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that first Sunday morning at Dovercourt-Rebecca met me at the garden-gate. She seemed to have been watching for me.
“Is anything the matter?" I asked, for in the dim light I could read signs of agitation in her expressive face.
“Well, no!” she answered, hesitatingly; "there's nothing the matter. Nothing has happened while you have been out, only Miss Phæbe's been in hysterics again, and Sarah has had a handful with her. But the missis wants you ; she has asked for you I don't know how many times."
“Ill go to her at once, Rebecca-how is she?”
“Very, very middling, Master Hugh! Her sleep seems to have tired rather than refreshed her. I have given her some wine, but I couldn't get her to eat a morsel. She regularly scared me awhile since; she said, “No, no, lassie! I'll eat na mair till I sit doun t’ marriage-sooper o' t' Lamb.' I thought she was wandering-maybe she was—but she wouldn't eat for all my coaxing and scolding. I'm afraid, Mr. Hugh, she couldn't! She looks almost like master!”
I hastened to the room where Margery lay, passing the closed door of that other room, where lay all that was mortal of Martin Wray. The moment I saw Margery I knew that her days, if not her hours on earth were numbered.
“I'm ganging to Martin,” she said, feebly, as I sat down by her and took her withered hand in mine. It was very cold-cold, as if all natural warmth had departed out of it-yet the evening was mild. There was a good fire burning in the grate, and Rebecca had wrapped a thick shawl round her, and multiplied the bedclothes to an almost absurd extent. I began to chafe the cold, nerveless fingers, but she said, “Dinna, dinna! It fashes me, an' it's nae gude, laddie. I was speering for ye that I might spake till ye abune ť' lassie Phæbe. You'll fend for her, and tak' tent for her, wull ye not, Hugh ?”
“Surely I will, grandmother. Do you think I can ever forget the days of Eaglesmere?”
“Eaglesmere !--my ain auld hame! Wad to God I could see t* mountains ance mair! Niver moind, niver moind! Afore to. morrow morn' I'll see t gowden hills o' heaven; they'll be bonnier far na bonnie Eaglesmere, I ken weel. An' Hugh, he ance promised me that I suld gae back there, an' lie wi' my ain kin, an' my auncient freends i' t' auld kirkyard on t' hillside ; but noo I dinna care to gang awa’ fra' Dovercourt. It wud be a sair lang travail to carry my auld lanes sae far, an' sure t' Lord 'll keep my doost all safe onywhar'. A' t' earth is His, an' I maun be i' His keepin', whariver they lay t' clods upon me. An' I maun rest wi' my mon, an' naewhere else, moind that, Hugh! Didna I say till him when we cam' south, “Wheether thou gangest I wull gang, an' wbar' thou deest I wull dee, an' thar' wull I be buried'? An'noo I'll be trew to my word, as trew as I've bin to t' troth plight Igied him five an' feefty years agone."
“Do not be anxious for a moment, dear grandmother; I'll take care of all that when it pleases God to call you home; you shall lie with grandfather. You are sorely shaken now; perhaps you will feel better in a day or two."
“Nae, nae, my laddie, niver o' this warld. I'm ganging to Jartin, I tell
you; I maun gang. Oh, chiel, ye dinna ken how when ane has been wed fu' feefty years the twa lives grow inta ane. It's joost that a pairt o' mysel' ha' gaun awa, gaun on before. Gin ye pluck t' heart oot o' ane flower or t’ feebres oot o' ane leaf it maun dee. I'm ganging to my ain auld mon; God is sae guid He'll na’ let me bide my lane wi’oot him ; I've gotten my ca'. An' ye'll tak? tent for Phæbe, our Ailie's ane bairn?”
“I will, indeed I will; she shall be to me as a sister."
“ That was but childish play; I will be as a brother to Phæbe, neither more nor less I promise.”
