Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

averred that he was fit very nice gentleman, giving no trouble with his cooking, for he mostly prepared his own dinner of some whitish stuff with a "fun-in" name, (macaroni,) than which she would sooner eat a mess of stirabout any day herself; so different from dear Mr. Chetwynd, which liked his little comforts as well as anybody, as why shouldn't he? And she could not deny but the "furrin" gentleman had a habit of talking to himself in an outlandish way that no mortal could understand a word; and he was over and above fond of smoking little paper pipes he made himself, (cigarettes); but he was careful out of all measure of a little twig he had growing in a pot—only a, couple of green leaves, not a flower at all. Now that same budding twig was his passport straight into Mr. Latymer's romantic heart.

Why is it that the romantic affections so graceful in youth, nay, so essential that youth without trace of them is n monstrosity, become ungainly in advancing years? Perhaps, because when they appear beyond the natural term of duration, their existence is as frequently correlative with a distinguishing want of practical sense. Mr. J.atymor had the misfortune to retain such attribute of his youth still, in overpowering quantity. It had nearly brought him to an imprudent marriage long ago, and yet had put him off therefrom afterwards by becoming linked with his pride. Still he shaped sonnets to the Moon, disregarding rheumatism in his efforts to gain inspiration from that cliill luminary. When he beheld the Italian's twin-leaved twig, he recognised it for a slip of orange-tree, brought, of course, from Pescara's own sunny birth-land; what tender feeling it betrayed—what passionate patriotism! Mr. Latymer's admiration for the exile was thenceforth unbounded.

Yet, despite his touching love for everything connected with "la patria," an incident occurred one day rather at variance with the valiant scar on his chin. The friends had been walking in an alley of

the shrubbery shaded by fir-trees, amid an atmosphere pervaded by that subtle resinous odour which is now discovered by physicians to be so eminently salubrious, that the neighbourhood is planted with pines about sundry continental health resorts, merely for its sake. As they emerged on the broad avenue, another foreign figure appeared at the turn close by—an Italian likewise—an itinerant Savoyard, with monkey on shoulder and greencovered organ on his back, whose unshorn muzzle instantly parted amid its black bristles into a whitetoothed grin from ear to ear, as he recognised persons upon whom he might probably levy tribute. Pescara stared as if he had seen a ghost: and his countenance by no means expressed unmixed gratification

••' How charming, a fellow-countryman!" exclaimed Mr. Latymer. looking not at him, but at the approaching pleasurable object, which having touched its hat, began forthwith to grind. "My dear friend, you can now have the happiness of hearing your native tongue spoken in its integrity. You can hold discourse with another from the soil of beautiful Italy!"

But Pescara did not seem to see; it. With something very like a gasp, and his hand pressed to his liver, as he felt that organ growing pallid, he stammered out, "Not just now, amigo mio—I am not well—I am ill —I must depart—a rivedersi, my dear gentleman!" And he disappeared in the shrubbery shaded by fir-trees. The fact is, that he was horribly frightened; much moreso than was permissible in any person adorned by such a sword-scar.

The innocent occasion of his dread passed on towards the house, in obedience to a wave of Mr. Latymer's hand, grinding out his music as he went. Our Piedmontese had been round the country on a professional tour, enchanting the cottagers everywhere, especially with that lively specimen of animal life, his monkey in a scarlet jacket, and its brilliant performances. May we venture to say a word in favour of his music'.' Xow-a-days it ia the fashion not to tolerate barrel-organs. "Unmitigated nuisance." say the people who can hire and hear the best music at pleasure. But how about the multitudes who cannot do this ? Does nobody prefer a simple air performed in faultless time, to a mangled masterpiece on the piano'.' Without doubt these street-organs are the music of the poor—the only glimpse to be had by the masses of those gems of melody which charm the rich. And if for this reason alone,—because they add a gleam of pleasure to lives of toil, long may Britons have Italians to minister unto them in the matter of barrelorgans.

