صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

bery, and hanged by the viceroy of the province, to the inconsolable grief of his widow, who spent the first year in visiting his grave, selling his slaves, and marrying his children, with the exception of Panhoe Pan and her brother, the former being still a child, and the latter having made a vow to study the divine sciences for seven years; and then the esteemed lady was conveyed in a sedan-chair, with the usual ceremonial, to the house of the salt-distributor, over which she continued to preside.

The seven years of Lien Shang's study served, as was intended, to make him a scholar of the first class; he received the degree of long-nails from the college of Nankin, and was soon after appointed to his father's office of teataster with a suitable admonition against bribery from the new viceroy; but what chiefly recommended him to public respect was the fame of his accomplished sister. Lien Shang's pride in her was as great as the public expected. She had been the unwearied companion and zealous assistant of his studies; and, though something more than astonished at first to find her genius outstripping his own, yet when her second tale was printed in silver letters for the perusal of the Empress' Mother at Pekin, he lighted fiftytwo joss-sticks in honour of the dispenser of souls, and ever after none could be more polite in acknowledging the lanterns lighted on her birthday, or more hospitable in entertaining the sages who came to converse with her through the screen of painted lattice-work set up for that purpose in his hali of reception. But latterly a more important consideration occupied the brother's attention; he suddenly recollected that his sister's youth was passing, and the duty which devolved on him regarding her settlement in life. There were those in Nankin who suspected his anxiety arose from a laudable desire to provide his house with a new mistress, which he might well despair of accomplishing when a lady of such critical discernment as Panhoe Pan remained to direct his choice. Indeed, the last mentioned quality was the only apparent obstacle to her own disposal, as, besides her extraordinary distinction, she was known to possess a considerable amount of Chinese attractions, in the form of broken feet, small eyes, and black | teeth; and that peculiar merit of her works on which the critics were afterwards so remarkably unanimous, had already produced a deep impression on the more prudent part of the community, from whom eligible offers, indicated as usual by blue duck's eggs and verses written on porcelain, poured in thick and many. The mistress of such gifts and graces was not to be easily won. Panhoe Pan had too fine a sense of conjugal duty to step into it without deep deliberation and inquiry, in the course of which one was found to be extravagant, a second to have a violent temper, and a third to be most shamefully poor. In short, the wisdom which fascinated her suitors was further exhibited in refusing the greater part of them, till, as Lien Shang declared to a confidential friend, in his horror of her never being suited at all, only six mandarins of the first class remained on the family list, concerning whose faults the lady had as yet discovered nothing. The whole family now took alarm; married brothers and sisters, with all their numerous connections, poured in remonstrance, warning, and advice, to which Panhoe Pan listened in the most discreet silence; and then informed them, in a speech of two hours' delivery, interspersed with maxims and quotations from her own works, that if her suitors would assemble in the hall of reception on the fifteenth day of the ensuing moon, and declare their pretensions to her brother, she would signify her opinion of each candidate, and select the most meritorious from behind the bamboo lattice.

The propensity of mankind to value things in proportion to the difficulty of obtaining them has been observed in more countries than China; and this fact may explain why the six mandarins accepted with alacrity the chance of success politely intimated to them by Lien Shang, and only grumbled that the day of trial should be fixed so distant; but Panhoe Pan had reasons for this arrangement, which were not set forth in her oration. Among the sages to whom she daily discoursed philosophy through the screen, there had lately come a young man wearing a plain silk

