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strong, nauseous, suffocating smell ; but on coming close to the edge, this disagreeable smell left us. We were now all lost in astonishment at the awful scene before us. The valley appeared to be about half a mile in circumference, oval, and the depth from thirty to thirty-five feet; the bottom quite flat; no vegetation ; but some very large (in appearance) river stones; and the whole covered with the skeletons of human beings, tigers, pigs, deer, peacocks, and all sorts of birds. We could not perceive any vapour, or any opening in the ground, which last appeared to be of a very hard, sandy substance. The sides of the valley, from the top to the bottom, are covered with trees, shrubs, &c. It was now proposed, by one of the party, to enter the valley ; but, at the spot where we were, this was difficult, at least for me, as one false step would have brought us to eternity, and no assistance could be given. We lighted our cigars, and, with the assistance of a bamboo, we went down to within eighteen feet of the bottom. Here we did not experience any difficulty in breathing, but an offensive nauseous smell annoyed us. We now fastened a dog to the end of a bamboo eighteen feet long, and sent him in ; we had our watches in our hands, and in fourteen seconds he fell on his back, did not move his limbs or look round, but continued to breathe for eighteen minutes. We then sent in another, or rather he got loose from the bamboo, but walked in to where the other dog was lying ; he then stood quite still, and in ten seconds he fell on his face, and never moved his limbs afterwards; he continued to breathe for seven minutes. We now tried a fowl, which died in one minute and a half. We threw in another, which died before touching the ground. During these experiments we experienced a heavy shower of rain, but we were so interested by the awful scene before us, that we did not care for getting wet. On the opposite side, near a large stone, was the skeleton of a human being, who must have perished on his back, with his right arm under his head ; from being exposed to the weather, the bones were bleached as white as ivory. I was anxious to procure this skeleton, but any attempt to get at it would have been madness."
It has not been ascertained by direct experiment to what the destructiveness of this valley of death is owing. But there seems little doubt that it is simply a continual discharge from the ground of carbonic acid gas, which can find no means of escape until it reaches that level at which the valley ceases to be poisonous. The gas thus remains in the bottom of the valley, in the same manner as water remains in a lake.
There is no other noxious gas with which we are acquainted that possesses sufficient weight for retaining it in such a situation; and we know, by fatal experience of those who descend into wells, pits, or other places, containing carbonic acid gas, how instantaneously it puts an end to life. Nor can it be otherwise : carbonic acid gas is the product to be removed from the body by the operation of breathing, in every creature which has breath; and, therefore, to send this gas to the lungs, is literally extinguishing the fire of life with its own ashes.
I believe that the principal facts of this singular case are accurately stated in the above paragraphs; and if you think it worth while to print them, they are much and heartily at your service. · Grove Cottage, Chelsea, Oct. 12, 1835. ROBERT MUDIE.
ESSAY ON THE PRESENT DUTY OF CHRISTIAN
CHURCHES, IN REFERENCE TO THE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION OF THE YOUNG,
ESPECIALLY IN SUNDAY-SCHOOLS,
(Continued from page 304.) Why is not this subject brought more prominently forward in the pulpit ? why not urged upon the attention of candidates for Christian communion? why not inculcated as one of the Christian duties? The difficulty is not in finding scholars, but in obtaining teachers; and that difficulty too frequently arises rather from the want of inclination than the deficiency of numbers.
