Page images
PDF
EPUB

They hied them to the dead man's home,

Lone hearth and vacant chair ;
Deep sorrow dimmed that lowly dome:

Where was the funeral prayer ?

His widowed wife was weeping loud,

While closely to her breast, Affrighted at the unwonted crowd,

A wondering infant pressed ;
His aged mother, bending low

With poverty and care,
Sent forth a feeble wail of wo:-

Where was the soothing prayer ?.

They bare him through his cultured land,

They halted not to weep;
The corn was planted by his hand;

Who shall its harvest reap ?
On-on-beneath his favorite trees

That coffined corpse they bare :
A sighing sound was on the breeze,--

But still no voice of prayer.

Where his own plough had broke the soil

His narrow grave was made,
And ’mid the trophies of his toil

That manly sleeper laid.
His stricken household gathered near ;

They mourned in deep despair :Where was the spell to soothe their tear?

Where was the heaven-breathed prayer ?

[ocr errors]

Forget they that Almighty Hand

Who o'er them held the rod ?
Ah !-blame ye not that alien band, -
They had no man of God!

No healer, Gilead's balm to shed

With priestly power, was there ;
No hallowed lip, above the dead

To lift the voice of nrayer !

LESSON XL.

The English Church Service.-JAMES GRAHAME.

Nor would I leave unsung The lofty ritual of our sister land : In vestment white, the minister of God Opens the book, and reverentially The stated portion reads. A pause ensues. The organ breathes its distant thunder ; notes Then swell into a diapason full :* The people, rising, sing, with harp, with harp And voice of psalms; harmoniously attuned, The various voices blend; the long-drawn aisles, At every close, the lingering strain prolong. And now the tubes a mellowed stop controls ; In softer harmony the people join, While liquid whispers from yon orphan band Recall the soul from adoration's trance, And fill the eye with pity's gentle tears. Again the organ peal, loud rolling, meets The hallelujahs of the choir. Sublime, A thousand notes symphoniously ascend, As if the whole were one, suspended high In air, soaring heavenward : afar they float, Wafting glad tidings to the sick man's couch: Raised on his arm, he lists the cadence close, Yet thinks he hears it still ; his heart is cheered ;

* Diapason, a musical term.

He smiles on death ; but, ah! a wish will rise,
“Would I were now beneath that echoing roof!
No lukewarm accents from my lips should flow :
My heart would sing : and, many a sabbath day,
My steps should thither turn; or, wandering far
In solitary paths, where wild flowers blow,
There would I bless His name who led me forth
From death's dark vale, to walk amid these sweets;
Who gives the bloom of health once more to glow
Upon this cheek, and lights this languid eye.”

[blocks in formation]

It was thirteen years since my mother's death, when, after a long absence from my native village, I stood beside the sacred mound beneath which I had seen her buried. Since that mournful period, great changes had come over me. My childish years had passed away, and with them had passed my youthful character. The world was altered too; and as I stood at my mother's grave, I could hardly realize that I was the same thoughtless, happy creature, whose cheek she so often kissed in her excess of tenderness.—But the varied events of thirteen years had not ef faced the remembrance of that mother's smile. It seemed as if I had seen her yesterday—as if the blessed sound of her

The gay

voice was then in my ear.

dreams of my infancy and childhood were brought back so distinctly to my mind, that, had it not been for one bitter recollection, the tears I shed would have been gentle and refreshing. The circumstance may seem a trifling one; but the thought of it even now agonizes my heart,—and I relate it, that those children who have parents to love them, may learn to value them as they ought.

My mother had been ill a long time, and I had become so much accustomed to her pale face and weak voice, that I was not frightened at them, as children usually are. At first, it is true, I had sobbed violently—for they told me she would die ; but when, day after day, I returned from school, and found her the same, I began to believe she would always be spared to me.

One day, when I had lost my place in the class, and done my work wrong-side-outward, I came home discouraged and fretful. I went into my mother's chamber. She was paler than usual, but she met me with the same affectionate smile that always welcomed my return. Alas! when I look back, through the lapse of thirteen years, I think my heart must have been stone, not to have been melted by it.

She requested me to go down stairs, and bring her a glass of water; I pettishly asked why she did not call the domestic to do it. With a look of mild reproach, which I shall never forget, if I live to be a hundred years old, she said, “ And will not my daughter bring a glass of water for her poor sick mother ?"

I went and brought her the water ; but I did not do it kindly. Instead of smiling, and kissing her, as I was wont to do, I set the glass down very quick, and left the

room.

After playing a short time, I went to bed without bidding my mother “good night;" but when alone in my room, in darkness and silence, I remembered how pale she looked, and how her voice trembled when she said, “Will not my daughter bring a glass of water for her poor sick mother ?”—I could not sleep; and I stole into her chamber to ask forgiveness. She had just sunk into an uneasy slumber ; and they told me I must not waken her. I did not tell any one what troubled me; but stole back to my bed, resolving to rise early in the morning and tell her how

sorry
I was for

my

conduct. The sun was shining brightly when I awoke, and, hurrying on my clothes, I hastened to my mother's room.

She was dead !-She never spoke to me more-never smiled upon me again ;-and when I touched the hand that used to rest upon my head in blessing, it was so cold it made me start. I bowed down by her side, and sobbed in the bitterness of my heart. I thought then I wished I could die, and be buried with her; and, old as I now am, I would give worlds, were they mine to give, could my mother but have lived to tell me she forgave my childish ingratitude. But I cannot call her back : and when I stand by her grave, and whenever I think of her manifold kindness, the memory of that reproachful look she gave me will “ bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder."

LESSON XLII.

The Dying Mother.-POLLOK.

She made a sign To bring her babe-'twas brought, and by her p aced. She looked upon its face, that neither smiled Nor wept, nor knew who gazed upon't, and laid Her hand upon its little breast, and sought For it,—with a look that seemed to penetrate The heaven-unutterable blessings, such As God to parents only granted, For infants left behind them in the world.

« PreviousContinue »