robe and cap without either tuft or feather. His face was calm and thoughtful as that of Confucius; but his figure was spare and muscular as that of a tiller of the field, and he called himself by the humble name of Tee Sing, a seeker of wisdom. When questioned by the elder philosophers regarding his birth and pursuits, he said he was the only son of the chief mandarin's tenth secretary, and had been sent on a tour of the empire-the new sovereign's example having rendered that proceeding imperative on the youth of Pekin. The inquirers were satisfied with his account of himself and cause of travelling, as it was generally known that since the late emperor had, in the language of the Chinese court circular, 'gone to dwell among his atcestors,' his successor the then youthful Keen Lung, whose subsequent mode of eliciting sound criticism we have recorded-had devoted himself to a year of travel and disguise in order to hear the wisdom and see the wonders of his vast dominions. Considering that Tee Sing was an humble imitator of his sovereign, the wonders and wisdom of Nankin must have appeared in his eyes to be concentrated in the hall of reception, for thither he came as duly as the sun glanced in on its porcelain tiles and pillars inlaid with looking-glasses, and the admiration of the sages was divided between the frankness with which he answered their interrogations, and the modesty with which he heard their opinions on all subjects without advancing any of his own; but this diffidence increased tenfold when the lady spoke, and such was his anxiety to profit by her observations that he always seated himself as close to the lattice as possible, and kept his eyes fixed on its painted bars. Panhoe Pan had more than once passed sidelong encomiums on his attention; he was even supposed to be the hero of her cele brated tale, 'The Reward of Humility,' and Pe Ping Hoe, the only one of the levee who talked with his eyes open, being under seventy, and therefore regarded as unfit for lofty abstraction, had been heard to observe when rather excited at the feast of lanterns, that her veil was subject | to marvellous agitations since the youth made his appear ance, as now a hand and then a feature was visible at every sentence. In short, there was some expectation that a seventh might be added to the list of suitors; but the appointed day at length arrived, the household had been for a fortnight previous in the extreme zeal of preparation, and there was a considerable display of new dresses and ser- vants, the former being borrowed, and the latter hired for the occasion, for Lien Shang was believed to be rich, and naturally wished to support his reputation in the cheapest manner. All the family to the utmost limit of affinity were asembled, the gentlemen at one end of the hall with the brother who wore a most self-congratulating look, and the ladies at the other, behind the bamboo screen, with Panhoe Pan seated in the centre, on a pile of scarlet cushions, and dressed in a robe as nearly approaching to the impe rial yellow as legal security permitted, a girdle of crimson and gold, a newly written manuscript in one hand, and a fan of painted ivory in the other; it is also recorded that the lady put on her smallest slippers and thinnest veil for the ceremony.

The six suitors came, each in the robes of his rank, with a becoming train of attendants, carrying fans and umbrellas; and, last of all, appeared Tee Sing in his usual modest apparel, with only one servant following him-a grave and elderly man, who might have been mistaken for a mandarin of the empire, but that he carried an ivory box under his left arm; at that sight Panhoe Pan let fall her manuscript and blushed through her veil. The salutations being concluded, and half-an-hour of silent contemplation, as became such polished society, having elapsed, the mandarins spoke according to the order of their application. The first was the overseer of mines. He said that, being young, unmarried, and very rich, his heart was captivated by the report of the lady's beauty, and as he had no particular objections to her wit and learning, especially when com bined with such a clear perception of matrimonial duties, he had come to offer her his hand, and her brother one hundred ingots of gold by way of exchange for his sister, as had ever been the custom of the Celestial Empire since

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

it rose superior to the barbarism of surrounding nations. When he ceased, there was deep silence in the hall, and all turned towards the lattice; but Panhoe Pan, gathering her veil close around her, exclaimed, 'The overseer of mines is a child in soul, his thoughts rest on beauty which time will wither like the bloom of the tulip-tree; such love dwells only in the eye, and is beneath the regard of a daughter of wisdom.'

The next was the comptroller of manners in the province of Nankin; he opened his declaration with a statement of his high descent, the important offices filled by his relations, and the power and influence which he exercised; he then described the cost and splendour of his new built house, and averred that it only required a mistress worthy of his rank and fortune, and having heard of none so ac complished as Panhoe Pan, he now requested her acceptance of his hand, and her brother to name the sum he would require in her stead. Pride is the beginning of all crime,' responded the lady; the love of a vain man tends only to his fancied glory, let no daughter of wisdom become the train of a peacock.'

[ocr errors]

The next was the surveyor of temples; he spoke with dignified modesty of the highly respectable position which the late emperor had seen fit to confer upon him, of his own upright conduct, and the flattering testimonies borne to his character and abilities by men of every class, adding, that though his fortune was not so ample as that of some competitors, he had every prospect of advancement as his talents were known at court, and, being charmed with the wit and wisdom of Lien Shang's incomparable sister, he had determined to make an offer of marriage, convinced that her literary distinction would secure her the interests of his family better than the wealthiest connections. The lady's fan rattled against the bamboo, as she replied, 'The wise look on cunning as the eagle regards the mole. Wo to the wife of a designing man; there is no certainty in her days! Let the surveyor of temples seek some other advantage.'

