GEMS GATHERED IN HASTE: A New Year's Gift for Sunday Schools
Dedicated, As a labor of love, To four Sunday Schools, Each of which will know that it is one of the four By the initials of Their friend, T.B.F.
A BRIGHT THOUGHT SPEEDILY EXECUTED.
It is an excellent rule, no doubt, children, not to be in a hurry; and the proverbs, "Take time by the forelock" and "The more haste the worse speed," are wise proverbs, worth keeping. But occasions occur, once in a while, when working hastily is a great deal better than not working at all, and may be working to some purpose too. I remember a case of this kind. In a certain town, on the forenoon of July 3, 183-, when "Floral Processions" were novel affairs, a company of ladies and gentlemen were assembled in a barn-chamber, finishing off and packing up a lot of moss baskets, and arranging bunches of flowers to be sent to Boston, to the Warren-street Chapel, by the mail coach at 3 o'clock, P.M. It was about 10 o'clock when one of the party,—suppose we call him, for convenience just now, Mr. Perseverance,—who had been looking out of the window, down upon a very little garden, suddenly turned round, and exclaimed that something might be made prettier than any thing they had yet done. He told what it was. "It is impossible to do it now. We must wait till next year," said his friends. "Nothing like trying: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. No time like the present," replied Mr. Perseverance, a pertinacious gentleman, who wanted to "strike when the iron was hot," and carry out his notion without delay. Accordingly, he caught up two sticks, and nailed them together, so as to get the right shape. Then he went down town,—the town being small, he had not far to go,—begged at the bookstore a few "show-bills," containing the letters he needed for patterns; bought a sheet of gold paper and half an ounce of gum-arabic, twice as much of both as he really wanted; people in a hurry are not apt to calculate very nicely, or be very economical, you know. He carried his articles back to the barn, and asked a lady to try to cut out a motto he had selected, and gum it on a ribbon. "But where shall I get the ribbon?" said the lady. "Oh! find it somewhere," said Mr. Perseverance; "and be sure and have all ready when I return." There was one spot in the woods he remembered visiting months before with a boy in his neighborhood, on which grew another material, indispensable to his project. He found the lad: they jumped into a chaise; rode two or three miles to a grove; and, on searching a few moments, found what they were after,—a plant green in mid-winter as well as in summer, and prized by everybody who loves Christmas; gathered a bushel of it, more or less; and got home again before dinner. Meanwhile, the lady, with others to help her, had been busy; and all were wide awake now, entering into the spirit of the matter, thinking that the bright idea of Mr. Perseverance might possibly be accomplished in season. A splendid bunch of pure white lilies, not quite open, was fastened to the longest stick, the stems covered with wet paper or moss; then both pieces of wood were wound round with thick and rich evergreen, leaving the glorious flowers standing out gracefully, and white as the new-fallen snow. Next came the motto, in golden letters, on a broad white satin ribbon, which Mrs. Perseverance had found: it was the belt of her bridal dress, carefully preserved for several years, and now devoted to a good cause. The "emblem" was completed and packed just in time for the coach. "And what was it?" An evergreen cross, with the lilies at the centre; the ribbon hanging as a festoon from the arms, and bearing the words—
"Consider the Lilies!"
On reaching the city, it was much admired, and attracted a good many eyes in the show the next day. I believe there has hardly been a "Floral Procession" since, without a similar device; and among the banners used at the Warren-street Chapel, is a bright one of silk, which has on it the cross and the lilies finely painted.
Now, let me tell you why I have sketched this incident as an introduction to the following pages. On the 24th of December, 1850, a letter came to me from a friend, asking if I was preparing a tract, as in former days, for a New Year's Gift, or if I could help him, his brother and sister teachers, in selecting some fit and cheap book for all the two hundred children they love to meet every Sunday. At first, I only thought of answering that I was sorry to say he must look to somebody else for what was wanted. But I did not quite like to do this; and, presently remembering the achievement of Mr. Perseverance, I said to myself, if he got that cross made in a few hours, why cannot a tract be made in a few days? I consulted the printer, and he agreed to do all he could. So we went to work immediately, and here are the "Gems Gathered in Haste."
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GEMS GATHERED IN HASTE.
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To show how great evils may be prevented by a little care, and how much good a child may do, let me begin with the story of
THE LITTLE HERO OF HAARLEM.
At an early period in the history of Holland, a boy was born in Haarlem, a town remarkable for its variety of fortune in war, but happily still more so for its manufactures and inventions in peace. His father was a sluicer,—that is, one whose employment it was to open and shut the sluices, or large oak-gates, which, placed at certain regular distances, close the entrance of the canals, and secure Holland from the danger to which it seems exposed, of finding itself under water, rather than above it. When water is wanted, the sluicer raises the sluices more or less, as required, as a cook turns the cock of a fountain, and closes them again carefully at night; otherwise the water would flow into the canals, then overflow them, and inundate the whole country; so that even the little children in Holland are fully aware of the importance of a punctual discharge of the sluicer's duties. The boy was about eight years old, when, one day, he asked permission to take some cakes to a poor blind man, who lived at the other side of the dyke. His father gave him leave, but charged him not to stay too late. The child promised, and set off on his little journey. The blind man thankfully partook of his young friend's cakes; and the boy, mindful of his father's orders, did not wait, as usual, to hear one of the old man's stories; but, as soon as he had seen him eat one muffin, took leave of him to return home.
