Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

a desire to have a more intimate acquaintance with them, gave us no little gratification. The scarcity of cotton was being felt as severely as in our own country, and the few large mills that were still working were all preparing to stop in the course of a few weeks. Under there circumstances, we were not surprised to find that the war was not quite so popular as in other places. Here alone we heard the wish expressed that the European powers would interfere to put an end to it. The shadow of poverty had evidently scared their patriotism. The workers are remarkably intelligent and comfortable looking. The wages earned are considerably higher than those of the sanie class in England, but the working hours are longer. As most of the female operatives are strangers from the rural districts, very superior lodging-houses are attached to the mills for their accommodation. We visited one of a long row in connection with the “Merimack," the largest establishment in the town. It was a three-storied, " self-contained" house, made to accommodate twenty-four lodgers. The lobby, public rooms, and bedrooms are all well furnished. The clean white cover of the dinner-table, and the neatness and regularity with which it was set, bespoke a praiseworthy fastidiousness in their domestic habits. We were much pleased with the character of the ten or twelve good-sized volumes which form the little library of each girl, No novels to " kill” time, nor trashy periodicals of a character similar to our London Journals and Miscellanies were there to pollute the mind with their subtle poison. All were really standard works, chiefly religious. It is very much to be lamented that so little regard to comfort and conFenience is shewn in the construction of houses for the working people of our own country. On every hand we see large tenements rising, to be honeycombed into dwellings of but a single apartment-a most unfavourable sign of the times. No doubt to some extent this may be accounted for by the high price of ground; but a large share of the responsibility rests with the people themselves, who either overlook or underestimate the advantages of a better class of houses. There are few luxuries which their limited means will permit them to enjoy that are less expensive, and there are none more conducive to their social and moral well-being. We might profitably take a leaf from the book of our American kinsmen in this, as well as in many other matters.

Returning to Boston, we take the cars for Norwich. Whilst daylight lasts the landscape is nowhere very inviting, but becomes more so when night sets in. The railway then runs along the course of the Charles River, the smooih surface of which reflects the mellowed light of the full moon. At Norwich, we take the steamer for New York at 9 p.m., and pass the night at Long Island sound. Next morning, on leaving our state-room, we find the boat is passing between shores thickly studded with villas and mansions, which become more and more numerous as we approach the city. At length a forest of masts announces that we have reached our destination. After taking up our quarters at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, we proceed to make ourselves acquainted with what had escaped observation on our former visit.

Since we had left New York two months before, great reverses had blighted the prospects of the North. The tide of prosperity had turned. Instead of being in undisturbed possession of Richmond as bad been expected, the army had step by step retreated until it rested again on the Potomac. The number of sick and wounded have sensibly increased. Their pale faces obtrude themselves on the public eye, until the heart sickens at the spectacle, and sighs for the time when the sword and the spear shall give place to the ploughshare and the pruning-hook. Gold and silver have disappeared, and treasury notes and postage stamps have taken their place. Yet, notwithstanding, the determination of the people to carry on the war seems not to be in the slightest degree abated. The great “mass meeting” held, whilst we were in the city, for the purpose of strengthening the hands of the government amidst the trials and difficulties of the hour, indicated that, however they might differ in their opinion as to the proper conduct of the war, they were unanimously resolved to endure much more disaster before they would relinquish the cherished idea of having the Union as it was. We passed up Broadway about the hour appointed for the meeting. Its business and bustle were suspended, and the tide of human beings was flowing towards Union Square. “Cars of victory," as they are called, loaded with wounded soldiers, and drawn by four or six horses, were slowly and pompously making their way to the place of meeting, for the purpose of fanning the flame of patriotism which it was expected would be kindled that afternoon. We may be permitted to question the efficacy of such an exhibition to awaken other feelings than those of horror of war-war which entails such awful sacrifice of human life, which turns thousands of happy families into sorrowful mourners, changes fond wives into weeping widows, makes joyous children sad and fatherless, blights the fair blossom, and extinguishes the hope of many a loving parent's heart. How unfeeling, how unnatural such a parade of the suffering caused by