Perhaps this difficulty might be in some measure removed, if, instead of limiting all to one particular sphere of action, the Sunday-school, others were to be assigned to them, suited to their different education, abilities, and rank in society. Sunday-school teachers are, for the most part, in the lower classes. Those in the higher ranks object to the closeness of the school-room, the dirt, noise, and vulgarity of the children, and the association with other teachers moving in a sphere below them. Many parents raise such objections as these to their children, and especially to their daughters, becoming teachers. True Christian humility would, indeed, never regard these as obstacles, but where such prejudices cannot be easily overcome, would it not be advisable either to meet them, by allowing the teacher to have her class at her own dwelling, or to suggest other departments of labour more congenial with the inclinations of the parties? Why are there no Sunday-schools for the rich ? They are often more out of the reach of religious instruction than the poor. They cannot be visited in sickness, or relieved in want, or be approached by tract distributors and Christian instructors. Their children are frequently left to the care of servants, and brought up with little more knowledge of religion than the heathen. Even in the families of many professing Christians, it is to be feared that there is a sad disregard of the Sabbath : their children may, indeed, be taken with them once or even twice to the sanctuary, but no account is required, on their return, of the sermons which they have heard ; no conversation passes which can remind them that it is a day of holiness and peace; they are sent to the nursery to amuse themselves with their usual toys, or, if older, with some questionable book. Why does no one pity these? Are their souls of less importance ? or, rather, are they not, if we may so speak, considering the influence which they will hereafter exert on society, of more? Or, is it answered, that they are inaccessible within their walls of pride? We would ask, in reply, are they more so than the Indian, the New Zealander, and the Chinese, for whom we send our missionaries across the ocean, to encounter the fury of the billows, and the ferocity of the savage; the tomahawk, the scalping-knife, and the poisoned arrow; the tiger, the serpent, and the shark; perpetual snows and burning sands, chilling cold, and blasting heat ? Would it be more difficult to obtain access to our own countrymen than to these ? or, rather, would it not be an exploit of less heroism, and subject us to mortification and scornful rebuke? Perhaps it will be answered, that the attempt would be fruitless. Have we tried and found it so ? Probably it might, if first put to the test in the metropolis, where next door neighbours do not know each other, and would naturally object to placing their children under the care of strangers; but this objection would not have the same weight in country towns and villages, and it might not be so difficult as we imagine to collect a numerous class in such places. The parents would enjoy the quiet of their little ones' absence, and would feel their consciences relieved, by having the charge, which they had neglected, taken off their hands. The mother of a family, who could not leave her own to teach in a school, might conduct such a class in her own house. If very young, she might tell them Scripture stories, explain and apply them, show them Scripture prints, teach them catechisms and hymns, and, if able, teach them to sing those hymns, an exercise of which most children are fond, and conclude with prayer, suited to their capacity. If older, she could require an account of the morning sermon, and encourage them to write at the time if their memories failed. If they all heard the same sermon, much might be remembered among them in this way, and she could add her own observations with reference to their particular cases as they proceeded. They could read Scripture with her, and be catechised upon it, as in Bible classes ; and, that it might not become irksome, a portion of some interesting book, such as the “ Infant's Progress,” the “ Pilgrim's Progress," the “ Young Cottager," &c., might close the afternoon's employment. The children would soon become attached to an intelligent and affectionate instructor; the benefit of the lessons thus learned would soon appear in their conduct at home; prejudice would gradually wear away, and the custom become general, perhaps as much so, as for it to be as customary to send the children to the Sunday-school, as to their respective places of worship. It would be a noble example to make the experiment. Were but one to lead the way, others would soon follow. Would that one could be found fearless and energetic enough to pass the Rubicon of modern custom!
Enough on this point. Let us turn to the other branches of the Christian church.
The only duty which we seem in general to associate with the Sabbath-school is, that of a teacher in the school-room on the Sabbath. A little consideration would show us, that this is very far from being the case. The duty of the minister, for instance, is very different. It is for him to awaken interest in the minds of his congregation on behalf of the school; to press upon them its importance ; to offer up public and social prayer for its success; to lay out the different employments of all the members of his flock, according to their station, talents, and opportunities, and to regulate their employments so that there may be no confusion; to visit the school and encourage the teachers ; to hold Bible classes for the young people in the congregation himself, where his time and strength permit; and to be, in short, the general director, instigator, and centre of union. It is for the deacons to assist him in all these exertions; to direct under his direction. The energetic and persevering should be chosen as superintendents. The intellectual and refined for Bible classes in the higher ranks. Parents, who are engaged in teaching their own children at home, should train them up for Sunday-school teachers, should set it before them as one of the great duties of life, as one of the ends of their existence. How much might one intelligent and pious family thus reared effect! Mothers and fathers thus engaged on the Sabbath, might often, with little additional fatigue, take charge of the neglected children of their neighbours. Servants in families, where there are children, tutors and governesses, school-masters and mistresses, have fine opportunities of being Sunday-school teachers at home. The pious and intelligent, in other classes, who have their time at command, may be teachers in the general school. Their duties extend beyond the school-room and the Sabbath. They should keep a watch over their class in the week, acquaint themselves with their pursuits and characters, and endeavour, by every possible means, to maintain an influence over them. Might it not be practicable, in some cases, for the teacher to invite them occasionally to his or her own dwelling, as well as to visit them in theirs ? to give them some little treat, and to amuse them with pictures, books, music, &c. ? Such a plan would delight both parents and children, and would afford most favourable opportunities for conversation. Nor does the duty of the teacher rest with the children alone. For their sakes he should endeavour to benefit the parents also. He should lend them books, visit them in sickness, and comfort them in affliction; and supposing him to bave ten pupils, he could easily keep up a system of visiting with ten families, and thus a district visiting society might be maintained without additional trouble.
