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in Him as incarnate in the person of His blessed Son, our Savior!”
The discourse was charitable. It had been written for an occasion like this by young Stephen Guthrie just before he died. The candle of that clear mind burned low in its socket and flickered and went out in a London garret. To write sermons for other men to preach, sermons to be sold to dig. nified Divines by fashionable booksellers, written in a dainty hand and guaranteed as original and never pronounced in public, was his scant resource when dying in his blasted prime. This was Stephen Guthrie's last sermon, the last he ever wrote. He was propped up in his bed with pillows. All broken-hearted his young life fluttered out toward God. The charity that the world had not shown him gleamed palpably in visions of high-wrought extacy before his mind's eye. Those burning sentences were composed with Golconda and all its diamonds streaming from his pen. Through the chinks and crannies of that wasted body entered the light that shines on dying men. So, enriched with all that wealth of thought and imagery which rests like a glorycrown upon the foreheads of departing saints, he wrote concerning the unsearchable riches of His kingdom who came to be the Father of the fatherless and the poor man's God.
The congregation listened. The Reverend Alphonso Bushwig delineated the excellences of charity, of Christian charity. He described the pains of hunger. Squire Drone drew forth his watch, whose golden hands, pointing onward, prophesied dinner. The huge Boar's head, the spiced October, the ham and the turkey, and, oh! never-to-be-forgotten! the sirloin that maketh man's heart glad, hecatombs of Christmas cheer awaiting him at Turnagain Hall,-delectable mountains of fish, flesh and fowl,-- prospectively rejoiced his vision. Simon Snail, the sexton, Martha Muggins, bar-maid at the Green Lion, Hezekiah Pinch, the miser,
all in their several fashions were affected by the discourse. At last came the climax. “Such a sermon had never been preached before in Richmanstown:" so said all the parish.
This was the Reverend Alphonso's morning work. Let oone think that the poor chronicler of this veritable history despises the Church of God in any of its forms. Let the bells peal in all the steeples! Let temples rise whereever rich men or poor men have their habitations! Let the servants of the altar imitate the Master's example while they proclaim His words! Let the great Book our forefathers loved be given to all mankind without money and without price!
It was dinner. The turbot steamed. The haunch smoked. The celery was crisp; the claret cool; the mild and generous vintages of Burgundy and Champagne of the most admired boquet. “Ah! let painters rhapsodize of the beauties of nature; let poets compose madrigals in honor of her charms,” soliloquized the worthy man, “but dinner,—the seventh heaven of the day, the Paradise of the Arabian prophet without its chattering plagues, the bounties of the seasons exalted by the triumphs of art, the feast of all the senses,— this is the true banquet for the practical man.” That dinner complained not, as do forsaken wives, for lack of appreciation. It was tasted, eaten and enjoyed ;—not gobbled, not devoured, but considerately appropriated, as should be all the bounties which a gracious Providence bestows upon us.
With the flavor of the last grape of the dessert upon his tongue, with half a sigh escaping from his heart that earth's best joys should be so evanescent, with the Madeira like summer sunshine twinkling from its slender glass, and pipe in mouth, the Reverend Alphonso rested from his labors. For meerschaums and hookahs and hubble-bubbles he entertained a dignified aversion. For the segar, balmy solace of ambitious students and planters under the torrid sun, he
cherished at best a distant regard; but the pipe, of parest silex and alumine, guiltless of a stain, long in stem and capacious in bowl, with many a Dean and Bishop and venerable Arch-deacon this was his especial luxury. Slowiy he inhaled the grateful odor, as became a middle-aged Divine with splendid hopes of church preferment.
Simon Snail, the sexton, had won the title of the knave of spades, but our parson was the very king of hearts. A welcome guest with sighing dames and damsels, rotund and rosy, he had as yet capitulated to none. No stray arrow from the quiver of the blind boy had produced, as he boasted, those heart flutterings that so sadly impair digestion. His was indeed a very Malakoff of appetites, invincible.