The chief keeper of prisons then rose; he was exactly sixty-five, and said that, though his pig-tail had grown white in rather unpleasant service, and he had poured out his soul in unavailing sorrow over the graves of three successive wives, yet, having realised a considerable fortune, and being in possession of a large house and fifteen sons and daughters, he sincerely believed, from the sentiments set forth in the lady's works, which agreed in every tittle with his own, that she was the proper person to reverence the sunset of his days, and instruct his children how they should do likewise. 'What do I hear?' said Panhoe Pan, half screaming with indignation; the owl saith to the falcon, Come and make my nest honourable!' Grey hairs should dwell with discretion, and not a haughty spirit; let all wise women remember that he who exacts much will give little.'

[ocr errors]

The keeper of prisons looked about to scold; but his kind intent was interrupted by the dispenser of justice, an aged mandarin whose spine defied his efforts to stand straight on that important day. Excellent words,' said he, 'discover a lofty mind, and know, oh! Lien Shang, that I admire the resolute soul of your sister even more than her beauty and talents, though they rise beyond comparison; my age seems somewhat advanced, I am rich and childless, for my only son hath proved rebellious, and married the daughter of a tooth stainer, for which I have resolved to disinherit him, and who is there that would assist me in keeping the base at a distance so ably as the incomparable Panhoe Pan?' Learn to forgive thine own offspring before thy soul is called to account before the great Tien,' cried the lady in a still louder key. Evil will overtake the vindic-| tive man, and she that weds him must expect part of his punishment.'

The dispenser of justice happened to be rather deaf, and his request for an explanation was lost in the speech of the next suitor, who held the office of keeper of archives, and had the smallest train among the six. He declared himself unable to offer more than fifty ingots of silver to Len Shang, being obliged to support his mother and a large

helpless family, of which he was the eldest son, at the same time acknowledging that he had neither descent nor distinction to boast, having obtained his office only two months before through the gratitude of the viceroy, whose son he had saved from drowning; but having read the works of Panhoe Pan, and also caught a glimpse of her once by accident at the altar of the winds, her shadow was cast upon his soul, and he came to ask her acceptance of his home and affection. Her attendant ladies denied the fact, but it was asserted that at the close of this declaration, the lady's ivory fan rebounded off the keeper of the archives' head, and her manuscript followed it with a shout of When will presumption cease? Well may women lament when she that has been called wise and honourable is mocked by a vain pretence; the love that seeks its superior is the child of selfishness and conceit, and wise women despise it!'

6

Scarce had she spoken when Tee Sing rose. With his wonted humility he had occupied an inferior seat; but the lady's eye brightened as he approached Lien Shang, and the youth, gazing on the lattice, proceeded, Brother of the most famous among women, I came a suitor to your sister. I read her works in my distant home, and undertook a long journey in order to learn the full amount of her wit, and knowledge, and beauty; all these I have discovered and found them to exceed report; but I resign my suit and return alone-for Panhoe Pan is a fault-finder, her soul has an eye too keen for blemishes to be the abode of love, but when my house requires a censor I will remember your sister.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

There came neither sound nor sign from behind the lattice, but the veil of silver tissue shook like all the boughs of an aspen in the summer wind; and Who art thou?' gasped Lien Shang, almost suffocated with anger, that thy house might require such a comptroller?' but at the same moment the grave servant touched a spring in the ivory box, which flew open, and out of it he unfolded a mantle of the imperial yellow, and reverently placed it on the shoulders of Tee Sing.

'Pride is rebuked by truth from the lips of the son of heaven!' cried the keeper of the prisons; sound the gongs that Nankin may know that the father of China is among us!' The gongs were accordingly sounded, and that night Nankin kept a regal festival in honour of Keen Lung, but the reception-hall of Lien Shang's house was left silent and solitary, nor was it ever again visited by either sage or suitor, for Panhoe Pan the same night departed to the house of the sisters of celibacy on the frontiers of Mantchooria, and ever afterwards devoted herself to the service of the stars, and the composition of those inestimable works on which the three thousand critics and the imperial decree passed that unparalleled eulogium.

