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A good book needs no preface, and a bad book deserves none. Yet, as friends from abroad bring missives of introduction, let me whisper to the reader how I came to write CHARITY GREEN. The character is no fiction. Every personage in the volume is sketched from life-reality. Names are vailed, situations disguised and facts of a wide compass compressed into brief. I have used the artist's privilege and humbly sought to follow in the steps of the art's great Master. Much that seems improbable is a transcript of genuine experience in the two hemispheres. My transatlantic friends will recognise in the benefactors of the humble foundling familiar faces under novel names.
Seeing how the glad and sacred rites of merry Christmas are becoming less and less the wellings out of Christian faith and sympathy, and more a mere pretext for mirth without heart and feasts without alms-giving, it occurred to me that a narration, of some of the true and wonderful things, which the Lord of Christmas has done, and is doing, in prompting earnest and worthy spirits to follow His example in befriending the homeless, in succoring and relieving the unfortunate, and no less in justifying His Providence, by bringing to nought the schemes of cruelty and injustice, might serve a purpose, in recalling us to a more genial and benevolent observance of the day.
Many of the incidents in the volume, now classed under the name of somnambulism, were familiar under a different title to the ancients. The mysterious quickening of the subjective powers of the mind, in states of trance and ecstacy, has been observed in every age. That there are divine dreams, as well as those produced merely from mundane causes, is too familiar a doctrine to all versed in the Fathers to be deemed an innovation on sound faith. One of the most remarkable of those occurring to the sweet girl whom the reader recognizes as Marian Deschamps, is paralleled by a similar experience in the life of Dr. Doddridge. The peculiar phenomena of the double consciousness have served other authors, and the reader will at once remember the tale of Zschokke, entitled “Die Verklærungen" and also the Ettrick Shepherd's “ Pilgrims of the Sun."
While the humble province of the narrator of events, which tako their place among things that amuse, rather than with high words to instruct, makes the recital of a creed superfluous, the author yet ventures to hope, that not a line has escaped his pen to militate against any tenet of the Christian faith.
If scenes of mere humor alternate with those wherein the grave and tragic or the purely sacred side of life is handled, the thread of the story pleads an excuse. The church and the theatre stand side by side ; the marriage group and the funeral procession jostle in the streets; the merry bird sings in the branches that overshadow the tomb. Life is made up of contrasts. It is well to see the world as it is, while we eschew the evil. If, in the denouement of the plot, a special Providence is vindicated, this results inevitably from the combination of events which served as the original from which the work was drawn. Till we meet again, dear reader, farewell.
HOW CHARITY GREEN CAME THERE
Mr. Bushwig was at dinner;-the Honorable and Reverend Alphonso Bushwig, Rector of Richmanstown and perpetual Curate of Sloppery. He was comfortable, indeed we may say very comfortable. Monarch of the table, from tureen and cover rose incense grateful to his nostrils. The venison was worthy of the guest. He was a judge of ven-ison. His olfactories rejoiced in its flavor: it was high.The claret was cool.
He had preached that day. It was Christmas. The church was decked with holly. He had preached under the holly. Graceful fingers had wreathed it around the altar, twined it from column to column and gathered it in clusters about the organ in the choir. It hung in great festoons against the dark oak of the galleries and blushed to rosy crimson in the red light of the stained and painted oriel.There was holly everywhere. They had formed it in letters. for all to read as they entered,
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Merrily and bravely rang the bells in all the steeples, as if they knew that they pealed in honor of Him whose king. dom is peace and love forevermore. The gilded and winged trumpeters on many an ancient belfry shone like
real angels in the clear, auroral light. Over hill and valley floated echo after echo, as if the hills were glad and told it to upland and dell and dingle. Ring on, ring on, brave chimes! Children listened, and the elder repeated to the younger the story of the Advent, till the little ones, aroused by the ringing before the morning star had vanished, asked if that was not the one that shone before the Wise Men of the east and led them to the manger where the Divine Child lay. Fair brides awoke and listened, from bashful and innocent dreams of tender love; and aged widows,—they too awoke with the prayer-book under the pillow, and, as the sacred music died away, their hearts arose to where the Christmas music never ends;-the Eternal Christmas Land!
Jolly tapsters at their ale, honest burghers of every craft, poor and rich, old and young, early travelers, cricketers and skaters preparing for their sport,-to all came that cheerful music, pealing with a benediction from the skies.
There was preaching under the holly in St. Winifred's. A brave sermon it was and from a brave text. The Honorable and Reverend Alphonso Bushwig was emphatic. He declaimed against Popery, against Dissent, against Atheism. His fine discourse produced a sensation. Dr. Bumblefuz took snuff sonorously as if he would say, "hear! hear!" The Misses Flummery softly tapped their dimpled fingers against the Psalters, and silks and satins rustled well pleased. Squire Drone woke from his nap in the great pew. He had dreamed that he was following the hounds. Lady Drone pinched him on the arm just as he was at the finding. He might have shouted "Yoicks! Tally-ho!" had he not recovered himself in time.
The discourse was orthodox. It is a poor heart that Christmas cannot warm with memories of Him whose name is written in charity world-wide, in blessings everlasting. "My brethren," said the orator, "believe in God and believe