« ElőzőTovább »
That was a merry day when he marched away to military service, for neither father nor mother wept his departure; he was early an orphan. From the service of his first employer he entered the regiment, where all served like himself. The years fled away, he himself knew not how, and when the prescribed term of service was over, he received bounty-money and remained as a substitute another five years. The lace sewn upon his left sleeve alone shewed his age, otherwise he seemed as young as ever to himself, and he now acquired a little property through the service. In the last year or two he became acquainted with his Margaret. Great as was the number of his comrades in the barracks, Stephan now perceived how solitary and forlorn was his condition; he should now belong to some one in the world. Days full of joy and sorrow arrived, for henceforth the soldier's life was irksome to Stephan, and after a year of faithful waiting he requested his discharge, and with the money he had lying in the regiment's fund he redeemed the mortgaged cottage and two acres of land of Margaret's mother's, returned with her into her native village, and there th dwelt together with her mother. During his long soldier-life Stephan had grown unused to village life; he had worn gloves too long; but labour soon drew a tanned skin over his hands which could not be drawn off. Every kind of work was at first disagreeable to him, but that did not matter much, a healthy man soon finds himself at home in any toil. Yet one very sad effect remained; Stephan had forgotten how to provide for himself. In the barracks was food, and firing, and lodging, and everything comfortable, and all, as it were, of its own accord, and all in its regular routine, did you only fulfil your ordinary duty. Now, Stephan was his own commander, and his own regiment, and this was very burthensome to him; he would much rather have entered another service again, and thus have a fixed work and fixed wages. But this was not to be found, and it was well Margaret had a
firm character. During the first years, whilst the family was still
small, all went well; but now the cottage was again mortgaged, one acre sold and vanished in daily bread, and nowhere hope of better times.
To burden your housd with a debt, is like making over your home to the evil one; there is a ghost in the house which suddenly rends holes in the thickest walls, and breathes coldly upon you from its concealment.
It seemed now to Stephan very draughty in the room, for he had just thought of the debt and called up the ghost. He asked himself how he could ever release himself, and became dejected.
This often happened: he was not qualified to invent plans for his deliverance, and he was utterly without dexterity.
A person sinking into poverty is like a ship-wrecked mariner standing on a little island in the middle of an ocean; he stands forlorn, and witnesses how the never pausing waves loosen and swallow for ever piece after piece. He still stands upon a fragment which bears him, and at length feels this also sink, together with himself.
The very worst which can happen to one sinking into poverty is that state of discouragement which prevents him from making use of his powers, and which despairingly allows misfortune to overwhelm him.
Stephan led a dull, introverted, monotonous life. He was ready for any work, and worked away at it industriously, yet although the proverb says "labour has a bitter root but sweet fruit," he was no longer aware of either. No work was difficult to him; but neither had he the consolation of feeling that in it he had done his duty. His soul seemed covered up and buried as it
Thus yesterday he had seen how the body of his eldest child was sunk into the earth, yet had remained unmoved. When he saw the coffin, he thought where he should get the money to pay for it; and when the pastor spoke words of consolation and blessing, he thought that he should have to pay for these words. "Death is not without expense!" murmured he to himself.
Therefore, late in the night he had had a sharp dispute with his wife, because he upbraided her for her lamentations, and she him for his hard-heartedness. He now sate silent, lost in the recollection of the time when he stood alone and free in the world, when so many human lives were not yet bound up in his, and his past life seemed a lost paradise to him. He did not think of the many vexations of those times (and thus it is almost ever when we think on the past), how he was never his own master, or how often he had cursed his life. He saw only now the misery about him; and how different it had been when he had to care for no one in the world. A horrible thought must have arisen in him at this moment, for he started as if struck by lightning, and his face flushed crimson;--the child on his knee, frightened by this start seized him by the chin. Stephan's countenance brightened, he lifted up the child and kissed it fervently. It was as though by this kiss, he would beg pardon for the black thought which had sprung up within his soul.
He went with the child into the kitchen to his wife with whom, since last night he had not exchanged a word.
"Shall you soon be ready?" asked he.
"I have only two hands!" she replied gruffly. She was angry from last night, and thought Stephan also was angry. But in a mild tone he asked,— ', Cannot I help you?"