“Man's inhumanity to man!" In the dark places of the earth, or in a darker age, we might imagine the thirst for revenge which a sight of the maimed and mangled forms of their warriors might beget ; but in a Christian land, amongst a people whose devoted missionaries are found on the inhospitable shores of the frozen regions. and under the burning sun of the tropics, proclaiming the gospel of peace and love, it were impossible. We obtained a glimpse of the great congregation before our omnibus turned down a side street to avoid it. Another engagement unfortunately prevented us joining it at the time ; and when, an hour or so afterwards, we returned, we found the square empty, the thunder shower having dissolved the popular parliament. We were thus disappointed of seeing as much as we could have wished to have seen of such a thoroughly American institution ; which a sounder condition of the public press renders unnecessary in our own country, and which despotism renders impossible on the continent. Next morning the overflowing columns of the newspapers tell uz what a treat of eloquence we had missed; how the “ thunders of heaven" had supported the “ thunderers of the platform” in their appeals to the old flag.” It is an extraordinary feature in the American pross, that so much bombast pervades it, irritating common sense, and proving most intoleraable to an English reader. There is a want of dignity in the sensation-writing and sensation-speaking so universal in the United States, which tends to cool the admiration of Europeans, for what has some claim, at least, to be considered one of the wonders of the world in the present day, by reason of its unexampled prosperity. Would that the figure of liberty had been exposed in a more graceful garb to the wistful gaze of those who are yet crushed under the iron wheel of despotism.

The shop windows are filled with curiosities and mementos from the seat of war. Amongst these there are none more common and few more interesting than the photographs of the carefully mounted “ quaker guns" of the Confederates. The obvious design is, to expose the miserable devices to which the people of the South are reduced ; but one who is not blinded by patriotic zeal, sees something to admire in the ingenuity which so successfully substituted a harmless log for an “ Armstrong' or a « Dahlgren." The few days that still remained to us were spent in excursions up the East River to Greenwood, and a ramble over Staten Island.

On the morning of Wednesday the 16th of July, we left the Cunard Wharf and were conveyed to the “ Scotia,” which lay in the middle of the Hudson. Slowly we then moved down the harbour, slipped through the “ Narrows," passed through Sandy Hook, and set sail once more on the boundless ocean. The near prospect of a return home could not prevent some little sadness as we looked for the last time on the land of new formed friendships. Like : pleasant dream, those days we spent in America have passed away, but often shall the heart wander back with pleasure to the scenes of its sunny me