As he went along by the canals, then quite full,—for it was in October, and the autumn rains had swelled the waters,—the boy now stopped to pull the little blue flowers which his mother loved so well; now, in childish gayety, hummed some merry song. The road gradually became more solitary; and soon neither the joyous shout of the villager, returning to his cottage-home, nor the rough voice of the carter, grumbling at his lazy horses, was any longer to be heard. The little fellow now perceived that the blue of the flowers in his hand was scarcely distinguishable from the green of the surrounding herbage, and he looked up in some dismay. The night was falling; not, however, a dark winter night, but one of those beautiful, clear, moonlight nights, in which every object is perceptible, though not as distinctly as by day. The child thought of his father, of his injunction, and was preparing to quit the ravine in which he was almost buried, and to regain the beach, when suddenly a slight noise, like the trickling of water upon pebbles, attracted his attention. He was near one of the large sluices, and he now carefully examines it, and soon discovers a hole in the wood, through which the water was flowing. With the instant perception which every child in Holland would have, the boy saw that the water must soon enlarge the hole through which it was now only dropping, and that utter and general ruin would be the consequence of the inundation of the country that must follow. To see, to throw away the flowers, to climb from stone to stone till he reached the hole, and to put his finger into it, was the work of a moment; and, to his delight, he finds that he has succeeded in stopping the flow of the water.
This was all very well for a little while, and the child thought only of the success of his device. But the night was closing in, and with the night came the cold. The little boy looked around in vain. No one came. He shouted—he called loudly—no one answered. He resolved to stay there all night; but, alas! the cold was becoming every moment more biting, and the poor finger fixed in the hole began to feel benumbed, and the numbness soon extended to the hand, and thence throughout the whole arm. The pain became still greater, still harder to bear; but still the boy moved not. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he thought of his father, of his mother, of his little bed, where he might now be sleeping so soundly; but still the little fellow stirred not, for he knew that did he remove the small slender finger which he had opposed to the escape of the water, not only would he himself be drowned, but his father, his brothers, his neighbors—nay, the whole village. We know not what faltering of purpose, what momentary failures of courage, there might have been during that long and terrible night; but certain it is, that, at day-break, he was found in the same painful position by a clergyman returning from attendance on a death-bed, who, as he advanced, thought he heard groans, and, bending over the dyke, discovered a child seated on a stone, writhing from pain, and with pale face and tearful eyes.
"Boy," he exclaimed, "what are you doing there?"
"I am hindering the water from running out," was the answer, in perfect simplicity, of the child, who, during the whole night, had been evincing such heroic fortitude and undaunted courage.
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I copy these verses for two reasons. They teach trust in God; and they were written by a gentleman who, I am sure, remembers with pleasure when he was a scholar in the Sunday School; the request of whose superintendents induced me to make this miniature book.
STORM AT SEA.
We were crowded in the cabin; Not a soul would dare to sleep: It was midnight on the waters, And a storm was on the deep.
'Tis a fearful thing, in winter To be shattered in the blast, And to hear the rattling trumpet Thunder, "Cut away the mast!"
So we shuddered there in silence; For the stoutest held his breath, While the hungry sea was roaring, And the breakers talked with Death.
As thus we sat in darkness, Each one busy in his prayers, "We are lost!" the captain shouted, As he staggered down the stairs.
But his little daughter whispered, As she took his icy hand, "Isn't God upon the ocean Just the same as on the land?"
Then we kissed the little maiden, And we spoke in better cheer, And we anchored safe in harbor When the morn was shining clear.
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Here are two anecdotes: one for boys, the other for girls. When you read the first, remember that all good deeds are not published, and cherish always the belief that many kind acts are done which are never put in print to be read by everybody.
This word seldom begins an article in a newspaper, but "cruelty" or "murder" more often instead. It is a pleasure to record an act of kindness; painful that we have not frequent opportunities. Yet such an act made our heart glad, filled it with a new love for our kind, only a day or two since. A school-girl, about ten years of age, was passing, with a smaller school-girl in her arms, whom she carried with much difficulty; for the weather was sultry. Other children were in company, with books in their hands. The whole party stopped to rest under the shade of a tree. Just then, a gentleman observed the group. His attention was particularly attracted by the child, still supported by the arm of her friend. "What's the matter, my little Miss?" he inquired, in his kind, soft tone. "She's sick, sir," replied the friend. "And are you taking her home?" "I'm trying, sir." "How far off does she live?" "Down by the Long Bridge." "A mile or more! and you would carry her through the hot sun! no shade on the way either!" "I must try, sir," answered the school-girl. "No, you must not," said the kind gentleman, "it would kill both of you." A carriage passed at this moment. A word and a waving arm caused it to draw up to the pavement. All the party entered it, and all right merry, except the sick one; but even she looked up with a faint smile, fixing her large, tender eyes on the face of the stranger. The driver had been instructed fully as to his destination, had been paid too, and now drove away. "Poor little girl!" said the gentleman to himself, in a low voice. "Good bye, sir!" said all the children, in a high tone.
A BRAVE BOY.
An interesting little boy, who could not swim, whilst skating on our river on New Year's Day, ran into a large air-hole. He kept himself for a time above water: the little boys, all gathered round the opening, tried to hand him poles; but the ice continued breaking, and he was still floating out of reach. Despair at last seized his heart, and was visible in every face around. At this moment, when, exhausted, the poor little fellow was about to sink, a brave and generous-hearted boy exclaimed, "I cannot stand it, boys!" He wheeled round, made a run, and dashed in at the risk of his own life, and seized the little boy and swam to the edge of the ice with him: after breaking his way to the more solid ice, he succeeded in handing him out to his companions, who then assisted him out. In Rome, this act of heroism would have insured this brave youth a civic crown. His name is Albert Hershbergar.
—Charleston (Va.) Republican.
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I know a little girl who has committed this to memory. Let all little girls and boys who read it do the same, and they will have music worth listening to in their own hearts.
LITTLE CHILDREN, LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
A little girl, with a happy look, Sat slowly reading a ponderous book, All bound with velvet and edged with gold, And its weight was more than the child could hold; Yet dearly she loved to ponder it o'er, And every day she prized it more; For it said, and she looked at her smiling mother,— It said, "Little children, love one another."
