페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

THE LIVING RILL. How often does the unsanctified, yet not uncultivated, human intellect, borrow of the rich imagery of scripture, wherewith to adorn a tale or embellish a stanza, not always knowing, and very rarely acknowledging, the divine source to which he is indebted! Where can we find a more striking proof of the truth of this remark than in those beautiful verses in the Hebrew Melodies, which, once having heard repeated, recur to the memory of the author whenever she is led, by her Living Rill, to meditate on any fresh scene which exhibits the care of the Almighty in supplying the needs of his own redeemed ones.

"The wild gazelle on Judah's heights
Exulting yet may bound,
And drink from every living rill

That flows from holy ground." -Yes, those happy ones, the hart, the hind, and the tender fawn, whose privilege it is to feed upon the mountains of Judah, exult and bound because they know themselves to be safe and all defended in their defencelessness: they repose under the shade of the cedars of the hills, and drink of every sparkling rill which distils from the bright clouds, resting like a crown of glory on the summits of their mountains.

It is to individuals tender and helpless, and wholly wanting in the cunning and discretion and thought needful for eminence in this present life, that the apparently devious course of the Living Rill now leads us; and if in the pursuit the reader should suddenly find that the gentle rill, along which we are endeavoring to lead him, met with fewer obstacles in that part of its course which now presents itself than it did in any other which may

be brought before him, he may perchance arrive at stronger convictions than he ever before entertained, of the wisdom of this world being foolishness with God. Nay, he may find more ; he may, by the divine favor, arrive at this discovery, that more true wisdom necessarily exists in the simplest, weakest human creature who is instructed from above, than in the most acute and sagacious worldling whom society has ever exalted ; for the first is taught to depend upon the omnipotent source of all good, whilst the last forms all his calculations, and builds all his hopes on things which his common sense and boastful reasonings can

was.

not have failed to assure him must shortly pass away from his apprehension, as the shadows of the night before the eye of the day.

The history of the life of Jocelyn was preserved by one not born till a few years after the death of Horace Langford-hence the narrative appears to have been very barren of incidents during the interval between that event and the period in which the child was able to remember. The family continued to live together at Barwell Court, and the justice, it seems, had made up his mind that his son and heir was incapable of improvement. He therefore sought only to make his life easy to him : he could not but see that he was perfectly harmless, and that he had sense enough for self-preservation; he therefore allowed him liberty to range at will about the domain with no other guard upon him than the servants, cottagers, and tenants about the estate, with each and all of whom he was set down as even more deficient than he really

But this, it must be recollected, was the world's estimate of the poor boy. “ The Lord seeth not as man seeth ;' and in His eyes Jocelyn was of much more account than many of the wise, the noble, and the learned. The simple truths of the Gospel had been so clearly, so kindly, and with such evidence of heart-felt earnestness, presented to his mind by Horace, that he had received them not only with deep anxiety, but with that intelligent curiosity which almost always accompanies the revelation of truth when it exactly meets the case of the recipient. Jocelyn was, in fact, an enlightened believer in the leading facts of scripture, and might have shamed many who invent doubts and difficulties as a means of evading the force with which the Bible ought to come home to the heart, forgetting that whilst it furnishes strong meat for those who are of full age, it is prodigal of milk for babes also.

And, indeed, what is there unintelligible to the meanest human capacity in the great facts of the Gospel. To know that if we would be happy we must be saved from misery here and hereafter-that we cannot save ourselves, but that Christ can and will --these things constitute its marrow and fatness; and these things felt and understood, have strengthened, stablished, and settled the hopes of thousands, weak and despised as was poor Jocelyn Barwell.

In the way we have already described, the boy spent most of his time in the open air and in active exertions, obtaining strength of limb and constitution, with freedom of carriage and almost unequalled activity ; but though his features were fine and his complexion pure and glowing, no stranger could have seen him, even for a moment, without perceiving that something was very wrong within. Probably he might have been improved; and, indeed, he had improved whilst Horace was with him : he had then acquired some ideas, and had so far advanced in reading English, that he could read the Scriptures aloud to his friend, when that friend was too weak to hold the book. But as no one, after he had lost that friend, could be found, for several years, willing to bear with his monotonous, unconnected, abrupt style, and his perpetual references to what master Horace had said, and what master Horace had told him, he was often condemned entirely to the society of Cæsar, and to learn no other lessons and acquire no other information but what he picked up by watching the natural inhabitants of the woods, or the adjacent fields, or of the farm and poultry yard, not one of his own fellowcreatures then having the least idea of the sweet things which he could have told them, would they have tolerated his general peroration—" When master Horace lived here, he told me so and so."