mories," and linger round the homes and hearths to which it is drawn by no ordinary feelings of grateful attachment. Long before sunset, the last speck of land had sunk beneath the western horizon, and on every hand stretched the watery waste. The "Babel" of voices which in the early part of the day rose from the gay and lively throng of passengers, had become gradually hushed, as one after another succumbed to the desponding influences of sea-sickness. Some of the state-rooins converted into so many little hospitals by this tyrant of the deep, remained so till the end of the vovage. But in general a daily improvement was perceptible in the nunber and appearance of those who joined in the usual promenade on deck, or resumed the forsaken seat at table. Our two hundred and fifty fellow-passengers were composed of Canadians and Cubans, Federals and Confederates, French and English ; and the student of human nature might have found much to interest and instruct him in observing the various moulds in which their characters had been cast. Indeed, if one could rid himself of all the disagreeable sensations caused by the incessant rocking, there would be nothing to hinder the ten days occupied in crossing the ocean from being as pleasant as an equal length of time spent in any ordinary circumstances. The Confederates on board were chiefly citizens of Baltimore, compelled to leave what had become an uncomfortable residence for rebels, to seek refuge on a foreign shore. A fellow-feeling made them close friends. The great centre of attraction amongst them was one who, at the beginning of the war, had been in command of the notorious privateer Jeff. Davies. He had recently been captured in a vessel running the blockade and carried into Boston, three days before we left New York. The autborities there, ignorant of his real character, had released him on parole, and thus he narrowly escaped being consigned to the care of the governor of Fort La Fayette. The little groups here and there, afforded us ample opportunity of hearing both sides of the all-absorbing question of the day discussed. We need scarcely say, that were we to put faith in all the sentiments expressed, we would not look for a termination of the unhappy contest, until either the loyal or the rebel states are entirely depopulated. Sabbath was rather an eventful day. Early in the morning, we witnessed the strange sight of forty vessels riding at anchor. We were then crossing the bank of Newfoundland. After breakfast, the bell rang, in real parish kirk style, and passengers and crew gathered in the saloon, when Captain Judkins read the episcopal service. On the afternoon, whilst at dinner, the announcement that the Asia was passing, brought us all on deck. There she was almost within speaking distance, looking quite gay in the sunshine, with flags flying and handkerchiefs waving. It was a beautiful and gratifying sight ; but followed by a sense of loneliness, as we watched it disappear on the horizon. What a wonderful little instrument the compass is, that enables the mariner thus to make a highway on the trackless ocean! Not long after this, we were again called on deck to see an enormous iceberg. Its shape was somewhat like that of the rock on which Edinburgh Castle stands, and one thought it might be quite as large. But it is exceedingly difficult to form a correct estimate of the size of such an object in such circumstances. On Wednesday evening, a sudden lurch and a simultaneous crash, as the contents of the tea-table was hurled to the floor, proved premonitary of an approaching storm. As night wore on the wind increased. We retired as usual to rest; but the slamming of doors, the falling of articles on the deck overhead, as they became dislodged from their places, the squalling of babies, and worst of all, the groaning from a bad case of sea-sickness on the other side of the partition, was not exactly the sort of music to lull one asleep. So after being rolled and rocked in our little hammocks till dawn, we successfully made our way to the deck again. Clinging fast and firm to the rails at the stern, we got ourselves into position for a survey. The wind is whistling mournfully through the shrouds and rigging. On every hand the water is lashed into a whitened surf ; huge dark green waves with crests higher than the top of the paddle-box eome sweeping along, one after another, threatening every moment to engulph our puny crast. The circumstances invested our good ship, the second largest in the world, with an incredible insignificance. It looked like a mere plaything amidst the breakers. All day we felt the violence of the gale ; in the evening it began to abate. Next morning, what a change! The sails flapped idly against the masts as the steamer gently rose and fell on the glassy undulations to which the waves had sunk. The storm was changed into the most perfect calm. We had not been long on deck when a dim indistinct outline began to emerge from the haze on the horizon. Land, our native land! What thoughts crowd upon us as we draw nearer and nearer ! We had seen much to admire and much to interest us in our stay on a foreign shore, but this sight surpassed them all. By midday we were abreast of the often heard of Roches Point, where the mails and a few passengers were landed by the tender. The boats of the Telegraph Company and of the Times were the first to board us, and to carry off the news, which in a few hours would be spread over the length and breadth of the land. At noon next day we dropped anchor in the Mersey; and before midnight, the family circle which had been temporarily broken was re-united, amidst feelings of gratitude to Him whose covering wings had sheltered us from every danger in our wanderings over ten thousand miles.

“There is a land, of every land the pride,
Beloved by heaven o'er all the world beside ;
The wandering mariner, whose oye explores
The wealthiest isles, the most enchanting shores,
Views uot a realın so beautiful and fair,
Nor breathes the spirit of a purer air;
In every clime the magnet of his soul,
Touch'd by remembrance, trembles to that pole;
For in that land of heaven's peculiar grace,
The heritage of nature's noblest race,
There is a spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
Where shall that land, that spot of earth be fouud ?
Art thou a man ? a patriot? look around;
Oh, thou shalt find, howe'er thy footsteps roam,
That land thy country and that spot thy bome."

Reviews and Notices. Calvin, his Life, his Labours, and his Writings. Translated from the

French of FelIX BUNGENER. Pp. 349. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. 1863.

