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RECOLLECTIONS OF THE FAIREST HOURS TO CHEER THE LATEST HOURS OF LIFE.
FROM JEAN PAUL RICHTER.
"Give me a great thought," said Herder, in his sickness, to his son, " that I may refresh myself."
Gottreich Hartmann lived with his father, an aged clergyman, in the little village of: Heim. Happy were the declining years of the parson; for, when his strength failed, his son stepped into his place and fulfilled his duties; and truly edifying were the homilies of the young preacher to the heart of the old man.
Young Gottreich had a poetic soul; and the bloom of his youthful promise was not, like that of too many young poets, wasted and trampled under foot in his manhood, but crowned with sweet fruit. His father had felt the inspiration of poetry in his youth, but had not a favorable occasion for unfolding his powers, since, in his early days, fathers thought their sons might find far better pasturage in the humble vale Bnd dull flat of the reading-desk and professor's chair, than on the peaks of Parnassus. But the soul of poetry, thus repressed, only worked the more powerfully within, mingled itself with all his thoughts and deeds, and colored all his life. Beauteous was the situation of the old man; every thing good was always about him; the twin sisters, Religion and Poetry, made their dwelling with him.
So lived the father and son together: and in addition to filial and parental love, a close and peculiar friendship grew between them. The father was refreshed to see not only the soul of his youthful poetry new-glowing in his son, but also the soul of his faith. Alas! it has been the case that many a pious father, in receiving his son from the university, has found in his house a young antichrist, prepared to despise and destroy the faith held dear so long at the old man's heart. It was not so with Gottreich: though, like all others, he had run his short random course of freethinking in the high school, he came home with the faith of his fathers warm in his bosom. So the old clergyman found his own Christian heart freshly beating in the breast ofj his son, justifying the convictions of a long life and the love of a father.
If it he painful to differ in thought from one we love in our heart, to turn away the!J head from one to whom the heart is ever inclined; it is doubly sweet at once to lovej and believe in fellowship with one in whom i our better self is sustained and perpetuated jj with youthful energy. So life is like a fair jj
starry night, where no star sets, but one arises to shine in its place.
Gottreich had a paradise about him, in which he held the post of gardener for his father, enjoying all its fruits the more he labored for the old man's gratification. Every Sabbath brought him a new delight, in a new homily prepared chiefly for the purpose of gladdening his father's heart . He spent upon his homilies so much poetic beauty and warm-glowing power of language, that. he seemed to strive to delight the still poetic mind of his father almost more than to enlighten and edify his congregation. At the same time the young priest knew very well, that higher presumptions on the part of the preacher in favor of the understanding and sympathy of the people, are far better than the bald iteration of common-places, so prevalent in the pulpit; for men only learn to climb by attempting something they have not yet climbed.
The moistened eye of the old priest—the hands, now and then, during the sermon, folded in silent prayer, made for the young preacher every Sunday, an Ascension festival; and, in the quiet vicarage, brooded joys little known to the rude world. Those who imagine the preparation and delivery of a course of homilies throughout the year, to be a dull, dry task, should have heard the father and son speaking of the last, or consulting about the next discourse for the little congregation at Heim.
And now to this blessed little society was added a new and worthy member. This was Justa, a young maiden of considerable wealth, an orphan, who hr.d left a neighboring town, to find repose and happiness in the little village where Gottreich and his father lived:—
"Love, to make poor mortals blest,
Two may be happy together, but three maybe still happier; for the two may talk and expatiate of all the excellencies of the third; and so the harmonic triad of friendship will admit of variations never ceasing— never tiring. This happy third person was found in the spirited young maiden, Justa r for after she had seen the enthusiastic face of the young poet and preacher, and had heard some four or five of his Lent homilies, she gave him her heart; and only reserved her hand till the disturbances of the country (for it was the time of the war with the French,) should subside into peace.