Oh, these after-dinner dreams! how soothingly the odors of the Virginian or Cuban leaf compose the senses, till the dinners we have not eaten rise from the shades of the dinners of the past in a hospitable vision of good things to come. How fantasy loves to tickle the ear and bewitch the palate with impossible joys. The lover muses of his mistress, till the last fumes that curl from his mouth and eddy to the window mingle with the sunset, and change, in his extacy, to flowing robes around a sylph-like, maiden shape. Utopians muse of Arcadian commonwealths. The man in the Moon reveals to gentle idealists all sorts of Chateaux D'Espagne,- castles in the clouds. But your practical man, he dreams of solid satisfactions. What marvel, then, that, in his after-dinner-nap, the Rector of Richmanstown enjoyed an imaginary interview with his uncle, the Earl. “ Alphonso,” said the phantom, tapping him on the organ of conscientiousness with a gold headed cane, “you are a credit to the family and a pillar to the establishment. Your prayers are heard. You shall be translated into a Bishopric.”
All this was very well, but in our world Opulence and
Destitution are near akin, and CHARITY GREEN, as Christmas night came on with sleet and snow and darkness and freezing winds, a slender, shivering child wrapt in a gipsy's tattered cloak, sat in the shadow of St. Winifred's.
Early in the morning, with unseemly haste, a pauper's coftin had been let down to its last resting spot. A gipsy woman traveling on foot with this one child had died the day before, as its occupants said, of some sudden heart disease, in the ale-house near by. If she had money and trinkets those knew best who stealthily searched her garments in the attic where they laid her out, and then, with obstreperous complaints, bewailed that poor folks should have a traveling vagrant die on their hands.
From the threatened, the dreaded Work House, sad shelter, where worn-out poverty lies down to consume the years in dying,-out into the fields, into wild dells and hazel copses bare of leaf, yet graceful as a flying fawn that half turns its head at every sound and flies away, the child whom the gipsy had called her own, little cared for, sought by none, had made her escape. Then when the hasty funeral was over, and the church-yard deserted, and Rector and people at their Christmas cheer, coming to it stealthily with blue lips and numbed and aching limbs, she had found the burial-place.
“Dust to dust! Ashes to ashes !” Heavily fall such words as these on strong minds encased with vigorous bod. ies and surrounded by living friends. With monotonous blows, like the dull strokes of breakers, that child of scarcely more than seven summers felt the waves of trial and abandonment and homeless destitution break upon her young heart, till the twilight faded and the wild wind shook out in snow from the gathered cloud. “Ashes to ashes! Dust
taine, the merry Christmas night! There were high revels of amtap-room of the Green Lion; high revels in the oaken
parlors of Turnagain Hall; high revels everywhere. It was merry Christmas.
But far at sea ships were foundering with no friendly hand to pluck drowning men and women from their watery graves. Wrecks occur on land as well as on ocean. Hearts were foundering in that darkness for whom Christ died.
Charity Green !” Was there a voice, a living voice, a friendly voice, of gentle woman or sympathizing man; or was it but the wild gust, striking on some sensitive nerve in the soul's ear, rousing perhaps an echo sleeping there?
The child listened, half cowering behind an old tombstone, gray with moss, fearing not the death's head carved upon it, perhaps taking comfort from the marble cherub's face and wings. Again the voice, and now more soft, more clear. It was no fancy.
Reader, have you ever heard such voices, not audible in a sense like that in which gruff men in the streets address cach other; but tender, infantile, altogether dream-voices, as if they were the little souls of sounds that had not yet taken bodies upon themselves ? Sounds that melt into one with a sudden feeling of warmth and shelter; sounds that good men tell us they have heard half asleep, heavy with the honey dew of Paradise; sounds that bad men affirm they have listened to, smiting the soul with a sudden sharpness of remorse and whispering ominously of God's judgments; sounds that little infants seem to hear when they half lean from the cradle with looks of wonder and quiet joy; sounds that forebode the coming of friends; that re-assure us of safety on benighted roads; that seem to break out of the hearts of affianced lovers, while the June roses hang down their heads to listen, and the "sweet jug; sweet jug;” of the distant nightingale hushes for a moment that he may listen as well; sounds that saints respond to when the door of the body stands ajar for the exit of the departing angel : songs in the night before the morning :