FRAGMENT FROM A MANUSCRIPT JOURNAL.

A PRESBYTERIAN'S THOUGHTS ON MUSIC IN DIVINE SERVICE ON HEARING GRAND MASS.

Music is one of the fairest and most glorious gifts of God, to which Satan is a bitter enemy; for it removes from the heart the weight of sorrows and the fascination of evil thoughts.'— Luther.

I

In Paris pleasure's goddess reigns supreme, and I confess that under her gay and glittering sceptre time rolls rapidly and pleasantly along the seventh day excepted, which being kept more as a holiday than a holy day, makes us Presbyterians feel anything but joyful, even though you attempt to join in the universal jubilee. Last Sabbath, however, went to hear Grand Mass in the celebrated church of St Roch; and the general effect was highly imposing, but the music was sublime, as, amidst eddying clouds of incense, the cadences of a well-trained choir, and the swelling tones of the organ, vibrating through the pillared and vaulted aisles, undulated onwards, in their aerial way, to mingle in eternity's unfathomable and ever-flowing tide, and lifting the soul to higher thoughts, in spite of all the gorgeous spectacle before you. Yes, much as we may disagree with the Catholics, I have ever thought that we have

gone far beyond the just mean in not using the due influence of music in our services. None can deny that it may often have been even abused, and so has every good in this world; nevertheless, it was doubtless intended to form no mean part in the worship of God. The difference in effect of a verse read in a common manner instead of a solemn and earnest one, shows that there is much even in the tone of voice, and why should not an Almighty Being, who knows every thought, receive the homage and fullness of the soul as well from heart-felt tones as from words? We cannot utter all his praise.' Do not the shouts and loud acclamations of an assembled nation proclaim to its king the devotedness of his subjects more than words of deepest pathos can express? and cannot the panting of the exulting or troubled bosom breathe forth to Heaven its unutterable praise or acceptable prayer? Then why is our church-service so much conducted by cold reasoning, and often even without this aid to convince the understanding, but merely by the apparently severe and rugged orthodoxy of Calvinism, all of which, however true and excellent, might at least be much softened and the impression deepened, by elevating the soul to feel that beyond it there is an Omniscience which the mind cannot fathom, an Omnipresence from which it cannot escape, and an Omnipotence which it cannot gainsay ? and why should not every emotion that bears in the remotest degree an affinity to so solemn and mighty an end be stirred into active exercise by lawful and most natural means? and does not music, or even the modulation of the voice, yea, even the manner itself, and much indeed the opening sentiments of a discourse, help in producing these effects? and who that has heard men with these talents, or read their various writings, can deny the force and charm of this last-how at once the attention is rivetted, how the melody of their words brings the mind gradually into the field, softens it, and fits it to receive the seed, often retaining it till the young plant is sprung, or watering it, thus sprung, with the showers of salvation. Few men, indeed, have such powers; but does not solemn music, with appropriate words and even without words, from its effect on our minds, have one and all of them, more or less? We at least appear greatly in error in having almost banished its thrilling harmony from our churches. That it has often been carried beyond due limits there is little doubt. This is no apology. Each under its effects must hold the helm of his mind, and guide it to the proper theme, and let the blame, as in other means, rest on himself, should he prefer grovelling on things of earth in preference to those of heaven.