She thought it was beautiful in the book, And the lesson home to her heart she took; She walked on her way with a trusting grace, And a dove-like look in her meek young face; Which said, just as plain as words could say, "The Holy Bible I must obey: So, mamma, I'll be kind to my darling brother; For 'little children must love each other.'
I'm sorry he's naughty, and will not play; But I'll love him still, for I think the way To make him gentle and kind to me Will be better shown if I let him see I strive to do what I think is right; And thus, when I kneel in prayer to-night, I will clasp my hands around my brother, And say, 'Little children, love one another.'"
The little girl did as her Bible taught, And pleasant indeed was the change it wrought; For the boy looked up in glad surprise, To meet the light of her loving eyes: His heart was full,—he could not speak; But he pressed a kiss on his sister's cheek; And God looked down on that happy mother Whose "little children loved each other."
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The two next pieces ought to go together. They resemble each other, not only in their subjects, but in their beauty also. I hardly know which is the most interesting.
THE SISTER'S GRAVE.
At Smyrna, the burial-ground of the Americans, like that of the Moslems, is removed a short distance from the town, is sprinkled with green trees, and is a favorite resort not only with the bereaved, but with those whose feelings are not thus darkly overcast. I met there one morning a little girl with a half-playful countenance, busy blue eye, and sunny locks, bearing in one hand a small cup of china, and in the other a wreath of fresh flowers. Feeling a very natural curiosity to know what she could do with these bright things, in a place that seemed to partake so much of sadness, I watched her light motions. Reaching a retired grave, covered with a plain marble slab, she emptied the seed, which it appeared the cup contained, into the slight cavities which had been scooped out in the corners of the level tablet, and laid the wreath on its pure face. "And why," I inquired, "my sweet child, do you put the seed in those little bowls there?" "It is to bring the birds here," she replied with a half-wondering look: "they will light on this tree," pointing to the cypress above, "when they have eaten the seed, and sing." "To whom do they sing?" I asked: "to you or to each other?" "Oh! no," she quickly replied, "to my sister: she sleeps here." "But your sister is dead?" "Oh! yes, sir; but she hears the birds sing." "Well, if she does hear the birds sing, she cannot see that wreath of flowers." "But she knows I put it there; I told her, before they took her away from our house, I would come and see her every morning." "You must" I continued, "have loved that sister very much; but you will never talk with her any more, never see her again." "Yes, sir," she replied, with a brightened look, "I shall see her always in heaven." "But she has gone there already, I trust." "No, she stops under this tree till they bring me here, and then we are going to heaven together." "But she has gone already, my child: you will meet her there, I hope; but certainly she is gone, and left you to come afterward." She cast to me a look of inquiring disappointment, and the tears came to her eyes.
Oh! yes, my sweet child, be it so, That, near the cypress-tree, Thy sister sees those eyes o'erflow, And fondly waits for thee; That still she hears the young birds sing, And sees the chaplet wave, Which every morn thy light hands bring, To dress her early grave; And in a brighter, purer sphere, Beyond the sunless tomb, Those virtues that have charmed us here In fadeless life shall bloom.
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THE LITTLE FLOWER-GARDEN.
In yonder village burying-place, With briers and weeds o'ergrown, I saw a child, with beauteous face, Sit musing all alone.
Without a shoe, without a hat, Beside a new-raised mound, The little Willie pensive sat, As if to guard the ground.
I asked him why he lingered thus Within that gray old wall. "Because," said he, "it is to us The dearest place of all."
"And what," said I, "to one so young, Can make the place so dear?" "Our mother," said the lisping tongue,— They laid our mother here.
And since they made it mother's lot, We like to call it ours: We took it for our garden-spot, And planted it with flowers.
We know 'twas here that she was laid; And yet they tell us, too, She's now a happy angel made, To live where angels do.
Then she will watch us from above, And smile on us, to know That here her little children love To make sweet flowerets grow.
My sister Anna's gone to take Her supper, and will come, With quickest haste that she can make, To let me run for some.
We do not leave the spot alone, For fear the birds will spy The places where the seeds were sown, And catch them up and fly.
We love to have them come and feed, And sing and flit about; Yet not where we have dropped the seed, To find and pick it out.
But now the great round yellow sun Is going down the west; And soon the birds will every one Be home, and in the nest.
Then we to rest shall go home too; And while we're fast asleep, Amid the darkness and the dew, Perhaps the sprouts will peep.
And, when our plants have grown so high That leaves are on the stem, We'll call the pretty birdies nigh, And scatter crumbs for them.
For mother loved their songs to hear, To watch them on the wing: She'll love to know they still come near Her little ones, and sing."
"Heaven shield thee, precious child!" methought, "And sister Annie too! And may your future days be fraught With blessings ever new!"
Hanna F. Gould
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This is a true story. A little girl received it in a letter from a very dear friend before it was printed.
THE FEATHER BRUSH.
So, my dear little friend, you wish for an answer to your letter, and could not understand that the little feather brush I sent you was a reply to your loving remembrance, just as if I had written one with pen and ink. But you were a kind and loving child to transfer the gift to little Julia, in your pity for her tears. I hope it soothed her troubled heart, and dried her blue eyes; and you now shall have, instead, the story which those soft feathers were sent to tell.
One evening last summer, Miss L—— came home from one of her rides, with a large basket closely covered; and what do you think it contained? Why, a great anxious mother-hen, all tawny-colored and white, with thirteen downy little chickens, who were frightened enough, and wondering where in the wide world they were. We made a house for them in the green meadow, of a barrel turned upside down; and they all crept under their mother's wing, and went to sleep. But, lo! a great storm came in the night, such a pouring rain, such a blowing gale,—we really feared the tiny things would be drowned! But a kind neighbor put on his big coat, and went to their rescue. He put them all together in the basket again, and brought it into the kitchen, where they got thoroughly warm and dry; after which, they were taken out to the barn, where they lived a few days very comfortably. Then one of them disappeared, we never knew where; and another lamed herself in some way, and, notwithstanding all our care, she died. But the rest grew up, a healthy and obedient little family, always ready to eat, and so quick to run with their tiny feet, when any one appeared at the door, that it was very funny to see them.