Margaret did not hear the mild tone and said,"No. Go back again. Men are only in one's way in the kitchen. Do you hear how the child cries? Go, I can't be at two places at once."
Stephan obeyed, but full of anger; he thought he
had been so full of love, and had yet been so harshly treated; he forgot that his wife could not divine what was passing within him, and that in reality he had expressed none of his feeling to her.
Strange! When people begin quarrelling and disputing, the most timid become eloquent; yet, has a word of love or reconciliation to be spoken they writhe, and cringe, and stammer, or fancy that the others must see and know of their own accord what is passing in their
Stephan angrily rocked the child, who, with its little closed hands laid on its breast, soon fell asleep,-until he had almost flung it on the floor, and then he stopped. He was doubly irritable, for he was hungry. In an empty stomach gall soon overflows; thou canst remark this the hour before dinner, and this hour with the poor,-unhappy wretches!-often extends through the whole day. Thus may be explained why they so often excite themselves about trifles, and torment each other. The bitterest fruit of poverty is often, alas! discontent with yourself and those about you.
Full of anger, Stephan awaited the evening meal. It is true a piece of bread still lay in the cupboard; he looked at and examined it, and then laid it back in its place un-decreased in size. To-morrow was only Saturday, and no bread could be bought before Sunday. At length Margaret brought the pot full of boiled tatoes, poured them out on the table, and placed salt near them. She then folded her hands and said grace. Stephan in a low voice repeated it after her. But what manner of prayer is that, when your heart is full of anger against your neighbour, whilst words of devotion are on your lips? How can your soul arise to the Highest when laden with such a burden? Does not such prayer become mere lip-worship and litany?
True, thou wilt say if prayer were forbidden to all such as are unjust and harsh towards their fellow men, many lips would long since have forgotten how to say amen, and on the church benches there would lie the dust of years!
But nevertheless think whether we have a right to fold our hands, instead of opening and extending them to reconciliation and the aid of others.
But now we will observe our couple at supper; truly by looking on, one does not eat a single moisel.
All is silent, for no one will speak a word. The little girl whom Stephan had placed on a chair near him, at length breaks the silence by asking,
66 Where then is our Anton ?"
Peter replied with a wise look,
Oh, he is in heaven before now, and is eating his supper with our Lord God. Our master says there are many million miles between the earth and the sun, but that when you die, you are there in a minute.
Margaret heaved a deep sigh, large tears stood on her eyelashes; Stephan looked at her with compressed lips; one did not know whether it was anger and compassion
which spoke in him.
With difficulty he compelled himself to swallow some potatoe, but it seemed to him as if his throat were tied up. He muttered to himself, "It would be a good thing if one were dead!" and then leaning back in the chair he shook his head, as if to get rid of the remembrance of that which had irrevocably happened.
We often are wonderfully successful in getting rid of oppressive thoughts: it was so with Stephan. It is true that he no longer felt hunger; but he now determined to eat, because now was the time for doing so and he remembered that he had experienced the of hunger. At moments like this, whatever people put pangs into their mouths tastes like dry straw.
In a while Stephan looked at his wife with a glance
which said a great deal, but which in fact asked reproachfully and bitterly, "Am I to get nothing to-day ?” It had hitherto been a rule with Margaret, before she dexterity, the very best potatoe of the whole heap, put a morsel to her own lips, to peel with astonishing break it in two, put in some salt, and give it to her husband. This little act of kindness went on while she ate. To-day however she was a long time about it, for she was rather out of humour, and therefore he cast at wife saw in it only reproaches and anger. And what her that glance of which we have said so much. The right had Stephan to her kindness! Could not he peel for himself what he wanted to eat? So thought Margaret, and handed the potatoes as she peeled them to the children, as if to show favour to them because their father was so out of humour with her.
of a really kind-hearted desire for reconciliation, though With that Stephan smiled to himself, and partly out partly also out of a suppressed feeling of revenge, that she might experience something of his sufferings (so he laid a potatoe which he had himself peeled before mixed are often the sentiments and actions of men) Margaret.
have not even washed your hands after your stone"Eat it yourself," said she obstinately, "and you breaking!"