There are some men of whom the world can never know enough—some, the materials for whose biography are long since exhausted; others again, regarding whom the indefatigable research of the historian is bringing forward, year by year, new and interesting facts. Among names which will remain, gathering fresh lustre as the world grows older, the name of John Calvin occupier a foremost place. It was not without good ground that the late Principal Cunningham, in one of his lectures to his students, asserted that "Calvia may be fairly regarded, all things considered, as the greatest and most useful gift that God has given to the church since the apostolic age.” With the exception of our own Scottish Knox, no man has left so indelibly as Calvia his mark upon history. Like most of the early reformers, he was edncated in the bosom of the Romish Church. We have not, in his case, as in that Luther, any of those vivid details of the manner in which he fought his was from the darkness of Rome to the light of the blessed evangel. On those

topics be maintains a reserve quite in accordance with his general character. The bondage of the man of sin was, however, cast off. This much the world knows; this mucb Rome herself will long have cause to remember, for of all the strokes dealt against her tyrannous supremacy, none have been more deeply felt, none more lastingly and bitterly resented, than those which he dealt, over against whose name, in the Consistorial Register of Geneva, are writen the words, “ Went to God, Saturday, 27th May 1564."

It was a good day for the Church of Christ and for the world when Calvin, casting from him the pandects of Justinian and the study of the Roman law, laid his hands upon the Bible, and gave his life thenceforward to the study of the law of God, and all his energies to the maintenance of it as the supreme rule for human life, ecclesiastical and national. Not that it was by any nieans an easy matter for the Genevan reformer to enforce that law even externally ; but the strong, undaunted will within him, furnished ever with power from the Source of all grace, bore him bravely through the struggle, At the court of Marguerite of Valois, in the midst of Genevan libertine niobs, an exile from the shores of Lake Leman, again restored in triumph to his place in the church and in the council chamber, Calvin's dominant idea was, this law is and must be supreme. The volume now before us contains one of the most complete and life-like portraits of the great reformer which have been hitherto given to the world. Mons. Bungener has evidently made this heroic man a study, perused his writings with the ardour of a disciple, and looked upon his work with the eye of a patriot. Calvin, with his furrowed, care-worn brow, with grave, dignified countenance, and a heart throbbing with the grandest aspirations for the glory of God and the good of Christ's church, stands out from every page. What a lion-like courage lay behind that weak, attenuated frame ! On the 3d September 1553, at the customary hour, Calvin ascends the pulpit of St Peter's, in Geneva.-[As we have seen his biographer in the same pulpit, and have listened to him with the deepest pleasure, we shall let him depict the scene himself.] “He perceived in the audience the insolent group of libertines, perhaps already ill at case because they felt themselves isolated in the midst of the congregation, and with Calvin there before them. But he did not seem to see them. As calm as ever, externally at least, he preached, like Farel in 1538, upon the state of mind with which the Lord's table should be approached. Then he added, “As for me, so long as God shall leave me here, since God hath given me fortitude, and I have received it from him, I will employ it whatever betide, and I will guide myself by my Master's rule, which is to me clear and well known. ... As we are to receive the Lord's Supper, if any one to whom it has been interdicted by the Consistory should seek to intrude himself at this table, I would certainly shew myself, as long as I live, such as I ought to be. When the liturgies were concluded, he came down from the pulpit, and blessed the bread and wine. The libertines rose, and prepared to approach. Then, covering the sacred symbols with his hands, he exclaimed, You may cut these hands, and crush these limbs ; my blood is yours, shed it. But you shall never force me to give holy things to the profane !' At this action and voice the profane paused. They looked at each other-they looked around. An indignant murmur circulated among the crowd, and, but for the sacredness of the spot, the murmur would have become an outcry. The voice of the people was for Calvin. The libertines hesitated for a moment longer, and then fell back. The crowd opened a passage for their retreat, and the sacrament was administered to the believers, who were still agitated, but proud of their pastor, and rejoicing in his victory."

It is impossible to mention the name of Calvin without calling up at the same time another name, in connection with which Calvin's fair fame has ofttimes suffered. We refer to that of Servetus. We have sometimes wondered what Romanists and many Protestants, inimical to Calvin and his system, would have done had Servetus never existed, or if existing, had he not

« AnteriorContinuar »