“T' Lord be thanked. She'll ha' some gear, I ken na' how much ; she maun wark an' get siller o'her ain; she's nae a leddy. Puir li'le Phæbe! I wonder wull Ailie cam speering to me abune her bairn when I meet her presently i' t' kingdom. A' my bairns are i' t' kingdom, an' my mon too. This warld has growed sae empty, sae empty, and heaven is sae fu'. An'ť Lord Himsel' is there, an' I'll see His face, and I'll sin na mair. Eh! I've sinned aft wi' my fulish tongue, but t' Lord kenned my heart; that luved a'ways, indeed it did, laddie. Noo, I'll sing evermore t' praises o' t' Lord; it will be grander na' t' anthems i' t' kirk, I trow, ť hallelujahs o' t' saints."
I sat by her for some time while she dozed, and Rebecca came in with a candle, which, however, she extinguished at Margery's desire. She liked the firelight best, she said, and she wanted to sleep again. Rebecca gave her a little wine; she swallowed a drop or two, not
Then she said drowzily, “Ye've bin a gude lassie to me an' to t measter. 'Becca, t' Lord wull reward ye. I've aft vexed an' frebbed ye in my cross-grained ways, I ken; but ye'll forgie me when I'm gane ; ye'll forgie an' forget. And noo, gude neet, gude neet ; I'm sair weary. Kiss me, Hugh; ye've bin a gude laddie, an' t' Lord bless an' keep ye, an' gie ye a gude inheritance. Gude neet, laddie."
I sat still a long time by the fire, thinking of the old days in Cumberland, and listening dreamily to the low thunder on the dis
tant shore; and into my mind came unbidden the words of the sainted singer
“ 'Tis sweet as year by year we lose
Friends out of sight, in faith to muse
How grows in Paradise our store." The poet whose memory we all reverence, and the uneducated old Border woman had both grasped the same truth-as earth grew empty, heaven became fuller, till the one was felt to be a mere inn, a place of sojourning for awhile; and the other, home! Very quietly I replenished the fire once or twice, and every now and then I stole to the bedside and listened to the faint, quiet breathing. Surely that long, calm sleep would refresh her; surely she was mistaken; she would “go home” soon, but not so very soon, not, as she had said, before to-morrow morn! Ah! surely not. And all was still as death ; there was no sound in the house; the wind had allen, and only at intervals came a low sough around the ancient walls ; the great sea-chime went on, and in the silent room Martin's great watch ticked loudly.
I think I dozed myself for a few minutes; the church clock striking nine awoke me, and I started and shivered. The fire was still at its best, but the room had become suddenly chilly; perhaps the night had grown colder. I stood up and listened. How very still it was! The watch ticked louder than ever, that was all. Again I shivered, and again I went softly towards the bed, and—all was still there. The faint, weary breathing had ceased; the flickering firelight shone upon no living face; the cold hand dropped when I lifted it gently from the counterpane. Margery was gone to Martin.
(To be continued.)
THE STORY OF BUNHILL FIELDS.
BY J. EWING RITCHIE. That a man should have an opinion of his own on religious matters, that he should not be what his neighbours are, has in all ages and by all people been held to be most monstrous and absurd. No doubt such conduct is very annoying. The fashion of the world has been very simple. The State rules you, and erects for your special edification the parochial church, in which in Turkey is preached Mohammedanism, in Roman Catholic countries Popery, and in ours the Athanasian Creed. The State gains much by this arrangement. In the first place it helps to keep the people quiet, and in the second place it provides the State with a clerical bulwark, against which for ages the tide of innovation and progress dashed, and dashed in vain. Not to conform to the Established Church was flying in the face of the civil power. Nonconformists have ever been regarded with aversion. We have an amusing illustration of this in the case of a daily paper, which has devoted several articles to sketches of Dissenting congregations. The articles are entitled “ Unorthodox London.” To be unorthodox is to be an object of suspicion, at least to those who go to church because their fathers did. Take another illustration. A book has been lately published called “ Ecclesia," containing essays by several leading Dissenting ministers. It is curious to read the criticisms of the literary journals. Here, they say, with surprise, is a book written by Dissenters, catholic in tone, scholarly in argument and arrangement, polished and refined in language; and this wonder is expressed in the teeth of the fact that the greatest names in our literature are those of Dissenters, and that at this very moment the great organ of the ecclesiastical party in this country is edited by an ex-Dissenter, a gentleman whose dictionaries are in every study-nay, in every school-room in the land.