Stephan bit his lips and at length growled out, hands when he kneads his dough ?” "where will you find the baker that has always clean
He shut his pocket-knife; rose from the table and left the house.
and swear to himself, the whilst an inaudible but deep No sooner was he out of doors than he began to storm voice replied to him,—
world," thought Stephen (that is how the question "I am, after all, the most miserable man in the may be,' remarked the voice). Must I not labour for wife and children, and tire myself to death like a horse, in wind and weather? (and the wife, she must stop at slaving and caring for them without peace or rest.') Í home with the sick mother and the crying children, never get a good word for all my trouble. (It is a words than thou hast given'.) Every penny of my question whether thou hast not received more good (Do then thy wages belong to thee or thy family? and wages I give up and don't keep anything for myself. has thy wife a secret hoard of her own?) I never buy anything good for myself! ('Does thy wife eat roast meat and salad privately?') I hav'nt known these wife drink wine every day?) And no thanks for all many weeks the taste of a drop of beer! ('Does thy this! (What thanks then dost thou want, when thou only dost thy duty ?') She treats me like a dog; for
a happy minute. (Oh, how thou liest to thy own my kindness nothing but an ill-return; I never know hours and days when her good heart made thee happy, and strengthened thee, and couldst thou not wind her soul! How cans't thou have forgotten the hundreds of round thy finger with only a kind word ?') My home might only be shot through my head! ('Do thou shoot is hateful to me; my life is hateful to me! if a bullet the evil thought, that would be much wiser!') And then when I was dead she would find out for the first time what she had had in me. A husband who has often allowed himself to be overcome ('Yes indeed, what? self,') If I could only go out into the wide world and and who now adds to his troubles, by tormenting himnever know about anything more! (From me however thou wouldst know something; I should go everywhere with thee !')"
voice of conscience to make itself heard within him; Thus thought Stephan to himself, and thus strove the but he would not listen to it.
(To be continued.)
THE SISTER OF CHARITY.
SHE was neither young nor pretty, Not one earthly charm had she When God sent her to our city,
A devoted nun to be.
None knew whether saint or sinner,
She had been ere here she came, We knew that the soul within her, Was an upward tending flame. But the world was all unable, With its dimmed and cloudy sight, To conceive how robes so sable,
Could enfold a soul so bright. Grief intense oft known to David,
In the whelming water-flood; Grief by which the world was savéd When the Saviour sweated blood. Grief that probes our inmost nature, Too intense for words to paint, Turns the passions of the creature, To the ardour of the saint.
So with her! so pure and holy
Was the air she seemed to breathe; None so loving, none so lowly,
Ever dwelt the heavens beneath. When the sufferer saw he blessed her Of her sympathy secure,
And the father who confessed her,
Ne'er had known a nun so pure. Her's was not a life of dreaming;
She to all who wept, seemed linked; Love for every sinner gleaming!
Self-love only seemed extinct.
Bade him look, and he grew calm. For she found him oft surrounded
By the outward aids of sense, Dwelling in a credence founded
On the spirit's impotence. Impotence to grasp the vision
Of the Saviour's dying love; Deeming that in it's transition
From the flesh to things above, Thought would never dare to enter Unsupported into space Guideless, where to find the centre Christ,-its final resting place.
We will now proceed to investigate certain other pleas put forth by the defenders of the gallows in support of that admirable and benevolent institution. We have inquired into man's moral commission to strangle his brethren we will next endeavour to ascertain whether he has a political right to do so. Government, according to a particular tribe of philosophers, derives a right to kill from the surrender of that individual right to avenge which each man possesses in a savage state. Let us see if these great philosophers are correct.
The theory of these political sages is obviously based upon the doctrine that government is a compact or agreement, by which the mass of men give up into the hands of a general administrator the natural rights that belong to them in a condition of independence. This doctrine may, I think, with certain unimportant modifications, be admitted: it seems the only rational and consistent principle on which governmental authority can be founded.
Our only question is plainly as to the extent and nature of the rights which the ruler receives from the community. Amongst the rights possessed by the individual in his natural condition, is there a right to take the life of a fellow-creature? If there be, then he has the power to surrender it to the ruler: if there be not, then, of course, the ruler cannot possess such a right by popular delegation.