Another day, Miss L—— brought home two large chickens; one of them with a long neck, and a beautiful black crest upon her head, and a dress of black feathers softer than velvet. Her we named Donna: sometimes we call her Bella Donna. The other was dressed in white feathers, some of them tipped with glossy black and brown, but many of them pure white. She was named Luca. They were shut together for a few days, until they began to feel at home; then they were set free to scratch in the barn-yard, and get acquainted with the neighbors' fowls, when we began to see how different they were in character as well as dress. Donna holds her head very high, and pays no attention to any other hens; runs away from us, when we invite her to dinner, no matter how nice it is; and never will get acquainted, all we can do. But Luca we love as we should a gentle, timid little girl. Sometimes, when we open the door, there she stands patiently waiting, and looks up at us with her bright eye so pleasantly, that we must stop, if ever so busy, and feed her. Occasionally we hear a gentle sound on the door-step, which we all know; then some one is sure to exclaim, "There's Luca," and run to get her something nice to eat. The little chickens, with Mater their mother, all come rushing, tapping, perching, chirping at the door, and tease and tap-tap and "yip-p yip-p" until we quite weary of them. If the door stands open, they fly up the steps, walk in, look round the room, and pick up any thing they can find, until we send them away. The moment their tin pan appears, they are all in a flying huddle, tumble over each other, fly to the pan, to our shoulders, or anywhere, to get the first mouthful. Old Mater is ravenous and impolite as the rest, except that she always waits for her children to get a few mouthfuls first; but not another hen or chicken must come near them. Luca, patient gentle Luca, often stands and waits modestly behind; and, if she gets nothing, makes a little mournful sound,—that is all.
Some flocks of russet, black and brown hens, crowers, and chickens, who live close by, are a great annoyance to Mater, and to all of us. They come shooting into the yard like little steam-engines, and snatch all they can of the dinner to which they were not invited; and, if driven away a dozen times, rush back, the first chance, to get and devour all they can. Why, they have been into the house, and eaten a pie which was set to cool, pecked at the apples, Pony's oats, and any thing they could find to eat! What would you have said then? Even Mater's children never did such impertinent things, hungry as they always are. One white chicken about their size, a naughty-looking little thing, with her head always down, left her own mother, and would come dashing in as if she belonged among them; but Mater and her little ones always found her out, and sent her away.
One day we thought we would name the eleven chickens, as Mater could not name them herself; and, since then, we know them each and all, and just how they behave. Annie and Mary are two sober-looking little creatures, in quakerish feathers of drab and grey. Nat is a white crower, with beautiful soft feathers, and a long graceful black tail. Louise has a shaded dress of grey and white, and is almost as modest and gentle as Luca. Hannah is a little bantam, with tufted head and large eyes, the smallest but the sprightliest of the family: she always tumbles in amongst the rest, and gets the first taste of every thing; and her mother allows her to do it. One of them, named Lise, a white one, came in the other morning, just as we had finished breakfast; and, seeing many things spread out to eat, she flew up to the back of a chair, and, perching herself there, surveyed the whole table, and was very unwilling to get down. At length, getting a little alarmed at our efforts to teach her better, she pounced directly down amidst the cups and dishes, putting her foot into a saucer of tea, and making a great commotion in her fright. Two, named George and John, are trying to learn to crow. Little Mary hears the large hens cackle, and you would laugh loud to hear her try to imitate them. They are having warm, new dresses made for them; so they let the summer ones blow about in the breeze for any little girls who want them, particularly kind and neat and useful little maidens, who love to dust their mother's books, picture frames, and flower baskets.
If I can send you another brush, my little friend, you must imagine neat little Louise, Annie and Mary, gentle Luca and handsome Donna, sending their best love and kind wishes, and inviting you to come some summer's day, to see them eat their dinner, and run about with them in the green meadows. So, my darling, good bye. Perhaps, before you come to see us, Luca may be a little mother, with a brood of pretty downy children, following all around her.
Kisses and love from your friend, F. E. H.
(From the "Child's Friend.")
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If any child wishes to know how to be neat and orderly, here, to teach them, is the example of
On a swinging little shelf Were some pretty little books; And I reckoned from their looks, That the darling little elf, Whose they were, Was the careful, tidy girl, With her auburn hair a-curl.
In a little chest of drawers, Every thing was nice and prim, And was always kept so trim, That her childish little stores, Books or toys, In good order could be found,— Never careless thrown around.
And she laid her bonnet by, When she hastened home from school; For it was her constant rule,— And she was resolved to try, School or home, How to prove the saying true,— "Order in all things you do."
When she put away her shawl, Nicely laying by her book, She had only once to look In its place to find her doll Snugly there: She could shut her smiling eyes, Sure to find her pretty prize.
See her books,—how clean they are! Corners not turned down, I know! There's a marker, made to show In her lessons just how far. Dog-eared books Are a certain sign to me That the girl must careless be.
She's as tidy as a pink! Clean and neat, and gentle too! If you take her actions through, Just the same, I know, you'll think. School or home, Tasks or play, Books or toys, Every way, Order keeps this loving girl, With her auburn hair a-curl.
Friend of Youth.
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What boy or girl in the Sunday School has not heard of Grace Darling? Are not these two women, whose noble deeds are told below, worthy to be called her sister-spirits?
THE HEROINE OF PILLAU.