No reasoning, I am aware, can resolve all this into an accurate demonstration, neither can it almost any part or doctrine of Christianity; but truth can be felt. How the mind is sometimes raised from the very dust by the simplest tone struck by accident! how often does the gentle moaning of the wind waft the thoughts from present to more distant realities, or the faintly-throbbing swell of the Æolian, fanned by the fluttering air, lull the tumult of the soul, and 'soothe the spirit to love!' and does not the Almighty himself, in the breathing of the troubled ocean, the tempest, or the lightning's thunder, proclaim the majesty and power of heaven's loud harmony, and make you feel that every nerve of the body and every emotion of the mind can be racked to pain or roused to potent energy by the slightest change of a tone? and if such be the powers of music, and even the modulation of the voice over our wondrous physical and mental frames, why not, in dependence on the Divine aid, cause them to be more employed; and why should we, Sabbath after Sabbath, have our finest feelings marred, and loftiest thoughts stilled, by the harsh discord of unstrung voices, unmellowed by the harmonious choir, or the deep diapason and solemn pealing of the organ, deepening even our holiest emotions, and rolling the soul onwards to eternity? and are we also to go in direct opposition to the commands of the Bible to praise him with psaltery and harp, with timbrel, and instruments of ten strings, with trumpets and sound of cornet ? and is it not revealed. that the thousands

[blocks in formation]

V.-BEST WHITE PAINT: INNOCENCE.

May innocence preserve thee long

From inward and from outward strife-
From doing and from suffering wrong,
Along thy path of life!

VL.-ROUGE SUPERIEUR NE SE VEND PAS A PARIS: HODETY.
Hail, modesty! fair female honour, hail!
Beanty's chief ornament, and beauty's self!
For beauty must with virtue ever dwell:
And thou art virtue, and without thy chartus
Beauty is insolent, and wit profane.

VIL-A MIXTURE GIVING SWEETNESS TO THE VOICE: NILIYES

AND TRUTH.

It is curious to remark how the nature of truth may be charged w the garb it wears; sweetened to the warning of friendship, or sens to the severity of reproof. — Mackenzie.

VIII-A FINE LIP-SALVE; CHEERFULNESS.

Come, cheerfulness, triumphant fair.
Shine through the hov'ring cloud of care!
Oh, sweet of language, mild of mien!
Oh, virtue's friend, and pleasure's queen!
Fair guardian of domestic life,
Kind banisher of home-bred strife-
Nor sullen lip, nor taunting eye,
Deform the scene when thou art by!

IX.-MOST SALUTARY EYE-WATER: BENEVOLEN a.

A solitary blessing few can find,

Our joys with those we love are so entwined.
That he whose wakeful tenderness remotes
Th' obtrusive thorn that wounds the breast he last 33,
Smoothes not another's rugged path alone,
But scatters roses to adorn his own.

The affectionate Saviour, to sympathy gave
The imperishing charms she wears,
When, as wept the sad sisters at Lazarus' grave,
He mingled his tears with theirs.

Would you the bloom of youth should last,
'Tis virtue that must bind it fast;

An easy carriage, wholly free
From sour reserve or levity;
Good-humour'd mirth, an honest heart,
And looks unskill'd in any art;
Humility enough to own

The frailties that a friend make known;
And decent pride enough to know
The worth that virtue can bestow:-
These shall be yours, which ne'er decay,
Though youth and beauty fade away,
For time, which all things else renoves,
Still heightens virtue, and improves → 2:d. Meer,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