I wish it were in the power of my hand to paint the beauty of that continual May-day 285
No. 9. Recollections to cheer the Latest Hours of Life.
life that bloomed all about the lowly church tower at Heini, under the fostering hand of the fair Jusla. Piety and sacred beauty were here sweetly wedded together, as the church cast its holy shadow over the little garden, where the happy three would meet in the evening, while the sky, like the dome of a temple hung over them. It is pleasant to think that, in many a lowly village and unheard-of dwelling, some such isolated Eden in the world is now unfolding itself,1 and it may be so; though none but poets know it; for the gentle flowers of true joy ever delight to hide themselves in thickest foliage. Gottreich lived so blissfully in his hidden paradise, that he feared to speak of his joys except in the thanksgivings that filled up the greater part of his prayers.
Nothing reminds a thoughtful youth so much of the last hour of life as the fairest and most intensely joyful hour of life; for those who are full of thoughts and feelings of love and joy, must also think much of death. So, in the fresh delight of life's Maymorning, Gottreich could not avoid thinking, that his morning star must one day shine as his evening star. Said he to himself, "Now is all clear and brilliant before me—the beauty and happiness of life; the splendor of the universe; the glory of the Creator; the worth and the power of the human heart; the constellations of eternal truths; the lustrous heaven of ideas;—I see and feel all clearly, surely, warmly; but as after the day comes the night, so, when I lie in the fading hour of life, all these things may be overShadowed in the twilight, and hardly recognized even by the eyes of faith and love: for when we draw near to Heaven, Death holds the inverted telescope to the weary eye, and nothing is seen through it but a drenr void space, stretching far away between us and all we love. But is this mere optical deception to be taken for the truth? Do not now my youthful powers, in their joyous unfolding, seize the truth better and surer than I can when all around seems fading to the fa-1 ding eye, and weary heart of old age? I know very well, that is the truth which I see and feel now. Let me mark it well, and remember it; that the light of the morning may have a fair reflection in the eventide." So he occupied the fair May-morning in recording his glowing feelings in glowing words, under the title,—" Recollections of the Fairest Hours to cheer the Latest Hours of Life."
So the happy triad of love continued for a while, till the war broke out; and its first thunders so roused the heart of Gottreich. from happy dreams, that he became a transformed man. The same fire of enthusiasm j
that had made him a poet, now made him a soldier; but now, no longer contented to play with its own beauty, would seize some certain object, and work for some certain purpose. The young priest scarcely dared to breathe his wishes to his father, but intrusted the secret intention with Justa, who demurred on account of the old man's feelings. But the old clergyman, mastered by the same patriotic ardor that had seized his son, blessed him for his holy purpose, and cheerfully bade him go and fight the battles of his country. "I," said he, "will see to the homilies, till Heaven shall restore peace to our wounded land."
So Gottreich went to his exercise as a common soldier; and, whenever he had opportunity, used his powers as a preacher, to sustain the courage of his comrades. He closed his campaign, not without considerable active service, though, somewhat to his disappointment, without a wound. And now, as peace again brooded over the rescued country, Gottreich travelled homewards through towns and villages full of festivity, rejoicing in all he saw around him, but knowing that few were so happy as himself. As he pursued his way, he delighted himself with the thought, that at once he would take the burden of his duties from his father's mind, and the hand of Justa to make it light upon his own. As he drew nigh his native place, and saw the hills that ro?e a little beyond Heim, he could not avoid musing over his little manuel of sweet "Recollections;" and devised some new-glowing chapters on the reunion of friends. A gentle thunder-storm gathered over his head, and large drops fell to refresh the thirsty ground; and the wellknown peasantry, as he passed by, rejoiced at once in the welcome shower, and his returning. And now the little tower of Heim seemed to grow up out of the earth as he approached; and, as he stepped down into the bosom of the vale, the parsonage greeted his view, and all its windows shone in the evening glow. At each he looked for the expectant Justa; but all was still about the house. As he entered and found the lower rooms empty, a slight noise directed his attention to his father's chamber; and he entered softly. The apartment was filled with the splendor of the evening sky. There kneeled Justa, by the bed of his father, who sat looking into the heavens, while his pale, wasted countenance gleamed strangely in the rosy light.
