Page images
PDF
EPUB

fish generally live very well and make the vivarium cheerful in winter, when there is little else to put into it.

THE COUSINS. In the little village of Melbourne, behind a cluster of fine old oaks, stood a stately white house, known by the name of Elmwood Priory, the residence of Charles Clayton, Esq. He certainly could not have chosen a lovelier spot to reside in ; the house was surrounded by a spacious park, intersected by winding paths, and thickly studded by beautiful trees. In the midst of these lay a lake, on which glided four graceful white swans.

Opposite to the house was a velvet lawn, on which were scattered here and there, pure sparkling fountains. The heiress to this delightful estate was a young girl, scarcely twelve years old. Fortune had been lavish in her gifts to her ; but, though charms graced her outer form, her mind was sadly neglected. God had bestowed upon her great talents, but she did not cultivate them. Her besetting sin was indolence, which overruled all her good qualities; certainly she had one great excuse, for she had at a very early age been deprived of her mother, but still she had a kind and indulgent father (perhaps too indulgent), with many kind relations; and her father had persuaded a friend of his to come and reside with him, and take the situation of governess to his daughter. Miss Burns found that in undertaking the education of Ellen, she had given herself a very difficult task; her young pupil seemed never to improve, and her father and various masters tried in vain to cure her of her indolent habits. Mr. Clayton, wearied of talking to his daughter, determined to try other means of eradicating her growing faults. He had a niece, who, amongst her little circle of companions, was esteemed a prodigy of learning; industry, neatness, and good temper, were plainly visible in all her actions. He therefore sent for this same young lady, whose name was Mary Seymour, to visit his daughter, for he thought her good conduct would kindle the flames of ambition in Ellen's mind.

Mr. Clayton promised that if Miss Burns gave à good account of her two pupils, at the end of two months, he would take them to see an old nurse who had lived in his father's family upwards of forty years, and who resided some miles from Melbourne. Ellen had not seen old Sarah for a long time, and as she was much attached to her, naturally looked forward with pleasure to this opportunity of seeing her old friend again.

At the end of the two months, however, Miss Burns reported that Mary Seymour had been a very good girl, for she had always repeated her lessons perfectly, and behaved in a proper respectful manner, but that she could not say as much for Ellen, for she had not known her lessons at all well, and had, during a great part of the two months, been both idle and careless ; she certainly thought that once or twice Ellen had been a little more industrious, and she had no doubt, that if she prayed earnestly to her Almighty Father, to assist her in endeavouring to be a better girl, He would do so, and she would become quite a different character.

Mr. Clayton regretted that he could not justly give the pleasure he had anticipated to his daughter, but he determined to be more severe than he had hitherto been with her, and therefore left her at home, and departed with Mary to visit old Sarah. It was a fine sunshiny day, the birds were singing merrily, and all nature seemed rejoiced at the thoughts of the coming spring. Mr. Clayton and his niece had a delightful drive through à most beautiful country. Old nurse met them at the door of her pretty little cottage, her face beaming with smiles ; she gave them a hearty welcome, but was much disappointed on not seeing her little favourite, Miss Ellen.

Mr. Clayton told her how it was that Ellen had not accompanied them, and she was exceedingly sorry, but hoped it would be a good lesson for her. They enjoyed their day very much, and Mary, who was very fond of good scenery, had quite a treat.

When they left the cottage, nurse privately slipped some home-made gingerbread into Mary's hand for her

cousin, saying, as she did so, that she knew Miss Ellen liked her making of gingerbread. When they got home and Mary told Ellen how she had enjoyed her day, and what she had done, you may be sure Ellen deeply regretted that she had not been allowed to join her father and cousin in the excursion.