A most interesting story is told, in a late German paper, of a remarkable woman in Pillau, Prussia, whose heroism of character certainly rises into the gigantic, or whose intrepidity, to say the least, appears to be unprecedented. This woman, by a truly generous daring, is the widow of a seaman, with whom, for upwards of twenty years, she made long voyages; and, since his death, she has devoted her life, for his memory's sake, to the noble and perilous task of carrying aid to the drowning. Her name is Katherine Klenfoldt. Whenever a storm arises, whether by day or night, she embarks in her boat, and quits the harbor in search of ship-wrecks. At the age of forty-seven, she has already rescued upwards of three hundred individuals from certain death. The population of Pillau venerate her as something holy, and the seamen look upon her as their guardian-angel. All heads are uncovered as she passes along the street. The Prussian and several other governments have sent her their medals of civil merit: the municipality of Pillau has conferred on her the freedom of her town. She possesses an athletic figure and great strength, seeming to be furnished by nature in view of a capacity to go through wild scenes and high deeds. Her physiognomy is somewhat masculine, with the expression softened by a look of gentleness and goodness.
A GENUINE PHILANTHROPIST.
The island of Rona is a small and very rocky spot of land, lying between the isle of Skye and the main land of Applecross, and is well known to mariners for the rugged and dangerous nature of the coast. There is a famous place of refuge at the north-western extremity, called the "Muckle Harbor," of very difficult access, however; which, strange to say, is easier to be entered at night than during the day. At the extremity of this hyperborean solitude is the residence of a poor widow, whose lonely cottage is called the "light-house," from the fact that she uniformly keeps a lamp burning in her little window at night. By keeping this light, and the entrance to the harbor open, a small vessel may enter with the greatest safety. During the silent watches of the night, the widow may be seen, like "Norma of the Fitful Head," trimming her little lamp with oil, being fearful that some misguided and frail bark may perish through her neglect; and for this she receives no manner of remuneration—it is pure, unmingled philanthropy. The poor woman's kindness does not rest even there; for she is unhappy till the benumbed and shivering mariner comes ashore to share her little board, and recruit himself at her cheerful and glowing fire, and she can seldom be prevailed upon to take any reward. She has saved more lives than Davy's belt, and thousands of pounds to the under-writers. This poor creature, in her younger days, witnessed her husband struggling with the waves, and swallowed up by the remorseless billow, "in sight of home and friends who thronged to save." This circumstance seems to have prompted her present devoted and solitary life, in which her only enjoyment is in doing good.
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Here is a pretty piece. It was written, thirty-four years ago, by a class-mate and friend; but it sounds "as good as new." If he should happen to see it here, he will, I know, excuse the alteration of two lines, which, though quite proper for college-boys studying Latin and Greek, are not quite proper for children in a Christian Sunday School.
THE RAIN-DROP AND THE POET.
Come, tell me, little noisy friend, That knockest at my pane, Whence is thy being? Where dost end, Thou little drop of rain?
I come from the deep, Where the dark waves sleep, And their beauty ever the sea-pearls keep; I go to the brow Of the mountain-snow, And trickle again to the depths below.
But, wanderer, how didst win thy way From caverns of the sea? Did not thy sisters say thee nay, Sweet harbinger of glee?
With his far-darting flame, The Day-king came, And bore me away in a cloudy frame; And I sailed in the air, Till the zephyrs bare Me hither to hear thy minstrel-prayer.
And why dost change that tiny form, Thou sweetest ocean-child? Why art the snow in winter-storm, The rain in summer mild?
The breath from above Of Him who is Love, In the snow and the rain-storm bids me to rove, Lest the young-budding earth Be destroyed in the birth, And Famine insult over Plenty and Mirth.
And wilt thou, little one, bestow The minstrel's small request? Wilt come when cares of earth below Press on his aching breast?
'Tis the minstrel's own To kneel at the throne Of Him who reigns in the heavens alone;— The grief of the soul 'Tis His to control, Who bids in the azure the planets roll.
His couch when balmy slumber flies, In watches of the night, Wilt, soother, come, and close his eyes, And make his sorrows light?
I cannot come From my sea-deep home, Whene'er I list on the earth to roam: Who rules in the form Of the ocean-storm His will must the rain-drop, too, perform.
Thy gentle prattle at the pane Makes timorous Fancy smile: Then let me hear that tender strain; Blithe charmer, stay a while.
No: I cannot delay, But must quickly away Where the rills in the valley my coming stay; I haste to the dell Where the wild-flowers dwell, Then "Peace to thee, minstrel," is the rain-drop's farewell.
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The poetry and prose you have been reading, children, thus far was most of it selected, when I was invited to a beautiful celebration, with some account of which you will be glad, I am sure, to have me close my collection. It was on
CHRISTMAS EVENING AT THE PITTS-STREET CHAPEL,
A very neat chapel, where Rev. Mr. Winkley, one of the Ministers at Large, preaches. On this occasion a platform was built up in front of the pulpit: most of the centre pews were filled with happy-looking boys and girls, and the rest of the room, even to the aisles, quite crowded with grown-up men and women. After the singing of two hymns by the children, and a prayer, a gentleman made a short address, telling how much better was the religion of the Jews than the religion of the Heathen. Then was spoken in a very pleasant way the following
RACHEL, a Jewess.—REBECCA, Sister of Rachel.—EUDORA, a Heathen.—JEZEBEL, a Messenger.—RUTH, friend of Rachel and Rebecca.
Rachel. Eudora! welcome, thrice welcome, to Jerusalem.
Eudora. Right glad am I, Rachel, to be once more by your side. The sun has not shone so brightly, nor the birds sung so sweetly, since you bade me farewell at my father's; and every moment has increased my desire to be with you again.
Rachel. You have well done that you have come to me. And though I was not conscious of robbing your lovely home of its brightness, yet sure I am the remembrance of your true kindness and tender friendship has been to me ever since an increase of sunshine and song; and, now that you have come to me, the very temple itself shall look more beautiful, and the songs of David catch a new inspiration.