Gottreich fell upon the old man's bosom, who stretched towards him his withered yellow hand, and said, "You have come just in time, my son."
Justa related in a few words, how the fatlier had over-wrought himself in attention to his duties, and had been now, for some days, half sunk in lethargy; seeming to take no more interest in all that had once been dearest to him. As she spoke, the old man heard not, but continued gazing upon the sun, setting now behind clouds of crimson and gold. Suddenly the heavens were overclouded; a dead calm lasted a few minutes; then fell a heavy shower of rain; the lightning streamed through the chamber, and the thunder rolled among the hills. It seemed that the disturbance had aroused the dying man from his stupor; "I hear," said he,"the rain again; speak, children; for I must soon go." The heavens discharged their fulness, and all life throughout the vale seemed refreshed by the shower, as the sun broke forth again, and changed the cloud-wrecks of the storm, into shapes and hues of wond'rous beauty. "See," said the enlivened old man, pointing to the sky,—"see the glorious work of God! And now, my son, tell me, for my last comfort here, something of the goodness and loveliness of the Almighty One, as you told us in your homilies in the spring."
Gottreich wept as he thought that the little manuel drawn up for his own use—the "Recollections of the Fairest Hours to cheer the Latest Hours of Life"—must be first read at his father's death-bed. When he mentioned them, the old man said, "Hasten and bring them." And so, with trembling voice, Gottreich began:—
"Oh think, in the darksome hour, how the glory of heaven and earth once filled your bosom !—how you gazed by day into one infinitude of beauty, and by night into another! Put away the unmeaning notion of void space, and surround yourself again, as a middle point, with the fulness and glory of innumerable suns and worlds, all full of life and love —splendor with splendor, grandenr with grandeur mingling. Soar, spirit, ages after ages, from world to world,—you will ever be in the bosom of the infinite fulness, in no peril of falling into a dread void; for empty space is only between the worlds, and not around them all. Oh think, in the darksome hour, on the time when your heart burst forth in rapturous prayer to God!—on the day when the thought of the infinite, the eternal, opened in your mind."
Here the old man folded his hands in silent prayer.
"Have you not known and felt present the Being, whose infinitude is not only of power and wisdom, but of love? Remember now the sweet hours of childhood, when the deep blue sky of day and the deep blue sky of night opened upon you like the soft kind
eyes of a preserving angel over you. And think how a thousand gentle reflections of the eternal goodness, from heart to heart, from eye to eye, of mankind, have played around you, as the one light plays from sun to sun, from world to world, through all the universe.
"Oh think, in the darksome hour, how, in the springtide, the grave only seemed the horizon of a new world, and how, even in the ful ness of life, you could think of better things after death. Think that your life is ever surrounded with the universal life in which birth and death are only the light, uppermost billows of an unfathomable ocean. And can you forget, in the darksome hour, father, how great and good men have lived and died, whose path you are now following 1 See the great spirits of the human race who stand on their mountain-towers, with the storms of life about and below, but never above them. Recall to mind the enthroned succession of sages and poets, who have illumined and inspired people after people, through so many ages."
"Speak of our Redeemer," said the father.
"Yes; think, in the darksome hour, of Jesus Christ. Life is holy, and death is holy; for he has shared both with us. May he look upon you, in this last darksome hour, and show you His and your Father!"
A gentle burst of thunder rolled among the clouds awhile, and then the sun looked out again in mild beauty.
"And think, father, how the heart can love, and how many millions of souls may live in love, nourished and supported by one heart-spring, as the oak for many centuries, out of one root, draws life-sap for the glories of five hundred spring-tides."