THE CURATE OF SANQUHAR. It was a pleasant day in June, the sun was shining brightly in the blue sky, the lark was at his song on high in the air, and the mountain-bees were booming past on wings of music; when three covenanting brethren in their wanderings had laid themselves down among the tall and feathery brakens on the grassy slope of a steep hill. weary times,' said one of them, and were it not the grace These are of Him in whose cause we suffer this wrong, that sustains the heart and imparts fortitude, we would utterly sink under the trial.'-'I brood with pain,' said Andrew Clark, ' over my poor wife and children, not knowing how they may be faring while I am wandering in this wilderness; for myself, I can bear all and rejoice in it, but my heart bleeds for these poor innocents!'-' And I,' said John Wilson, have a dear father and mother, whose sustenance depended on my industry, till I was forced to flee for my life, and leave them to themselves. O how my heart yearns over them! My own privations I would deem as nothing, if I knew that they were provided for; but the God in whom they trust will not forsake them.' And I,' said James Gray, have neither wife nor children, father nor mother, but I have a beloved sister, of a tender and sickly constitution, whom the distress of the times has brought near the grave, and she is all my care. Oh! that I were now with her to minister to her wants! But God will bless her, the God of her father and her mother whom she tended like a ministering angel, till they terminated their earthly pilgrimage; and me she led to Christ. Dear friends, these are mournful times, but our Master bears us up, and that is enough; to Him be our acknowledgments.' Hush!' said Andrew Clark, I thought I even now heard a sound issue from the hazelwood in the glen beneath. Hark! do you not hear it?'-'Yes,' replied Wilson, it is the soft and suppressed sound of music; there, there it comes swelling, full and loud on the breeze,-it is the sound of praise ascending to the upper sanctuary: a company of worshippers are in that thicket; let us go and seek them out; they are a portion of God's suffering remnant, who, like ourselves, have fled to this solitude in the dark and cloudy day of Zion's affliction; let us go and join them.' Stay,' said James Gray, what's yon I see emerging from behind the hillock on the moor? a pair of troopers, on my word! but we are safe here.'- Yes,' said another, were it not for these dogs, we might be snug enough, ensconced here among the deep brakens; but then these dogs will as surely find us out as the greyhound scents out the cowering hare. We must move, friends, not from this consideration merely, but for the sake of the poor worshippers down in the thicket there; we must decoy the party from them, for to a certainty they will invade them like wolves on the fold; we are light of foot, and we have the benefit of the height, where it is steepest, and if they pursue us, it will save our friends in the bushes; let us rise, then, and show ourselves.'-Stay for a minute or two,' said another, and let us watch the result.' As they came near, Andrew Clark exclaimed, Fear not, friends, these men will do us no harm; the foremost is the curate of Sanquhar, a man who never reveals the wanderers; and the person who is with him will not likely act contrary to his will, if he lay on him the injunction. This curate is a kindly man, and is more disposed to indulge in glee than in cruelty; besides, he considers that he owes me a favour. If all the incumbents in the parishes around were like him, our annoyances would be fewer, and we might sleep securely in our own homes at night, instead of stretching ourselves on the brown heath, or crawling into the chilly caves. deed be a religious person, but he is generous, and he has I respect this man; he may not indone things in kindliness to our suffering brethren, for which we owe him gratitude. But see they take the moss, trusting that, in this fine dry weather, its surface will be so firm as to bear them through; but they are mistaken, for there are sinking morasses and deep wells covered with water-plants that conceal the danger, and if they stumble on one of these they are gone; but we are here to render

[ocr errors]

6

202

[ocr errors]

805

assistance if needed; they have not heard the singing in
notice it.'
the hazel bushes; no, or if they have, they do not wish to

ment among the brakens on the hill, the curate and his
companion advanced into the moss, and for a while pro-
As the friends were thus conversing in their conceal-
ceeded with difficulty, when all at once, having come sud-
ground, man and horse plunged almost out of sight in a
denly on one of those deceitful pits in the dark boggy
moment.
were instantly on the spot, and by their united exertions
rescued the men from a deep smeary grave in the moss.
The three brethren sprang from their lair, and
When they were recovered from their stupefaction, and
landed on the firm turf on the edge of the marsh, the cu-
rate easily recognised Clark, and thanked him warmly for
his prompt assistance in the hour of peril. One good turn
deserves another,' said Clark; 'you have more than once
screened us, and your generous interference must not be
forgotten. We seek the harm of none; we wish to live in
peace with all. You have seen us now; and all we wish is,
that you will not take notice of the circumstance.'-' Tell
your friends,' replied the grateful men, tell your friends
whose voices we heard in the thicket, that they shall not
be scathed by me; only look well to yourselves, for you
know there are other eyes abroad than mine.'

[ocr errors]

to traverse the same rugged moor in the depth of winter; it was an intense frost, and the face of the moorland was Long after this occurrence, the good curate had occasion as hard as a board, and wishing to cross the same moss, he directed his mare into the individual track in which she had formerly sunk, but all his efforts could not induce her to advance. On finding that his endeavours were fruitless, he turned away her head with the remark, 'You brute, you have a better memory than a judgment;' and hence the local proverb still used in the district, You have a better memory than a judgment, like the curate's mare.'

parishioners for their covenanting leanings, but rather
The curate showed no disposition to molest any of his
sought to screen them when mischief was likely to befall
them.
who were inclined to nonconformity would only consent to
come within the wall of the churchyard, though they did
He made it publicly known, that if the people
not enter the church, he would give a favourable report of
them when inquiries were made, and that he would shield
them as far as was in his power from molestation.