Eudora. Still faithful, I see, to your temple and Jehovah; and so may it ever be! But I trust you have more respect for the gods I worship, and will not, as of yore, pronounce them false.
Rachel. Sorry should I be to pain a true heart, and, most of all, that of my much-loved guest; but, still I must say, the gods that you worship are no gods. There is but one God, and that is Jehovah.
Eudora. As I came near Jerusalem, I remembered your earnest words on that subject,—as what that you ever uttered have I forgotten? I remembered, too, how nearly out of patience I often felt with you for claiming your god to be the only God; and, so as I drew near, I felt a desire to know him better. It being a time of worship in the temple, I went with a Jewish friend of mine up the hill, and entered the outer court, called, I believe, the Court of the Gentiles. And, verily, I saw no god there. Perchance he was in the temple itself.
Rachel. Yes, in the holy of holies: in the farther apartment of that building which you saw rising amid all the courts, he dwells.
Eudora. I imagined that was his abode. But wherein differs your worship from ours? You have a temple; so have we. You have priests clothed in sacred robes; so have we. You have altars and sacrifices; so have we. You have an oracle and prophets; so have we. You go up to the dwelling-place of your God to worship and offer sacrifices; so do we. Wherein, then, do we differ?
Rachel. If in nothing else, Eudora, yet in this: we have but one temple and one God for our nation; you have many. And again, you worship the work of men's hands,—images of wood and stone, that can neither see nor feel.
Rebecca (coming forward—Jezebel approaches). My heart is moved within me; and though my sister, in her joy of seeing her friend, has left me standing apart, yet your voice has drawn me to you.
Eudora. Surely the sister of my friend shall be my sister: would that I could say her God shall be my God!
Rebecca. Even so may it be!
Eudora. And my gods hers!
Rebecca. But that is impossible.
Eudora. Why? Because, as she says, we have images for gods! But this is not so. Is Jupiter the thunderer confined to an image? or is Juno or any other deity? Have we not many images of all the gods in many places, and are they not in them all? Do not our armies go forth to war, and is not Jupiter with them and Mars also? These images are but reminders of the gods, as my father's statue is of him.
Rebecca. 'Tis true these many images and temples may not hold your gods more than our synagogues hold Jehovah; but as great an error is yours. You worship what has no existence; your gods are creatures of fancy. Your gods, too, are of various character, and not always agreed. This goodly world is not the patch-work of many and different gods, but of one designing mind,—one executing power; and that one, Jehovah.
Eudora. Your sister, in many hours of precious intercourse, has almost persuaded me to believe in but one God; but why, if there be but one, may not that one be our Jupiter, known as the father of gods and men, as well as your Jehovah?
Jezebel (To Eudora). Because he is not. (To Rachel and Rebecca). Why do you talk with that stupid Heathen? You might as well convince a Samaritan dog. I have waited here with a message from David since the fifth hour, and all to be contaminated with idolatrous breath.
Rachel. Why, Jezebel, do you not remember what the wise Solomon has said: "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city;" or Moses' commands concerning the stranger and hospitality?
Jezebel. Well, prate not to me, daughter of Eliab; for I need it not. Tell me if you have fulfilled the mission given you this day, and what answer I shall make.
Rachel. I have. Ye only need say, "It is well." [Jezebel departs impatiently.] (To Eudora.) Be not moved by our neighbor's unkind manners. Did she love Jehovah, she would not thus do.
Eudora. And is Jehovah careful about these things?
Rachel. Yes: every act is noticed by him; every heart is his desire; and herein he differs from all imaginary gods. Jupiter sits apart, and simply rules the nations. Jehovah loves the children he has created, and is careful about their least concerns. He desires their love in return. Your gods demand conduct and sacrifices injurious and degrading. Jehovah's every word is for his people's prosperity.
Eudora. And you are like your god. Your patient doing of right in the past comes to me; and this, with your kindness to the unfeeling and abusive Jezebel, has convinced me more, if possible, than your arguments. Surely I see that it was such a god that I desired to worship in Jupiter. If this be found alone in your god, then does my heart move me to say, Jehovah, He is God, and there is none else. Oh! may I not be mistaken!
Rachel. Trust in Jehovah, and thou shalt not err.
Rebecca. Rejoice in Jehovah, and thou shalt be glad for ever.
Ruth (calling). Rachel!
Rachel. I come. (To Eudora.) Let us hasten; for we have long tarried, and many wait to welcome you. (Singing heard.) Hark! they are singing one of the songs of David: let us go join them.
At the close of the dialogue, the cxxxvi. Psalm was chanted; and then another gentleman described the erroneous notions which the Jews had of the expected Messiah. His remarks were succeeded by
ANNA, MARTHA, SALOME, MARY, of Jerusalem. MIRIAM, LEAH, of Bethlehem.
Mary (coming with Salome to Martha). Martha, I have been seeking, and am glad that I have found you; but why do you weep?
Martha. We may do nothing else now, and the meeting with others seems to be the signal for fresh floods of tears.
Salome. I may not ask the cause of your grief; for my own soul replies it is the common grief,—our nation's bondage.
Martha. Yes, we are slaves; that only thought haunts me; the chosen people of Jehovah in subjection to the idolatrous Roman.
Salome. Where now is the might of David? where the glory of Solomon? Surely Miriam's song may be turned upon ourselves; for the enemy "hath triumphed gloriously," and we are laid in the dust.
Mary. Let us not, however, despond too much. Jehovah will not always chide. The Roman sway shall have an end.
Martha. I know that Messiah cometh, and he will restore all things; but when?
Salome. Yes, when? Long have we waited, and bitter has been our bondage; and even our own Herod has been more cruel than our foes.