"Do you mean me V asked the father.
"I am thinking of my mother, too," said the son; and Justa melted in tears as she saw that thoughts of love could so overcome the bitterness of death; while the old man, musing on his long-deceased wife, mur-. mured softly, " Meet again!"
Suddenly, the clouds were arranged in two dark mountain-peaks, between which the sun looked out with a kind farewell glance upon the earth.
"What a glorious countenance!" said the dying man.
"It is the setting sun, father," said Gottreich.
"Yes, I see that face again; and now"— said the father, thinking all the while of his departed wife.
Gottreich felt unable to continue his " Recollections," and go on to describe the joys of reunion upon earth, which he had penned in the morning; for how could he speak of earthly happiness to one who, even now, was gazing into a higher life?
"Father!" he exclaimed, as he marked the fixing gaze of the dying man, "how are yon now V
"Yes, [ am thinking so and so," the old man kept murmuring, as he imagined he still heard his son speakmg. "Death is sweet, it is lovely to depart in Christ." Still he seemed drinking in the words of his son, and enriching his departing soul with all the joys of his past life, as from time to time he whispered, with failing breath, "All good!" till the brightness of all those views of his life was lost, not in darkness, but in light, as in his soul arose the sun—God.
As the sun sank down, the father raised himself from his pillow, expanded his arms, and said,—"There are three beautiful rainbows over the setting sun,—I must go." Then he fell back, and expired.
Whatever living men may say of death, as a sleep, or annihilation, (both words without meaning1,) those who have watched by the dying and heard their last breathing, know that the thoughts of' the last hour are rather of rising" and going hence.
"He is gone!" said Gottreich, weeping, to Justa, who wept over the pale form,— "he is gone, full of holy joys, to his God. Let us not weep. The sun has set and risen at once; and he knows now, that the same light makes glorious the evening and the morning."
The following short and beautiful quotation is from the pages ot the elegant and benevolent Makenzie. Speaking of those who profess a disbelief in religion, he expressed himself in the following heart touching manner:
"He who would undermine those foundations upon which our future hope is reared, or seek to beat down that column which supports the feebleness of humanity: let him but think a moment, and his heart will arrest the cruelty of his purpose. Would he pluck its little treasure from the bosom of poverty 1 Would he wrest from age its crutch l from the eye of affliction the only solace of its woe? The way we tread is rugged, at best; we tread it, however, lighter, by the prospect of the country to which we trust it will lead. Tell us not it will end in the gulf of eternal dissolution, or break off in some world, which fancy may fill up as she pleases, but reason is unable to delineate; quench not the beam, which, amidst the night of the evil world, has cheered the despondency of ill-requited worth, and illumined the darkness of suffering virtue,
CHRIST, THE PHYSICIAN.
BY HISS H. r. GOULD.
"Now when the san was setting;, all they that had any sick with divers diseases, brought them unto him. Luke Iv. 40."
The hills of Judea with sunset are bright,
Their fountain-streams flashing like gold, in its light;
The flower in the valley is closing its eye,
The shadows are lengthened and dwindling to die.
While over the lake comes the bland summer air,
The scene is all peaceful, in beauty and love,
But why, at this hour, comes yon impotent throng,
The palsied, the crippled, the deaf, and the blind,
And lo! the Physician! benign doth he stand
Now, o'er the wan cheek see the health-roses come!
But who is this mighty Physician, so sure
At once every evil to reach and to cure?
From what secret source are his miracles brought?
In whose holy name are his miracles wrought?
O, Christ is the healer! the balm he bestows,
Yet not for this only doth Jesus appear;
And down through all ages these balm drops shall fall,
He would little children should hasten to him,
At length, from Mount Zion will Jesus look down,
A writer who enjoyed much celebrity in the beginning of rthe seventeenth century, was Owen Feltham. His book, called " Resolves," passed through a dozen editions in as many years. His style is highly figurative and sententious, and has the rare merit of inducing one to think as well as read. Some of his chapters are excellent readings for a Sunday morning; for example the following.