Now, it must be perfectly clear that man has no general right to kill his fellow-creatures, for if he had, there would be no criminality in murder. The right to kill, if there be one, must strictly be limited to a moment of actual peril, when the individual attacked would certainly lose his life were he not to destroy his assailant. I, for my part, am prepared to go beyond this, and to assert, that not even the peril of death can justify the destruction of an assailant. I know of no moral system which permits the commission of evil for the prevention of evil: certainly the doctrine is radically inconsistent with the principle that if we are smitten on the one cheek, we are to turn the other also to the smiter. The plea of self-defence, however, prevails so universally, that I am willing for the sake of argument to waive my extreme opinion on this matter, and to adopt for the moment, the general belief. Our ca us will not suffer by this admission.
Granting, then, that the State possesses the right of destroying human life in self-defence, that is, for the actual preservation of existence, and with no other pretext: we must now inquire whether, even upon this ground, the execution of a murderer is justifiable.
The more we think of this divine right theory, the more we become persuaded of its utter childishness and folly. Look at it. Poor, weak, blind, faulty, misjudging man, set up as the judicial representative on earth of the all-wise, all-powerful, infallible God of the uniThe argument in the affirmative is twofold: first, that verse! Does that seem a probable arrangement? Does the murderer must be destroyed to prevent him from it appear likely that the Almighty would delegate his murdering again; and, secondly, that he must be de-authority to a being that has neither the strength nor the stroyed to prevent others from destroying. wisdom to wield it to advantage? Does it seem possible that the sword and sceptre of omnipotence should be committed into mortal hands? Can any one believe that the power to inflict the irrevocable doom of death is delegated to fallible humanity-to be exercised, too, upon humanity? In my opinion there cannot be a more impious and blasphemous idea. For it in effect says, that the Supreme is either unable or unwilling to govern the Creation he has formed, and is obliged to delegate his authority to a creature!
If the murderer can be prevented from committing more murders by any means short of killing him, then, of course, his destruction cannot be justified. It is only in the emergency of a threatening moment that the right can be said to exist in the case of an individual, and if he can prevent his own destruction by any other means than the destruction of the life of his assailant, he is bound to adopt those other means, and is guilty of murder if he do not. Precisely the same with the State. If it can restrain the murderer by any other And when we look at the list of sovereigns who we means than by killing him, it has no right to destroy are told have been God's vicegerents for governing him. Now, it must be evident that sufficient means mankind, the theory becomes as absurd as we have can be readily devised for any murderer's future re-found it to be unholy. From Saul, who was given to straint. The prison which is strong enough to hold the the children of Israel in God's wrath, down to the madman is surely strong enough to hold the murderer. monarchs of modern experience, kings seem rather to The proper prevention of future evil from the culprit is, have been representatives of Satan than of God. consequently, simply an affair of stone and mortar. It The Manassehs, Nebuchadnezzars, Neros, Caligulas, is a matter for the mason, not for the hangman. Upon Henrys and Georges, are unfortunately but types the ground, therefore, of any injury the murderer may of nearly the whole fraternity. Which of them has hereafter do to the State, his destruction is not ustifi- not "shed innocent blood," like the first, or used the able. Self-defence can be sufficiently ensured without "sword of justice" with the blind fury of a savage killing him. idiot-like the last? Will any man in his senses be daring enough to say that Richard III, was a minister of God? That Henry VIII, was a vicegerent of Heaven? That Charles II, was the Almighty's representative? That Robespierre was the commissioner of Deity? If there was such a man alive, I can only say that I heartily pity his credulity, and regret for the credit of humanity, that there should exist a mortal so like the animal that browses on the thistle.
2. But it will be urged that it is rather to prevent others, than to restrain him, that the murderer's life is taken it will be said that this murderer's destruction is our best means of self-defence against future murderers. In this case, the plea of self-defence is even less properly applicable than in the other. For here we strike the blow actually before we are attacked!-a sort of self-defence which it is difficult to reconcile with any known principle of logic.