Mary. Nevertheless, let us hope. In the fulness of time the promised one will come. (Miriam and Leah approach.) But, see! two more friends join us.
Martha. Rather say, two more slaves.
Salome. Yes; two more to weep with us.
Miriam. Not so, not so, unless we weep for joy. The cloud that has so long hung over us in blackness is beginning to break. We have experienced more of gladness this day than has been ours since the last report that the Messiah had come was proved false.
Leah. Yes, we have heard strange things since the morning service; joyful news have we for you.
Martha. Another false prophet, no doubt, claiming to be Israel's deliverer, and proving a thousand times her foe.
Salome. Let us not cheat ourselves with any more fanatical dreams.
Miriam. No dream this; no fanatic's voice; no prophet's word, but a message direct from Heaven.
Martha. A message from Heaven!
Leah. 'Tis even so. Listen while I tell you. At Bethlehem, last night, the shepherds were watching their flocks as usual; at midnight they were startled by the sudden appearance of an angel of the Lord, and the shining round about them of an exceeding bright light; and the angel spoke to them. "Fear not," said he, "for, behold! I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, even the Messiah."
Martha. Can this be true?
Salome. But how shall he be known?
Anna. In Bethlehem, did you say? But there is no palace in Bethlehem, where a prince should be born.
Leah. Wait a little: I have not told you all. "This," said the angel to the shepherds, "shall be a sign to you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And, when he had thus said, there suddenly joined him a multitude of the heavenly host; and presently they burst forth into this song,—"Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace and good will towards men!" And with this song they departed.
Anna. This is indeed wonderful!
Salome. But have the shepherds seen the babe?
Martha. Oh! tell us that. Have they seen the babe? and are all things as they have declared?
Miriam. Yes. We met them on their return. They were, with full hearts, praising God for the new hope of a glorious deliverance given to the nation.
Leah. All hearts warmed as they spoke; and, catching their gladness, we come to you.
Mary. Then shall we indeed hope! O my people! my people Israel! shall we see you again in your former glory?
Martha. Surely, this news inspires my own soul. Once more shall the Roman be driven forth by the Lord of hosts; once more "shall Jehovah triumph, and his people be free."
Salome. Yes; and Messiah shall bring all nations into subjection to us, as we are now to the Romans.
Anna. Well may we wait a little longer, and bear the yoke with patience.
Mary. I knew the Lord would not always chide, nor keep his anger for ever. Now may we rejoice and glory in the God of our salvation.
Martha. Once more shall the name of a Jew be somewhat more than a byword. When our King shall ride forth in his majesty, conquering and to conquer, then shall the Jews be terrible to their enemies, honored by their friends, and known everywhere as the people of the whole earth whom the Lord delighteth to honor.
Leah. Let us tarry no longer here, feasting on these good things alone; but away; and, in every closet and from every house-top, let us spread the good news.
Mary. Let us first, however, sing to Jehovah a song of triumph, and then to our work.
Miriam. Even so let it be.
Then arose, beautifully sung, this
Welcome day, oh, welcome day! a Saviour is born! Welcome day, oh, welcome day! no longer we mourn. Our nation, exulting O'er foes long insulting, Sings aloud, now sings aloud,—Oh, welcome this day!
Lift your voice, oh, lift your voice! Jehovah is God! Lift your voice, oh, lift your voice! He has lifted the rod. With goodness unceasing, From bondage releasing, We his people will sing,—Jehovah, is God!
Sound it forth, oh, sound it forth! Messias hath come! Sound it forth, oh, sound it forth! through every sad home. With power avenging, Our great wrongs revenging, He has come, he has come, Messias hath come!
Joy is ours, oh, joy is ours! his sword shall defend! Joy is ours, oh, joy is ours! our foes shall now bend. While at their yoke spurning, Their insults returning, Joy is ours,—we are free,—his sword shall defend!
Mrs. S.H. Winkley.
Another address from a friend explained the true idea of Christ as a Saviour, to introduce
EUDORA, Heathen.—ZACHARIAH, JOHN, RACHEL, REBECCA, SALOME, MARY, and JEZEBEL, Jews.
Eudora. Well, Rachel, I owe you more than tongue can tell. The more I study Moses and the prophets, the more I believe in and love Jehovah; and the more surprised am I, that, for a moment, I hesitated in giving up the false gods of my childhood.
Rachel. To Jehovah be your thanks, my friend, my sister; for never by human reasoning should we have been different from you. In love Jehovah revealed himself to us; and what we have so fully learned from him, we have given to you.
Eudora. But what think you of the prophet in the wilderness,—John I think they call him?
Rachel. He is dead. He was a bold man, and a good one, I think; but the best should be careful how they rebuke kings. John rebuked Herod, and lost his head in consequence thereof.
Eudora. Well, we must all die.
Rachel. Not so says he whom John declared to be greater than himself,—Jesus of Nazareth.
Zachariah. If he be what many claim him, he speaks with more authority on that point than the Pharisees.
Eudora. And what do people say he is?
Zachariah. The Messiah.
Eudora. Israel's Deliverer?
Eudora. Well, what says he?
John. That they who believe in him shall never die.
Eudora. Surely, no one believeth that. Or does he jest, by saying what he knows they cannot receive?
Rachel. You have never seen him, or you would not ask that question. No one hearing him can doubt, that he, like John, would seal his words with his blood.
John. You have seen him: is he like John?
Rachel. In boldness very like him. In other respects they differ. John was clothed like the prophets; Jesus wears the common garb. John dwelt in the wilderness, and on the banks of the Jordan; but Jesus frequents the cities and villages. John was stern in manner, and abstemious in food; Jesus is neither. He is gentle and social; often seen at the feasts of the publicans, and associating with the multitudes.
Eudora. But does he, like the former kings of Israel, combine military ardor with his religious enthusiasm?