shows his benevolent disposition. His house was situated Another anecdote is told of him, which very plainly Nith, which was skirted with the flowery broom, and on a pleasant green, close by the margin of the silvery shaded with dense copsewood, and was altogether a sweet and picturesque scene, and a residence which a studious and contemplative mind would prefer to occupy. Our curate, it would appear, delighted in the harmless pastimes that were common in the place; and one day he was engaged with a few associates in a game at quoits on the velvet turf, by the river's side, when two men, in breathless haste, dashed into the stream, right opposite the curate and his party, and exclaimed, Where shall we run, for we are pursued by the troopers?' The curate instantly perceived how matters stood, and that the poor fellows were fleeing for their lives; and, having resolved to screen them if it was in his power, he replied, Doff your coats instantly, and take a hand with me at the quoits.' This suggestion was immediately complied with, and the dragoons, who were a short distance behind, having crossed who were now busy at the game, asked, if they saw two the stream at the same place in the pursuit of the fugitives, men in full flight passing by them; they are a brace of have outrun us, and gained ground in passing over the whigs,' said they, whom we started in the moors, and they soft moss.' The men you are in quest of,' replied the curate, we plainly saw, and they cannot be far off; you can cross the field there by the broom, and haste and track them out; the prey will reward the chase.' The horsemen then continued the pursuit, not having the most distant suspicion that the men were standing before them concealed under the curate's wing. It must be admitted that this

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

was a perilous, and therefore a disinterested act on the part of the honest curate, for had the thing been whispered, he had paid dearly for his generosity. Such a man deserves respect, for his humanity was exercised on this occasion at no small risk to himself.

But we now proceed to the main incident connected with the story of the worthy curate. James Kirkwood was a man of a facetious disposition, and of an easy temper; he possessed a considerable vein of wit, and had a goodly spice of kindliness in his nature. He was settled in his curacy at an early period after the ejection, for documents have been found in his hand-writing, addressed to the magistrates of the burgh of Sanquhar, of a date prior to the battle of Pentland. He was a man who made no slight impression on the popular mind, as the anecdotes and witty sayings that are retailed of him to this day plainly

show.

proceeded to the church with as much coolness and com posure as if nothing had happened. He had no sooner en tered the pulpit, than, according to his anticipations, the company from the castle took their seats in what was called the loft, in full view of the preacher, and Airley, with some of his troopers behind him, placed himself conspicuously in the front. All this might have daunted another man, but on Kirkwood it made no impression other than to rouse him to greater effort, and to nerve his frame with greater firmness.

[ocr errors]