In the mean time, no children were granted to the ambitious desires of Mr. and Mrs. Rokeby, although their wishes had been strengthened by the fact that Mr. Rokeby's elder brother, a baronet, had only daughters. At length, when Jocelyn was become a tall long-limbed boy, hopes were given of a young Rokeby, a grandson of Mr. Barwell's. But unhappily, (as Jocelyn himself might have said) when the son was born, he proved to be a daughter. Both parents were disappointed, and poor little Barbara, for such was the name given to the babe, was put out to be nursed by a kindly cottager of superior order, living in a lodge which opened its ga from the most remote and retired part of the park, into a wood of some extent, belonging to the property.

Whether Jocelyn did or did not think it very unkind in his sister to send her little girl away, cannot now be asserted ; but this is certain, that from the day in which she was sent to the

lodge, he went, as regularly as the morning rose, to see the little one. Let the first motire be what it might, it soon became clear to every one that a feeling of strong affection for her had taken deep root in the breast of Jocelyn, becoming, in fact, a principle of his feeble mind, and calling out in the sequel every power and every feeling of his heart and his natural powers. The infant for some months, of course, could not know him nor notice him, but after a while she smiled when she saw him ; and again, after another advance of time, she quavered and crowed, and extended her little arms towards him when he came in sight; and next she hugged him with her baby arms, and kissed him with open mouth, and then she cooed to him-and then she tempted him to carry her out of doors and then she tried to talk to him, and before she could utter his name he was her slave for life, and Cæsar was another of her faithful votaries. Either of these two, it might almost have been said, would have given up his life for her sake; and although infants are the most despotic of all tyrants, yet neither the one nor the other was ever found to resist the exactions of little Barbara. Things had gone on in this way for several years, and at the time when the parents were beginning to contemplate the removal of the child, (though they both agreed that she could not be better than where she was) the long-desired object was given to them in the form of a son, on whom the mother fondly bestowed all her affections, and on whom the father looked as on a future baronet, bestowing his own name, Reginald, on the unconscious little being.

The justice, who had been declining for several years, only lived long enough, after the birth of Reginald, to make considerable alterations to his will : by these he appointed his faithful steward, Watson, and his family solicitor the guardians of Jocelyn, instead of his daughter and her husband ; and having left a large sum to Barbara, he appointed her uncle's guardians to be her trustees.

These arrangements gave such offence to Mr. and Mrs. Rokeby, that very speedily after becoming acquainted with them, they gave up housekeeping at the Hall, left their little girl with the nurse at the lodge, and abandoning the brother, whose very existence was a rankling thorn in their sides, to the easy rule of Mr. Watson, they went abroad with their infant boy. Little did

[ocr errors]

they anticipate the dreadful circumstances which rendered their return impossible, until, even had they desired it, they had lost all opportunity of gathering up the ties of natural and family affection which they had so cruelly cast away ; for these ambitious parents found themselves childless when they returned to England, with no descendant to gather up the title and rich inheritance which had devolved to them. Their son was dead, and the long neglected daughter also passed to a happier state of being. An original letter which had been kept within the leaves of a bible by her to whom it was addressed, written by little Barbara herself, now lies before the narrator, and this epistle, in its childlike style, presents so sweet a picture of him who by the world was accounted a fool, that it would be a shame to give its contents to our readers in any but the original form. It should be, however, remembered, that it was really penned many months after the actual death of the writer's uncle Jocelyn Barwell, and though the paper was much blotted and stained, yet it is, we trust, faithfully made out. It was dated near the end of the last century, and ran as follows:

The Letter. “You asked me, my own dear Miss Emmeline, to write you the account of all I remembered of my own beloved uncle Jocelyn; and it is to be written in order of time, you said, as things happened.

“But when I began to think how I could do that, I got puzzled, for how could I, or any one, set in order the memories of things which happened when they were almost babies ; but I will do my best, and I fear you will think my best very bad; for when I think of my own dear, dear uncle, and of those happy, happy days when I was always with him, I am fitter to cry than to write, as you expect me to do.

“ Then what can I say of those years which reached all along from the time I first remember, till that saddest of all times to me, when my uncle went away to see his Saviour, face to face.

“My uncle taught me never to say that any one was dead who was loved by this Saviour. 'Horace is not dead,' he always said, ‘for Jesus Christ loved him ; he was only asleep when he was taken away. I do not remember my papa and mamma and little

« 이전계속 »