"Certainly a nobleman in disguise," cogitated Mr. Latymer concerning the bolted Signor. Already

he knew that caution formed a marked feature in Pescara's character: caution amounting to suspicion. Was the little post-office at Kyle safe? No letters ever opened by order of your Government? Absolutely no seal ever broken—but sacred confidence observed? Answered as such queries are answered on British soil, he seemed but halfreassured. And the sudden sight of a countryman in the flesh had quite upset his nerves; his continental imagination was imbued with an idea of spies. He spent his evening in the thickest plantation he could find, experienced the differences in dam]) between a British beech-wood and a Tuscan oliveve; and stole home after night, double-locking his chamberdoor.

A GLANCE AT THE MISSION FIELD.

The beneficent genius of the missionary enterprise, whether at home or in foreign lands, is well illustrated by an incident quoted the other day by the Rev. Aubrey Price. On one occasion a Scotchwoman was terrified at seeing a horse gallop down a street, and dragging behind it the fragments of a shattered carriage,from which the driver had been thrown ; while directly in front of the track of the infuriated beast a little child was playing and prattling. Her mother's heart leaped within her, and with a wild cry she darted forward at the peril of her life, snatched the child from the very jaws of death, and clasped it to her bosom. A bystander who had not stirred a step to help, turned his cold grey eye upon the mother, and said, "Why, woman, that is not your child!" "No," she replied, as the warm blood flowed back into her pale cheeks, " no, bless it; but it's somebody's bairn." And in that answer we have the disinterested compassion of those who look abroad upon their fellow-creatures as children of that same Father who *• made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the

earth," and which teaches us to exclaim,—

"Shall we, whose souls are lighted

With wisdom from on high;
Shall we to men benighted

The lamp of light denv?
Salvation, oh, salvation \

The joyful sound proclaim,
Till each remotest nation

Hath learnt Messiah's name."

Since our last "Glance at the Mission Field," we have had opportunity of perusing at leisure the reports and speeches of many of our leading missionary societies, from which we propose now to cull some treasures, reserving, however, many besides for future reference.

A few 3'ears ago. a letter was addressed to the London Missionary Society from a " gardener" at Stoke Ncwington, offering himself for the mission work. Ultimately his services were accepted, and William Ellis has laboured long and well in the field. Fifty summers have passed away since that gardener began his spiritual husbandry, and once more with smiling face and brisk step, his spare but well-knit form stood upon the platform at Exeter Hall. His last four years in Madagascar have somewhat weak- cned sight and voice; but there is the wonted play in those cyo^, and the same gracefulness of utterance as of yore. "A little more prey in the hair, a little more depth in the facial lines," and that is all. "Five times," he says, "has the annual gathering of this great society been held since I had the pleasure of appearing among you : but," he adds, and we feel how true are his words, "I have been with you in spirit."

The change that has taken place in the condition of Madagascar between Mr. Ellis's first visit and his last could not fail powerfully to impress both mind and heart. Even ten years ago it deep night of idolatry brooded over the length and breadth of the land, with nothing to mitigate its terror but a few small points of light that seemed to make the gloom around only the more profound. Around the homes of those who were suspected of being Christians, sentinels and spies were posted to detect anything that might create or confirm suspicion; and trial, and fetters, and probably death would have followed conviction. When conversing with Christians, they would say to Mr. Ellis, "We must pray; we cannot live without praying;" but if he dared to pray with them it was only when night had cast its mantle over the scene; and in the innermost room in his house they would kneel together —praying in a whisper, lest they should be overheard, nor might those who had thus assembled venture to leave the house till midnight had passed. "It came to my knowledge," says Mr. Ellis, " that at one time eight sentinels were planted round the inelosurc with orders to take down the names of any persons who came to my house. I recollect the last night I spent before departing for my native land. A number of distinguished Christians had come to spend that last night with me. We remained perhaps from nine or ten o'clock in conference and prayer till nearly two in the morning, and even then they dared not venture out to their homes without first sending a person to look at the gntels through

which they could pass into the street. Such," he adds. "was the state of Madagascar when I came away."