(To be concluded in our next.)
THE SLANDERER. AGAINST slander there is no defence. Hell cannot boast so foul a fiend, nor man deplore so fell a foe. It stabs with a word, with a nod, with a shrug, with a look-with a smile. It is the pestilence walking in darkness, spreading contagion far and wide, which the most wary traveller cannot avoid, it is the heart-searching dagger of the dark assassin ; it is the poisoned arrow, whose wound is incurable; it is the moral sting of the deadly adder-murder its employment, innocence its prey, and ruin its sport.
The man who breaks into my dwelling, or meets me on the public road, and robs me of my property, does me injury. He stops me on the way to wealth, strips me of my hard-earned savings, involves me in difficulty, and brings my family to penury and want. But he does me an injury which can be repaired. Industry and economy may again bring me into circumstances of ease and affluence, and the smiles of gratitude may yet play upon the cheeks of my offspring, as they receive the small tokens of parental love.
The man who comes at the midnight hour, and fires my dwelling, does me injury. He burns my roof, my pillow, my raiment, my every shelter from the storm and the tempest. But he does me an injury which can be repaired. The storm may indeed beat upon me, and chilling blasts assail me ; but charity will receive me into her dwelling, will give me “ food to eat, and raiment to put on,” will kindly assist me in raising a new roof over the ashes of the old, and I shall again sit by my own fire-side, and taste the sweets of friendship and of home.
But the man who circulates false reports concerning my character, who exposes every act of my life which can be represented to my disadvantage, who goes first to this, then to that neighbour, tells them he is very tender of my reputation, enjoins upon them the strictest secrecy, and then fills their ears with hearsays and rumours, and, what is worse, leaves them to dwell upon the hints and suggestions of his own busy imagination—the man who in this way “ filches from me my good name," does me an injury which neither industry, nor charity, nor time itself can repair. He has told his tale of slander to an uncharitable world. Some receive it as truth ; others suspect that the half was not told them; and others dress what they have heard in the highest colouring, add to it the foul calumny of their own invention, and proclaim it in the corners of the streets, and upon the housetops. Should I prove myself innocent, and attempt to meet the scandal by contradiction, the story of my disgrace outstrips me, or my solicitude to contradict it, excites suspicion of guilt. Should the slanderer confess his crime, the blot is made, and his tears of repentance cannot wash it out. I might as well recall the winds, or quench the stars, as recall the tale of infamy, or wipe this foul stain from my character.
I attach a high value to the esteem and confidence of my fellow-men. I cannot but wish, that while I live among them, I may hold a place in their affections, and be treated with the respect which is due to my station. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches," or than “precious ointment."
66 'Tis the immediate jewel of the soul,
The purest treasure mortal times afford.” Give me this, and I can face the frowns of fortune-can be pointed at as the child of poverty, and still know what it is to be happy. Take this away, and you strike a dagger into my soul; you render life itself a burden. The frowns of the world, the finger of scorn, and the hiss of contempt, are more than man can endure.
Yet, dear as reputation is, “and in my soul's just estimation prized above all price,” it is not too dear, it is not too sacred for the slanderer to tarnish and destroy. He can take from me the confidence of my employers, the respect of my friends—can blast my reputation with his pestilential breath, and feel not a pang of remorse. He glories in nothing so much as in the slaughter of character. He would blight the fairest flower in the garden of innocence, demolish the loftiest temple of human purity, and place his broad stamp of infamy on the holiest servant of the living God.
The slanderer has not a single pretext or excuse to palliate his offence. A desire of gain may urge some to the commission of crime. The incendiary and the assassin may be excited by this base passion to perpetrate their deeds of darkness and of death. But the