In those days the kirks were furnished each with a sandglass instead of a clock, to measure the time, that the minister might know how to calculate the length of his discourses, and this instrument was placed near the pree tor's hand, whose duty it was to turn it when the sand had run down. These glasses were of various sizes, from an hour to half an hour; in the summer season the hour-glass The following story elicits certain features of his charac- might be employed, and in the winter season the half-hour ter and disposition, which present him before us in what one, as conveniency might require. Kirkwood had chosen was probably his real character. The Earl of Airley, in for his text the following words:The Lord shall destroy his raids through the country, arrived with his troop at the the wicked, and that right early. This, it seems, he did for castle of Sanquhar, the residence of the noted Queensberry. accommodating the word 'early' to one of his principal This castle, an ancient feudal stronghold, frequently de- auditors, who, on the previous night, had teased him mest nominated Crichton Peel, from a family which inhabited and entangled him most in its bewitching debaucheries. it for sundry successive centuries, was occupied by the re- As he proceeded with his discourse, and waxed warm on doubted Queensberry, prior to the erection of the princely the subject, he made frequent use of the words of the edifice of Drumlanrig; here Airley found himself at home, text, laying a special emphasis on the word early?' and and in the midst of a society congenial to his wishes. It pointed with his finger to the Earl, as if the subject had its happened on this occasion, that on a Saturday afternoon, whole bearing on him personally; the Lord will destroy the curate, whose humorous and quaint manners had often the wicked, and that early too'—and again he vociferated. amused the circle in the castle, was sent for to entertain and that early,' till he drew the entire attention of the Airley in the midst of their festivities, and accordingly he audience to the object at which he was aiming. The people made his appearance at the Peel at the appointed hour. He were astonished and amused at the freedom and the boldwas introduced in his appropriate character to Airley, ness which their preacher dared to use in the presence of who found him in every respect to his liking. Having dined, his superiors, and these redoubted men who were a terror the company continued at wine and wassail till supper, at to the country. If the people were astonished, Airley was which late hour Kirkwood probably found that it would no less so, when the curate borrowing his lordship's exhave been more to the purpose had he been at home, and pression, which he used at the board of revelry, one glass in his study, but he was induced to remain, the party find imore and then, Mr Kirkwood, when he wished to detain ing that his presence was indispensable to their entertain him a little longer. Jasper,' said he to the precenter, ment. Airley, it seems, used a great many freedoms with the sand is run out, turn it, for we want one glass more Kirkwood, who was in all his glory in the midst of the and then;' this being done, he proceeded in his dashing merriment and carousals, and forgot that the Sabbath was and impetuous way, and with great vehemence of action. stealing on apace, and that he had to officiate to his con to declaim against the wickedness of the world, and to de gregation on the hallowed day. When he found that it was nounce the divine judgments on those who persisted in far past midnight, he made sundry awkward efforts to their sins, and casting a glance over the congregation, be withdraw, but Airley as uniformly prevented him, by ex- cried out, The Lord shall destroy the wicked, and the claiming, Come, Mr Kirkwood, another glass and then,' directing his eyes to the place where Airley sat, add-d till daylight began to dawn, when he succeeded in releas-and that early,' and 'that right early. In this fashim ing himself from the hilarious party, and retreated homeward by the south side of the town, through the broomy fields next the river, and reached the house undiscovered.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

he continued till the upper storey of the sandholder had emptied itself a second time, when he called out to the pre centor, Another glass and then;' and then went on as Being now safely lodged in his own domicile, he began before, pouring forth a torrent of declamation as conting to bethink himself what was to be done against the ap-ously as the sand poured its willing stream through the proaching hour of divine worship-not that he cared much narrow neck of the glass, with this difference, that wheress for the public opinion, but he felt himself utterly unfitted the sand ceased to flow when it had exhausted itself, be for anything but sleep. Kirkwood, it would appear, was never seemed to fail nor to empty himself of his subject. a man of talent, and a ready speaker, who found no diffi- How long he proceeded in this way is not said, or how culty in addressing his congregation at any time, and in many exact times the precentor turned the glass is not this respect he was immeasurably superior to the majority now known, but certes, the party from the castle were of his brethren around him; and it was probably because threatened with a detention which might perchance tax he was a man of this cast that Queensberry had located their patience somewhat more than their detention of the him in his present situation, and as being useful to himself preacher on the preceding night taxed his patience, they in other respects. On this occasion, our curate thought it were taught that he could ply his glass as freely as they probable that the party from the castle might visit the could ply theirs. church at the ordinary time of meeting, and more especially as there might exist a certain curiosity on the part of some to see how he would acquit himself after the night's debauch; and therefore, after a brief repose, he addressed himself to his studies, if so be he might be able to command something appropriate to the occasion.

It fell out exactly as he opined, for Airley manifested an unwonted curiosity to see how his facetious friend would acquit himself as a preacher, and accordingly he determined to repair to the church to witness the exhibition. When the hour arrived, Kirkwood, being no refreshed, and having fixed on what he deemed a suitable subject,

Whether they enjoyed the scene or felt displeased, is not said, or whether the curate meant the thing in earnest, or in mere parade, we cannot say, but there can be no doubt that the audience received impressions not soon to be ef faced, that there was something in the conduct of these gentry highly culpable, when even one of their own underlings dared to use so much freedom of speech, in directing his remarks so pointedly to themselves We may easily conceive, that Kirkwood would lose nothing in popular es timation, by his apparently bold and unsparing reprehensions. That the impressions made by this day's exhibition were deep and fondly cherished, is evident from the fact,

« السابقةمتابعة »