The edict had gone forth, and the missionaries must leave. Then the night of persecution followed—persecution more fearful than ever had been known in Madagascar. Six of those who had been present at that farewell meeting, including some of the most eminent Christians in the island, suffered death; and everything that malignant heathenism could devise was done to extirpate the votaries and the faith of the gospel. At last, in 18(11, the morning of anew day began to break; and no sooner did the tidings reach this country than arrangements were made for conveying to the Malagasy Christians the assurance of the sympathies and prayers of the Christians of England, and for a renewal of the mission work among them. Within a fortnight Mr. Ellis was on board the vessel that was to convey him thither, and in due time he reached his destination. How different now was the scene from that he had previously witnessed! The foam was still breaking high over the reef on either side tl;e harbour of Tamatave, there were the same lowly huts by the battery on the sandy beach; but instead of the heads of thirteen Englishmen and Frenchmen stuck upon poles to terrify foreigners from those dread shores, there was a white flag bearing in scarlet letters the name of " iiadnma," the friend of the Christians. Instead of Christians being afraid to identify themselves with the missionary, two officers came on board to say that they were expressly deputed by the churches to bring Mr. Ellis a welcome; and subsequently a messenger from the palace arrived with a letter inviting him to proceed at once to the capital. Instead of assembling as of yore under the ban of persecution, the Christians gathered upon the Sabbath in their several congregations, and Mr. Ellis first visited that which met for worship in a chapel that not long before had been turned into a prison for felons and for Christians—a building which. in order further to desecrate it, had been used also as a stable. And on that spot whence the first martyrs had been led forth to die, a congregation of 800 were assembled, who welcomed the missionary with a hymn of thanksgivings to God. In broken words he told them of his appreciation of their kindness: assured them that England had never forgotten the long night of suffering through which they had passed; that English Christians had sent him to convey then- expression of unabated affection ; and that they w ere anxious to aid still further in carrying on among the Malagasy the work of God. "I also told them," he added, " that there was a large number of Bibles coming, and also several missionaries. After I had spoken, thanks were returned to God in utterances interrupted by the tears of the people. I may mention that it is an unusual thing with them to show emotion. The Malagasy are not like the Africans— emotional in the expressions of their religious feelings. I do not say they have not religious feelings, or that these are not strong, but they are not accustomed to give vent to them. On that occasion, however, there was a manifestation; they were unable to repress it, so great was their joy. And I may take this opportunity of saying that if there is one thing more than another which strengthens and encourages the heart, and brightens the prospects of the churches in Madagascar, next to the unfailing truth of God in regard to His own promise, and His assurance that He will never leave them nor forsake them, it is that they are one with the Christians of England." It is an interesting peculiarity of their language that they speak of England as their father and mother. And when it has been said—" How can we be both father and mother?" they have replied, " You and your country, and the Christians in England, are nil that father and mother can be to us; we have affection, we have kindness, we have care, and we have assistance and help from them; they are father and mother to us."

Similar scenes were presented elsewhere. On the same day Mr. Ellis found 1,000 people occupying a large carpenter's shop, which the government had given them for worship. Here a number of government workmen had been formerly instructed by lay members of the early mission in the arts of working wood and iron, and also in the more excellent knowledge which makes wise unto salvation. "I thanked God," says Mr. Ellis, " when I saw the simplicity, order, and-apparent sincerity of their worship. I then visited," he adds, "another church in the west, nearly as large, and well filled with Christian worshippers. There were, perhaps, nearly 1,000 people there, and the same services were carried on."

Five and thirty years ago the first converts to Christ in Madagascar*— twelve in number—were baptised. There are now, in the capital alone, eight congregations, connected with which there are about 12,400 hearers, including more than 2.QUO communicants; and when Mr. Toy wrote by a recent mail, he mentioned that he had nearly 200 candidates, whom in the course of the next three months he expected to admit into Christian communion. The Church of the capital is also a missionary and aggressive church. Some of its best men are sent out to such of the villages around as contain a little congregation—perhaps a Christian family or two, and these serve as the nuclei of further operations. Connected with two of the metropolitan churches there are thus no fewer than sixteen village churches.

