« EdellinenJatka »
THE BELL OF "THE ATLANTIC.”
or woke screaming from dreams of fire. Like Vane, he thought himselt entrusted with the sceptre of the millennial year. Like Fleetwood, he cried in the bitterness of his soul that God had hid his face from him. But when he took his seat in the council, or girt on his sword for war, these tempestuous workings of the soul had left no perceptible trace behind them. People who saw nothing of the godly but their uncouth visages, and heard nothing from them but their groans and their whining hymns, might laugh at them. But those had little reason to laugh who encountered them in the hall of debate or in the field of battle.
T was one Sunday, as I was traveling through the county of Orange,
that my eye was caught by a cluster of horses tied near a ruinous, old, wooden house, in the forest, not far from the roadside. Having
frequently seen such objects before, in traveling through these States, I had no difficulty in understanding that this was a place of religious worship. Devotion alone should have stopped me, to join in the duties of the congregation ; but I must confess that curiosity to hear the preacher of such a wilderness was not the least of my motives. On entering, I was struck with his preternatural appearance. He was a tall and very spare old man; his head, which was covered with a white linen cap, his shriv. eled hands, and his voice, were all shaking under the influence of palsy ; and a few moments ascertained to me that he was perfectly blind.
The first emotions which touched my breast were those of mingled
186 - THE BLIND PREACHER.
pity and veneration. But how soon were all my feelings changed The lips of Plato were never more worthy of a prognostic swarm of bees than were the lips of this holy man. It was a day of the administration of the sacrament; and his subject, of course, was the passion of our Saviour. I had heard the subject handled a thousand times; I had thought it exhausted long ago. Little did I suppose that, in the wild woods of America, I was to meet with a man whose eloquence would give to this topic a new and more sublime pathos than I had ever before witnessed. As he descended from the pulpit, to distribute the mystic symbols, there was a peculiar, a more than human solemnity in his air and manner, which made my blood run cold and my whole frame shiver. He then drew a picture of the sufferings of our Saviour; his trial before Pilate; his ascent up Calvary; his crucifixion, and his death. I knew the whole history, but never, until then, had I heard the circumstances so selected, so arranged, so colored. It was all new, and I seemed to have heard it for the first time in my life. His enunciation was so deliberate, that his voice trembled on every syllable, and every heart in the assembly trembled in unison. His peculiar phrases had such force of description, that the original scene appeared to be at that moment acting before our eyes. We saw the very faces of the Jews; the staring, frightful distortions of malice and rage. We saw the buffet; my soul kindled with a flame of indignation, and my hands were involuntarily and convulsively clinched. But when he came to touch on the patience, the forgiving meekness, of our Saviour; when he drew, to the life, his blessed eyes streaming in tears to heaven; his voice breathing to God a soft and gentle prayer of pardon for his enemies, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!"—the voice of the preacher, which all along faltered, grew fainter and fainter, until, his utterance being entirely obstructed by the force of his feelings, he raised his handkerchief to his eyes, and burst into a loud and irrepressible flow of grief. The effect was inconceivable. The whole house resounded with the mingled groans and sobs and shrieks of the congregation. It was some time before the tumult had subsided so far as to permit him to proceed. Indeed, judging by the usual but fallacious standard of my own weakness, I began to be very uneasy for the situation of the preacher. For I could not conceive how he would be able to let his audience down from the height to which he had wound them, without impairing the solemnity and dignity of his subject, or perhaps shocking them by the abruptness of the fall. But—no; the descent was as beautiful and sublime as the elevation had been rapid and enthusiastic. The first senA HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW
tence with which he broke the awful silence was a quotation from Rousseau: “Socrates died like a philosopher ; but Jesus Christ like a God.”
I despair of giving you any idea of the effect produced by this short sentence, unless you could perfectly conceive the whole manner of the man, as well as the peculiar crisis in the discourse. Never before did I completely understand what Demosthenes meant by laying such stress on delivery. You are to bring before you the venerable figure of the preacher, his blindness constantly recalling to your recollection old Homer, Ossian and Milton, and associating with his performance the melancholy grandeur of their genius: you are to imagine that you hear his slow, solemn, well-accented enunciation, and his voice of affecting, trembling melody; you are to remember the pitch of passion and enthusiasm to which the congregation were raised; and then the few moments of portentous, death-like silence which reigned throughout the house: the preacher, removing his white handkerchief from his aged face (even yet wet from the recent torrent of his tears), and slowly stretching forth the palsied hand which holds it, begins the sentence: "Socrates died like a philosopher"then pausing, raised his other hand, pressing them both, clasped together, with warmth and energy to his breast, lifting his “sightless balls” to heaven, and pouring his whole soul into his tremulous voice"but Jesus Christ-like a God!” If he had been in truth an angel of light, the effect could scarcely have been more divine.
A HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW.
MARY A, FORD.
MT HE surging sea of human life forever | Broad fields uncultured and unclaimed aro onward rolls,
waiting for the plow And bears to the eternal shore its Of progress that shall make them bloom a daily freight of souls,
hundred years from now. Though bravely sails our bark to
day, pale Death sits at the prow, Why should we try so earnestly in life's And few shall know we ever lived short, narrow span, a hundred years from now. I on golden stairs to climb so high above our
brother-man? O mighty human brotherhood! why fiercely Why blindly at an earthly shrine in slavish war and strive,
homage bow? While God's great world has ample space for Our gold will rust, ourselves be dust, a hun. everything alive?
dred years from now.
When 'mid the blest with God you rest, the grateful land shall bow
Above your clay in reverent love a hundred years from now.
Earth's empires rise and fall. Time! like breakers on thy shore
They rush upon thy rocks of doom, go down, and are no more.
The starry wilderness of worlds that gem night's radiant brow
Will light the skies for other eyes a hundred years from now.
Our Father, to whose sleepless eye the past and future stand
An open page, like babes we cling to thy protecting hand;
Change, sorrow, death are naught to us if we may safely bow
Beneath the shadow of thy throne a hundred years from now.
Weary and faint,
Prone on the soldier's couch, ah, how can I
rest, With this shot-shattered head and sabre
pierced breast? Comrades, at roll-call when I shall
Why prize so much the world's applause?
A fleeting echo is its voice of censure or of
The praise that thrills the heart, the scorn that dyes with shame the brow,
Will be as long-forgotten dreams a hundred
0 patient hearts, that meekly bear your
Grand, lofty souls, who live and toil that
Alone may rule the universe, for you is endless youth !
ET me lie down
The surge of the combat, and where I
Oh, it was grand
WILLIAM E. MILLER.
sought, Say I fought till I fell, and fell where I fought,
Wounded and faint.
Oh, that last charge! Right through the dread hell-fire of shrapnel and shell, Through without faltering—clear through with a yell! Right in their midst, in the turmoil and gloom, Like heroes we dashed, at the mandate of doom! Oh, that last chargel