Besides, it is found, as we have already proved at length, that the infliction of death upon murderers does not prevent other murders, but actually produces them. How the plea of self-defence can be made to agree with the fact, that the measure meant for self-defence, increases the crime, I confess myself at a loss to understand. Upon any ground, then, this plea of self-defence fails to support the conclusion that the gallows is justifiable; nay, it absolutely leads us to a totally opposite result: for in the investigation we find that self-defence is best promoted by a discontinuance of the punishment.
But there is another sort of Governmental right which has been often pleaded when the acts of a ruler have been called into question, and which is not unfrequently urged as "a settler" of the question before us:-I mean the "divine right" of sovereigns. Into this topic I propose now for a moment or two to inquire.
* Inst. lib. IV. cap. 20, sect. 23.
Power-say the believers in this comfortable theory -Power always comes from the Almighty: it is derived (according to Dr. Paley) "by immediate donation from the Deity;" and its possession is a proof that the holder of it is the representative of the Almighty on earth; which being the case, God's right to take life may be lawfully exercised by his vice-gerent, the ruler. sistence,' (says Calvin) " cannot be given to the magistrate without at the same time resisting God" I do not suppose that many of my readers, nay, I cannot believe that one of them, can believe so silly and mischievous a doctrine:-but as some few elderly ladies (of both genders) in other circles contend for it, we will be gallant enough to answer them, because of their
Kings the representatives of Heaven! I can believe most doctrines sooner than that. Brethren, unless heavenly tribunals were very different from human ones, there were but small chance of justice for any man! If the laws of this world were samples of the laws of the world to come, alas! for the great multitude of mortals! What I have read and seen of human government has led me to see in it rather the antagonist than the representative of God. I find that the thrones of the world have produced the greatest monsters of mankind. The impious, the idiotic, the lascivious, the blood-thirsty, the hypocritical, the ambitious, the tyrannical, the revengeful of our species find their chief examples amongst our kings. Search the records of the world for the worst of man's crimes,--and it will be found that a ruler has been the criminal.
I shall be told, perhaps, that history has its Alfreds as well as its Herods; its Davids as well as its Sauls; its Victorias as well as its Marys. I acknowledge it readily and thankfully. It would be hard, indeed, if with a line of rulers so bankrupt in virtue, we never by chance could get the small dividend of a good one! and these I cheerfully confess to be Heaven's representatives, as all good people are, whether kings or "Re-clowns, princes or peasants. But because there have been one or two good sovereigns amongst many thousands of bad ones, it is somewhat too bad to say that all monarchs must be the representatives of Deity and repositories of Almighty Power.
The theory of the Divine right of rulers inevitably leads to one of two conclusions, both of which are fatal to the plea under examination. Either rulers are right in everything they do: or they may possibly be wrong. If they are always right, then we must defend Manasseh's slaughters, Herod's impiety, Nero's ferocity, and
Charles's licentiousness:-if they may go wrong, then they may be wrong in inflicting the punishment of death, and cannot offer the plea of divine right with any title
So much for the sublime theory that rulers are commissioned representatives of God, when they choke a man on the Improved Drop at Newgate. I sincerely beg the reader's pardon for reviewing it at such length. It must not be supposed, however, that I deny the right of a government to punish at all: I only wish to define the proper principle of Punishment: a few words upon that subject, then, will not be out of place. Now I hesitate not to say that the only principle on which man can safely or morally inflict punishment on his fellow man is that of future prevention. He has no right to punish crime for its intrinsic demerit--that will surely be done by a greater and juster judge. He has no right derived from the community he governs; for the moral judgment of one individual by another is in no wise permissible by morality. He has no inherent right divine in virtue of his governmental office, as is proved by his errors and inability. What theory remains, then, but this-that his sole commission is to protect society by the exercise of those powers (and those alone) which society has the right to delegate
Punishment, in the strict sense of penalty for guilt, man has no right to inflict. Paley admits this when he says, "The proper end of human punishment is not the satisfaction of justice, but the prevention of crimes." Blackstone says precisely the same. There is no need that man should have the right of adjudging penalty to crime, for the punishment of guilt as guilt is provided for elsewhere:-and there is ample reason why he should not possess the power, in the fact that he has not strength to wield it. The compensation, or satisfaction of justice, nowise falls within man's province. To judge motive is in no case his duty: the absence of power to see the heart, from whence motive proceeds, is proof of this at once. His sole business is to wield the right transferred to him by the community for the temporal good of those under his care: anything beyond this, it will be found as absurd to attempt as it is impossible to achieve. To any punishment (short of taking life) that will undoubtedly prevent social evil, he may have recourse; but any inflictions proceeding farther, or aiming higher, are indispensible. With property, liberty, and social comfort, he may interfere, because they are things gained by the institution of society; but life he must not touch for it is the gift of God, and God only has the right to dispose of it. (To be continued.)