How, we may here inquire, has so remarkable a result been secured? and the answer is one on which Christians in every land may profitably reflect. When we trace the stream of Christian influence up to the fountain-head, we find that it was not the weight of eloquent preaching, not the spread and the spell of some great religious revival, not even the reading of the Word of God, that has been chiefly instrumental in this work. Generally it has been the spirit—the character— the conduct — the conversation of Christian members in their own family circle that first produced a favourable impression upon the minds of those who became converts, and led them to tliink that there must be something strong and true in a religion that could produce so great a result. "I remember,'' they would say, " this man when he was a thief, that man when he was a drunkard; I remember this mau when he was addicted to every vice, find when we were afraid of him, nnd used to detest him; and now a more honest, true, sober, and kindhearted man than he coidd not be. There must be something in this now religion that could produce all these changes."

Nor must we forget to tell that in bringing about the altered temper of the Malagasy government towards Christianity in that island, the sovereign lady of these realms has shared. We thank her, and we thank Him from whom all right thoughts and holy desires ever come, that, when the recent draft of the treaty of amity and commerce between Great Britain and Madagascar was being prepared, there arose in the heart of our well-beloved sovereign a desire to insert in that document the following memorable plea—a plea that thrilled from woman's heart to woman's :—" Queen Victoria asks, as a matter of personal favour to herself, that the Queen of Madagascar will allow no persecution of the Christians." The request availed, and in the treaty that was returned, there came the answer: "In accordance with the wish of Queen Victoria. Queen Kasoherina engages that there shall be no persecution of the Christians in Madagascar."

Every section of the Christian Church in England will join in the welcome accorded the other day to Dr. Mullens, who, after twenty-two years' labour in the mission field abroad, has been called to responsible office in the administration of mission affairs at home. Fresh from scenes of labour, we naturally ask, "Watchman, what of the night?" And this watchman answers with an accent that rings out clear and full—" Night there is, indeed, but

'the morning cometh.'" Long has the darkness lingered over mighty regions of the east. Mohammedanism, when it came to India, had added pride, ferocity, and treachery to the vices that had already found a congenial soil. "The warlike zeal of Mahmoud, of Ghiznce," says Dr. Mullens, "the ruthless fanaticism of Allah-ud-din, the stern bigotry of the great Emperor Aurungzebe, crushed down under foot all the rights of the Hindoos, plundered them of their property, drove their women into seclusion, and left thousands of their temples heaps of ruins. Hindooism, again, has only led the people into an idolatry growing more and more degraded every year. It produced the terrible system and sufferings of suttee and hook-swinging: it has never been able to check falsehood and lies; it has led tlie people into deeper and deeper vices. And, until Christianity came, the wise and gentle teacher—came like Christ Himself, with silent footstep, words of compassion, and deeds of might, to soothe crusliing sorrow, nnd to bind broken hearts, no one had ever appeared to satisfy human longings or to dig up the deep springs of human woe. Growing enlightenment and public law—the law established for Christian nations—have already swept some of these evils away; and those influences of tlie Gospel are now at work which, under the Spirit's blessing, shall eventually cure them all." Yes, " the morning cometh!"

Much of the work that has been done in India, as well as elsewhere, has been preliminary. "We have learned," it has been truly said, " to know ourselves; we have learned to know our antagonists; we understand Hindooism; wo know all its literature; we know its history; we know its arguments; we know thespirit, the character, the resources of its priests; we have seen the vast vested interests that stand on the side of idolatry, and form such an awful banier to tlie spread of truth and the progress of conviction. But we have fleshed our maiden sword: we have already won our first victories, and we know that there is

« ElőzőTovább »