[Ed. S. C. Library.]
THE WORSHIP OF ADMIRATION.
Whatsoever is rare and passionate, carries the soul to the thought of eternity, and contemplation gives it some glimpses of more absolute perfection, than here it is capable of. When I see the royalty of a state-show at some unwonted solemnity, my thoughts present me something more royal than this. When I see the most enchanting beauties that earth can show me, I yet think there is something far more glorious; methinks I see a kind of higher perfection peeping through the frailty of a face. When I hear the ravishing strains of a sweet-tuned voice, married to the warbles of the artful instrument, I apprehend by this a higher diapason, and do almost believe I hear a little deity whispering through the pory substance of the tongue. But this I can but grope after; I can neither find nor say what it is. When 1 read a rarely sententious man, I admire him to my own impatiency. I cannot read some parts of Seneca, above two leaves together. He raises my soul to a contemplation, which sets me a thinking on more than I can imagine. So I am forced to cast him by and subside to an admiration. Such effects work poetry, when it looks to towering virtues. It gives up a man to raptures, and irradiates the soul with such high apprehensions, that all the glories which this world hath, hereby appear contemptible; of which the soft-souled Ovid gives a touch, when he complains the want.
"That sacred vigor, which had wont alone
But this is when these excellencies incline to gravity and seriousness. For otherwise light airs turn us into sprightful actions, which breathe away in a loose laughter, not leaving half that impression behind them which serious considerations do; as if mirth were the excellency for the body, and meditation for the soul; as if one were for the contentment of this life, and the other eyeing to that of the life to come. All endeavors aspire to eminency; all eminencies do beget an admiration; and this makes me believe, that contemplative admiration is a large part
of the Worship of the Deity. It is an adoration purely of the spirit, a more sublime bowing of the soul to the Godhead. And this is it which that Homer of philosophers avowed could bring a man to perfect happiness, if to his contemplation he joined a constant imitation of God, in justice, wisdom, and holiness. Nothing can carry us so near to God and heaven as this. The mind can walk beyond the sight of the eye, and, though in a cloud, can lift us into heaven while we live. Mediitation is the soul's perspective glass, wherej by, in her long remove, she discerneth God, as if he were near at hand. I persuade no man to make it his whole life's business. We I have bodies as well as souls. And even this world, while we are in it, ought somewhat to be cared for. As those states are likely to flourish, where execution follows sound advisements, so is man, when contemplation is seconded by action. Contemplation generates; action propagates. Without the first the latter is defective. Without the last, the first is but abortive and embryous. Saint Bernard compares contemplation to Rachel, which was the more fair; but action to Leah, which was the more fruitful. I will neither always be busy and doing, nor ever shut up in nothing but thoughts. Yet, that which some would call idleness, I will call the sweetest part of my life, and that is my thinking. Surely God made so many varieties in his creatures as well for the inward soul as outward senses; though he made them primarily for his own free will and glory. He was a Monk of an honester age, that, being asked how he could endure that life without the pleasure of books, answered, the nature of the creatures was his library, wherein, when he pleased, he could muse upon God's deep oracles.
ON MORNING PRAYER.
There is no doubt but prayer is needful daily, ever profitable, and at all times commendable. Ifitbefor ourselves alone, it is necessary; and it is charitable when it is for others. At night it is our covering; in the morning it is our armor. So at all times it defends us from the malice of Satan, our own subordinations and betrayings, the unequal weather that the world assaults us with, and preserves us in the favor and esteem of Heaven. We are dependents upon the court while we are but petitioners there; so till we be denied and dismissed we have the protection thereof, which certainly is a privilege that a stranger cannot claim.
And albeit prayer should be the key of the day, and the lock of the night, yet I hold it, of the two, more needful in the morning, than when in the evening we commit ourselves to