord Mahon's history, which contains a good account of the rise and early progress of Methodism. There is one more circumstance in the autobiography of Lackington, which will be found to have a bearing on our subject. He made his fortune by buying and selling cheap popular books on a large scale ; on the doors of his carriage he had a motto,

« Small profits do great things.” He says, “ At one time I had no less than 10,000 copies of Watts' psalms, and the same number of his hymns in my possession.” He observes that the sale of books increased four-fold in twenty years after the Ameri

It

may be curious to see how Watts, whose works were so saleable, treats some of the matters we have already considered. The following is from his hymn on obedience of children towards parents ; talking of the disobedient child,

can war.

What heavy guilt upon him lies,

How cursed is his name ;
The ravens shall pick out his eyes,

And eagles eat the same.
But those who worship God, and give

Their parents honor due,
Here on this earth they long shall live,

And live hereafter too.

These paraphrases of scripture, and comfortable additions to its promises, expressed in easy and homely language, would appear, from what Lackington says, to have been, in his time, very congenial to the minds of the common people in England. In like manner our ancestors used formerly to

be pleased with scriptural pictures, although not by first rate artists. In Shakspeare's Merry Wives of Windsor, we find a room in the Garter Inn painted with the history of the Prodigal Son. In these common pictures, the Prodigal, after his restoration to favor, is usually treated with a carriage, having on its pannels the initials P. S.

The incidental mention of the milk-maid whose religious zeal sent her children to the work-house suggests two or three matters which properly belong to an earlier part of this work. A similar religious impulse enabled a woman, mentioned in Maccabees, to view, without repining, seven sons killed in one day. As an analogous instance of political zeal, we have a Jacobite song

I once had sons, but now have nane,
I felt them losing sairly,
Yet I wad bear them a' again,
And lose them a' for Charlie !

Swift's apple-woman, after this, may not be thought a monster.

Come buy my fine wares,
Plumbs, apples, and pears ;
A hundred a penny,
In conscience too many,
Come, will you

have any ?
My children are seven,
I wish them in Heaven ;
My husband's a sot,
With his pipe and his pot ;
Nor a farthing will gain them,
So I must maintain them.

One of the most horrible relations to be found in

any

history is that in the second book of Kings.

" And there was a great famine in Samaria ; and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver" and the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung for five pieces of silver. And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help my Lord, O King! And the king said unto her, what aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, give thy son, that we may eat him to-day, and we will eat my son to-morrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him ; and I said unto her the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him : and she hath hid her son.”

To return from this digression to our subject of filial affection. Cowper's verses on the receipt of his mother's picture contain many passages which do honor to his filial feelings. Two short extracts will shew the character of the poem ; they commence and end it.

O that those lips had language ! life has passed
With me but roughly since I heard thee last,
Those lips are thine—thy own sweet smile I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me
Voice only fails ; else how distinct they say,
“ Grieve not my child, chase all thy fears away !"
The meek intelligence of those dear eyes
(Blest be the art that can immortalize,
The art that baffles time's tyrannic claim
To quench it-) here shines on me still the same.

And now, farewell-Time unrevoked has run
His wonted course, yet what I wished is done-
By contemplation's help, not sought in vain,
I seem t'have lived my childhood o'er again;
To have renewed the joys that once were mine,
Without the sin of violating thine ;
And while the wings of fancy still are free,
And I can view this mimic shew of thee,
Time has but half succeeded in his theft
Thyself removed, thy pow'r to soothe me left.

« AnteriorContinuar »