Rachel. He seems, with all his boundless benevolence, formed to command; but never has he aimed to form an army, though the people would at one time have declared him king. Salome promised to meet us here at this time. I wish she were present. She can tell you more of him than can I.
Eudora. And here she is.
John. Welcome to our circle! and doubly so now; for we would hear of you concerning this Jesus, who we hoped was to be our deliverer from bondage.
Salome. Right glad am I to be here, and more so to speak of him; for he hath come indeed to deliver us from bondage,—a worse, however, than Roman bondage.
John. Are we to have a harder taskmaster than the Romans, before we are delivered?
Salome. No harder master than we now have. The Roman is not our only or worst bondage.
Rebecca. What talk you of so earnestly?
Salome. Jesus of Nazareth.
Rebecca. He has come, it is said, to set up a new kingdom.
Salome. Rather to enlarge the kingdom already flourishing in heaven.
Rebecca. Call it what you may, he is slow in gathering his armies.
Salome. He needs no army for his conquests, but an army of loving hearts and pure spirits.
Rebecca. Then the nation's hope is again blasted, and we are to remain yet longer subjects of a foreign king.
Salome. Not so. This is the true Messiah: he who joins his kingdom shall be free indeed.
Rebecca. But what freedom can there be greater than from Roman bondage?
Eudora. Unless it be a deliverance, such as mine, from idolatry and superstition. Methinks there is no liberty to be compared with that; and, having that, slavery loses its power.
Jezebel. Or deliverance, such as mine, from an unholy temper. Surely, Eudora, mine is the greater deliverance; for what is truth without goodness? You were delivered from error; I from sin. Oh! since I have been from place to place with the Son of God, and listened to his gracious words, I have forgotten to be angry; and, I trust, my growing love for his Father and mine will cleanse me from all sin!
Mary. I, too, have felt his power, and am seeking to join his kingdom. I first took him for a second David, who should glorify his people; then, when no army gathered around him, for a prophet sent to reform the nation. But now I believe him to be greater than either,—even the Son of God, and begin to think that he purposes to bless, not Jews alone, but Gentiles; not Palestine, but the world.
Rebecca. Why should we think him greater than the prophets? why, the Son of Jehovah? Are the reports about his working miracles to be received as true?
Salome. Certainly; for I have witnessed them. I have, at his mere word or touch, seen the leper cleansed; the blind receive sight; the lame walk; and, that last wonderful work, Lazarus of Bethany raised from the dead.
Rebecca. And what think you of all this?
Salome. Just what one of our rulers declared to him the other night, "No man can do these miracles and not come from God, and have God with him." When the Pharisees or the Scribes tell me I am immortal, I question; but when he, thus aided by Jehovah, asserts the truth, it is enough.
Rebecca (to Mary). And did this move you also?
Mary. How could I doubt any doctrine of his, after witnessing these works?
Jezebel. But this is not all. He moved our hearts to love, as well as our minds to believe. With all my ill temper in the past, I have ever taken an interest in children. Judge ye, then, of the effect produced upon me, the first time I saw him, by this circumstance. I was walking along, filled with my usual impatience, when I suddenly saw Jesus at a distance, surrounded by a crowd, many of whom were Scribes and Pharisees. He had pleased the multitude, and excited even the admiration of his enemies; when, as I came nigh, I saw several persons endeavoring to get nearer to him with their children. They were rebuked even by his disciples; but Jesus, seeing the act, asked for the children, took them in his arms, and blessed them. From that moment have I loved and followed him.
Mary. Then came his kind, yet firm rebuke of sin; his description of those who were prepared to join his kingdom; his promise to receive the worst who would become like himself; his assurance that all who continued faithful to the end of this life should in the next be joined to his Father's family; and, above all, the representation of Jehovah as our Father, who would give us eternal joy. Oh! what change have his glorious words wrought in us!
Rebecca. Why do you say "changed us"? Jezebel needed to be changed, but not you.
Mary. Such change as he demanded I needed. Oh! how much! 'Tis true, in form I have served the God of my fathers. I have endeavored to keep unbroken the law; but that was not sufficient. To be like him, the heart must burn with that love to his Father, that your delight will be even to be crucified in his service.
Salome. Yes; as Mary says, he demands that love which not only pours itself forth to friends, but to strangers, and with diligence seeks the happiness even of our bitterest foes.
Zachariah. O that I might have such a spirit, and be one of such a society!
Mary. And so you may.
John. And I!
Rebecca. And I!
Salome. Yes; all, all who are weary of sin, and heavy laden with cares,—all may come, and none will be cast forth.
John. This is freedom indeed.
Rachel. And greatness indeed.
Rebecca. Such a people must be the chosen of the Lord.
Eudora. No longer Jew and Gentile, but one in Jesus.
Salome. Is not this a Saviour for Israel? Oh! my heart burns within me for joy; for all people shall partake of this salvation.
Rachel. Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace and good-will to men!
Mary. The angel's song; and why should not we in a song praise God that he hath visited and redeemed his people?
Rebecca. And may God make us true to this Saviour to the last!
Next came an appropriate hymn; after which the pastor reviewed and explained the meaning of the different exercises of the evening, and what they were intended to teach about the origin and truth and blessedness of Christianity. A prayer was offered, and the services closed with that noble hymn, beginning "All hail the power of Jesus' name," sung to that noble old tune, "Coronation."
I thought the Dialogues would please you, and asked leave to print them here.
If there is any thing in the Dialogues, or in any of the pieces in this little book, you cannot understand, you must ask for an explanation from your parents or teachers, who will be glad to answer your questions. And now, if these "GEMS" give you as much pleasure as the "Christmas Evening at the Pitts-street Chapel" gave those who were present, I think, though "gathered in haste," you will say they are worth keeping, and looking at often.
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