In times not so very remote Nonconformists had to submit to cruel penalties. Mr. Jeremy White is said to have collected a list of seventy thousand persons who had suffered for Dissent between the Restoration and the Revolution, of whom no less than five thousand died in prison. It is stated also that within three years property was wrung from them to the amount of three millions sterling. Dr. Burnet tells us : “When a Session of Parliament came, and the King wanted money, then a severe law against the Dissenters was offered to the angry men of the Church party as the price of it, and this seldom failed to have its effect; so that they were like the jewels of the crown-pawned when the King needed money, and redeemed at the next prorogation." What were their crimes? That they would not admit the King's supremacy in matters of religion ; that they could not declare their unfeigned assent and consent to all ard everything contained in the Book of Common Prayer; that, deeming it their duty to preach the Gospel, they did so. What manner of men were they? If we are to judge them by what they have left behind-the salt of the earth. “I used to think it very strange,” wrote Edmund Calamy, who as a boy was often sent with presents of money to poor ministers in prison, “that such men as prayed very heartily for the King and Government, and gave their neighbours no disturbance, could not be suffered to live in quiet. Often was I at their most private meetings for worship, and never did I hear them inveigh against those in power, though they were commonly run down as enemies of royalty.” Unwittingly these men made England the free land she has since become. Their task was an arduous one.
On the one side were the King, who was the pensioned tool of France, the High Church bishops, the gay and graceless courtiers, under whom the nation was rapidly descending to the lowest depths of degradation; and on the other side Whig philosophers and Nonconformist divines. When the Conventicle Act was passed, laymen as well as pastors suffered, and out of this suffering grew first religious toleration, and then the great truth that man is alone responsible to his Maker for his religious belief. In Bunhill Fields you tread the dust and ashes of these men. In all London there is not a spot richer in sublime associations or precious memories.
The history of Bunhill Fields is soon told. Till Thomas Falconer, Mayor of London in the third year of Henry V.'s reign, broke a hole in the City wall, where now we have Moorgate, it was a morass, then an exercise ground for archers, then a burying-place. In Strype's Stow we read that in 1539 more than a thousand cartloads of human remains were removed there from the charnels of St. Paul's. When the plague broke out it was consecrated as a common cemetery for the relief of the overpopulated parochial burying grounds. In 1852, when it was closed by order of the Common Council, more than 120,000 corpses had been interred in it during the preceding 190 years, enlargements having been made from time to time by direction of the Court of Common Council. In 1865 there was a danger that the property would pass into the hands of the Ecclesiastial Commissioners of England and Wales. Happily leading men in the City of London and in its Corporation averted so dire a calamity. The place is now set apart for ever for the use of the public. Shrubs have been planted, old tombs have been repaired, seats have been erected, new pavement has been put down. The Corporation of London will henceforth guard this “ Campo Santo,” as Southey wrote, “ of Dissent.”
In writing of those buried there let us honour the victims of Black Bartholomew first. One of the most celebrated of them was Thomas Doolittle, till 1662 rector of St. Alphage, London Wall. His body was buried in Bunhill Fields, but the precise spot is not known. A Latin inscription marks the grave of William Jenkyn, minister of the Gospel, who, during the heavy storms of the Church, was imprisoned in Newgate, and died there a martyr in the seventysecond year of his age, and the thirty-second of his ministry, in 1684. He was found guilty of the atrocious crime of spending a day in prayer with several friends at a house in Moorfields. Ladies in those days wore ridiculously long trains, and it was one of these