Mr. Clayton told the girls that at the end of the half year he should award prizes to the most industrious; he promised to give two, thinking that Ellen would then have a chance of gaining one; at the same time, however, he told her that most certainly she would not have one unless he saw that she really tried to merit it. And now Ellen did indeed make up her mind to try hard for the prize which she really wanted to possess, as a proof of her father's approval. She prayed to God to help her and strengthen her, in her endeavours to become a better girl ; and He answered her prayers. She learned by degrees to become neat and orderly; she arose early in the morning, and learnt her lessons perfectly. Miss Burns and her various masters were delighted with the change for the better, which had taken place in their young pupil. Cousin Mary was quite pleased to have so industrious a companion in her studies. Ellen now became quite convinced that industry produces happiness, and self-exertion gains the approval of conscience. The time drew near when Mr. Clayton was to give the prizes ; of course, Mary was the possessor of the first, which was a handsome edition of poems for young people. The second was awarded to Ellen, it was a tale of Miss May's, called “ The Sun. shine of Greystone.” Mr. Clayton said when he presented the book to his daughter, with a smile which was her best reward, how much pleased he was with her progress in her studies, and in conquering her great fault, indolence; he told her that at last she had begun to make use of the talents which had so long lain slumbering in idleness, and that he was sure she now was convinced, that “Industry secures Happiness."

E. H, G.

THE LOLLARDS. “So you want to persuade me that I can't possibly see to read any longer," said Mr. Morton playfully; "perhaps I am the best judge of that matter myself; however, now I come to think, the words do begin rather to run into one another, so there goes my book upon the table. Ah! it is I suppose high time to leave off reading; the evening star, I see, has lighted her lamp. Does she not look very beautiful, my dears, glittering like a diamond in the golden west? There, you'd better come and sit near the window, and then we can watch her while we're talking; we must make the most of her, you know, for she will soon be set. There, can you see the sky well now, with all the beauties of the sunset slowly fading away? I like you to read and to study and to reflect, but that must not prevent you from using your eyes, to examine the great book which is always spread out before you."

“What great book do you mean, father?" inquired Robert, looking puzzled.

“The book of Nature, my boy; nature is often compared to a book; and on its leaves greater wonders are written than the wisest among us can understand. But Emma, I can see, has a question to ask me: what is it, my dear ?"

“Why, papa, I was reading with mamma to-day that when the Knights Templars were put down about the year 1200, a new set of religious people, called friars, arose, and I wanted to know exactly what these friars were ?"

“A great many of the monasteries," said Mr. Morton, "had by this time become possessed of great wealth, and the monks seemed to have been spoiled in consequence; they began to lead easy idle lives, neglecting their religious duties, and spending their time in hunting, hawking, and other amusements. This

, as you may suppose, was a very great evil, and in the hope of remedying it, a new order was established of religious persons; who, unlike the monks, had no settled dwellings, but who went about from place to place, teaching the people, and living by the food and

money which were given them in charity."

“And these persons were called friars, papa?”

“Yes, my dear, they were. There were two great orders of these begging friars, - the black friars, and the grey friars,—so called from the colour of their cloaks. Among them were to be found many very learned men, and doubtless in their way they effected a great amount of good.”

“But they didn't really reform religion though, did they?” cried Robert, "it was Wycliffe, wasn't it? who first began to improve that, for he was more of a sort of Luther, I think; oh I do so wish to know a great deal about him.”

“Perhaps Wycliffe was more like Luther in a humble way," said Mr. Morton, “so little is known about his history, however, that I'm afraid I can't gratify your wish, my boy. I'll tell you, though, all that I know myself. John de Wycliffe was born in Yorkshire, about the

year 1320; he was brought up for the Church, and became a parish priest at Lutterworth, in Leicestershire. At first, no doubt, he was only regarded as a poor humble parish priest, but he soon began to make himself a name, by preaching against the notions then held with regard to the power and authority of the Pope.”

“Yes," said Robert eagerly, "for it was then thought that the Pope couldn't possibly be mistaken in any thing that he taught or said, and it was even supposed that he could grant indulgences for people to do wrong. It was about these indulgences that Luther first began to be angry. But what did Wycliffe do next?"

"A few years later he began to find fault with the monks, friars, and indeed with the Roman Catholic church altogether. In particular, he blamed the clergy for being so fond of their own comfort and ease, and he was constantly trying to induce them to go about preaching barefoot, and dressed in the coarsest clothing, like himself and a few of his followers."

“ Then he must have been a very good man,” said Emma, “if he were willing to lead so hard a life.”

Yes, it shows that he was very sincere, and though he seems to have been too violent in his abuse of the clergy, we must always feel great respect for him, since

66

« PreviousContinue »