THINGS PRESENT AND THINGS UNSEEN.
A MOTHER took her two children out of the great city to a house on a high hill, and there resolved to live. She said, "their father was of pure and noble nature, and I will train them up to be worthy of him."
The air was free and sweet, as all mountain air is. The soft turf grew up to the door, and no sound was heard all night.
The children opened their eyes the first morning, and saw from their windows the green sloping side of the hill that led to the rocky summit, and above it the clear blue sky, with white clouds that slowly sailed across. They rose and went into the room where their mother waited for them. Everything there was cheerful and graceful, and a soft green light was spread
throughout it; for the wide window was covered by vine leaves, and the bright sun came streaming in through them with checquered rays. As the wind stirred the leaves, their shadows quivered and danced on the walls and floor of the room, and covered them with lovely forms and colours. The children were delighted with their happy home and threw their arms round their mother.
After a little while she took them to the window, "What lovely green leaves!" they said. She asked them if they would not like to see what was beyond ? They pushed aside a branch of the vine and saw the wide, distant view. It stretched away miles and miles, over plains, and hills, and forests. They saw winding rivers, and still lakes, and villages, and towns. Here and there a large mansion or castle; sometimes pleasant country houses; oftener little cottages and huts. They saw too, pasture land with sheep and cattle, and fields of growing corn, and wide waste commons, and rocky hills. The little vine leaves close to their eyes had shut out all this wide world from them. They exclaimed in wonder and ran out upon the green sward to see all
On every side but one, the view stretched away in varied beauty into the blue distance, where the sky
seemed to bend down to meet the earth. On one side
the rising slope of the hill with its rocky summit was all they could see.
"Let us climb up to the top of the hill," they said. So their mother went with them. It was very steep but the wild flowers sent up a delicious fragrance at every footstep, and the fresh air blew round them.
They reached the top at last, and found a firm platform of dark rock on which they rested, and looked round at the world that lay beneath them. Now it stretched out far beyond what they had seen before. From the height they had reached, they could see country, fertile and beautiful, and the blue sea in the far distance, beyond the point at which the sky had before seemed to meet the earth. Hills that had looked high, now looked like little hillocks. Their home lay at their feet and seemed to have become half its size. Cottages and woods, houses, flocks and villages that seemed large and numerous before, were like so many little points.
"We could not see it when we stood behind the vine leaves, but there the beautiful world was," they said; and we could not see it before we climbed to this rock, but there the blue sea was.
"And now you cannot see beyond that line where sea and sky seem to meet," said the mother, "but the great world stretches on. If we could go to that point, again we should find the circling sky overhead, and should see more and more of the varied world all round us, and another line where the earth and the sky meetanother horizon as it is called. You must be able to imagine this extent of world that you cannot see. You must be able to think of the world we live in, not as if it were the small space under your eyes, but a great globe of varied surface of sea and land, rolling round the sun in space, carrying with it the light blue veil of air that clings to it all round on every side, so that go where you will to any part of it, you see, if you look up, this transparent blue air, through which comes to you the light of sun, and moon, and stars."
when the world had seemed to them like a flat plain, The children sat side by side and thought of the time with the blue sky for its roof. But now as they looked over the wide view and the distant sea, they fancied that they were conscious of the grand movement of the great globe which carried them round with it and when the white clouds sailed over the mountain and hid the sun, they said "a thick white spot has come in the clear, blue veil."
wide view. The sky remained blue over their heads, As they looked, a change came over one part of their