« PreviousContinue »
heart have here been told. The way in the reader to ponder with increased admirawhich it is fed, the way in which it is pro- tion on the works of the Lord and the operatected from injury, the curious structure of tions of His hands. He that hath ears to the vessels coming back to the heart, and hear, let him hear ; let him bring a wise and many other things, might be dwelt on. But understanding mind to think about the enough, it is hoped, has been said to cause l marvels of the heart.
THE PARSON'S EXPERIMENT:
Or, a Theft and what came of it.
BY THE RIVERSIDE VISITOR. THAT "HAT “the needy shall not always be into sorrow or suffering cannot enter; in
forgotten : the expectation of the poor which all are rich alike, having entered into shall not perish for ever,” we have the oft- the joy of their Lord; the life everlasting, repeated assurance of Him whose word shall whose joy it passeth mortal mind to realise, not pass away. This promise is generally or mortal tongue to tell; that life towards held to be one of those whose fulfilment has which, if rightly used, the trials and crosses reference to the life to come; the life where which poverty brings into the brief space of this earthly life may be made stepping-stones. in God, and one upon which Christians are It is a promise which, taken thus, often bound to act in a liberal and literal spirit. brings much needed consolation and sustain- He believes that in the seemingly vilest there ment to the poor in their greatest trials. is always something, and often much, that is But while this is true, it is also pleasant at least a possibility of good; and that in to see that even in this world, and as any case it is not for us to hate, but to pity, regards the life that is now, the needy and try to raise them. He advocates a are not always forgotten. True it is that personal charity so broad in spirit, and one half the world does not know how prompt in action, that it narrowly escapes the other half lives; that the great mass the dreadful charge of being “promiscuous;" of those to whom the lines have fallen in and we are afraid that his ideas of the duties pleasant places here below, take no heed of of employers toward employed would be or for their less fortunately placed brethren, condemned as highly heterodox by the stricter more, we are fain to hope, through thought- disciples of political economy. Nay, his lessness of spirit than hardness of heart. social heterodoxy goes even further than this. But there are happily many exceptions to He stoutly maintains that even in dealing this rule. There are numbers of men and with the people and things of this world, we women—and here we speak not of those should be guided by a higher law than the who have made themselves name and fame law of the realm—by a law which is above in this wise, but of the rank and file of that law, the law of Christ, the law of love. the noble army of workers, who are little This latter is one of his strong points; one known beyond the spheres in which their of his favourite hobby-horses, as some would labours of love are wrought—who, simply put it. On this head he will not hesitate to moved by a Christ-like spirit of pity and speak evil of dignities, and roundly assert love, do “consider the poor ;” who visit that much of our criminality, though neither them when sick, clothe them when naked, from design nor from real indifference, is yet feed them when hungry, console them in really law-made ; is such as must result from sorrow, counsel them when in difficulties, the application of the statutory law as it is; bear with them if the hardships of their lot but might be prevented if individuals would make them bitter of spirit; who, risking apply the higher law of Christ. disease and death, seek them out in their Nor is he content with merely holding and fever-haunted rookeries; who wisely, gently theorizing upon such views. He has the lead them into the path of everlasting life, by courage of his opinions, and acts upon them. showing a practical interest in their life That in doing so he occasionally meets with below; who do not turn the message of the curious adventures, is sometimes deceived, Master to stone, by offering it where bread and often “chaffed,” or called a foolish should be offered first; or weaken the teach- fellow, even by his friends—all this will be ing of our common brotherhood in Christ, readily understood. But such things fall by any forgetfulness of our common brother-lightly upon him, for in many instances his acts hood in humanity.
bring their own exceeding great reward, in That there are many such men and women the shape of knowledge that they have been in our midst should be matter of rejoicing to effectual for good. And one rather striking us all; and it certainly is matter of rejoicing instance of this kind, with its , sequel, we to ourselves that our own district is not lack- here propose to relate—an instance of a wise ing in such workers. One of the most notable and firm application of the law of love in preof these is a clergyman whom men of the ference to the law of the police court. world, and we fear some who would not For clearness' sake we will call our friend account themselves men of the world, would Mr. B., and mention that he is a married probably regard as a sort of combination of man with a family. One afternoon his son, Don Quixote and “Parson Lot.” Extremes a little fellow about eight years of age, asked we are told meet, and he is so extremely him for a shilling wherewith he wished to buy practical in his Christianity that to super- something by way of a birthday gift to a ficial observers, or those content to hold schoolmate. The shilling was given him, and that
he immediately set out in joyous haste to “Whatever is is right,"
make his purchase, little dreaming of the he would seein to be impracticable. “God adventure that awaited him. He had not has made all men of one blood,” is to him gone very far when the shilling fell out of his not a well-sounding phrase merely, but a hand and rolled down the grating of an area. truth, indicating man's common fatherhood | As it happened in a respectable neighbour
hood, this in itself was not a particularly reasons ; so come with me, and see if we can alarming occurrence to an intelligent, well find this man." mannered boy. Ringing the bell of the So saying, he put on his hat, took his child house to which the area pertained, he by the hand, and set out on what most politely explained matters to the servant who people would have probably considered a answered the door, and she at once descended wild-goose chase. But there was method to recover the shilling for him. She easily in his apparent madness. He knew the ways found it, and was just handing it up when, of life prevailing among such itinerants as lo and behold, a burly figure stepped in chair-caners, and from that knowledge between her and the boy, and a rough voice reasoned-correctly, as the event provedexclaimed, “That's my shilling; let's have it.” that the worthy trio concerned in convey
“ No, sir, it is my shilling," said the boy. ing" the shilling, concluding from there being
"Why, what do you mean, you young no immediate pursuit that they had safely varmint?" answered the intruder, affecting “ bounced” the child out of the money, surprise and virtuous indignation ; “I've just would not go far without proceeding to dropped it, my mates there seed me," and as “melt" it in drink; and thus give him a he spoke he pointed to a man and two women chance of catching them up. He was preof tramping appearance, who stood waiting pared to recognise them from his son's defor him a little in advance. “Come, let's scription of their dress and appearance, and have it," he repeated, and suiting the action he sighted them just as they were coming to the word, he snatched the coin from the out of a public-house, wiping their mouths still upraised hand of the astonished servant, as they came. and hastened to join his companions. To Still holding his child by the hand, our the child whose money he had thus seized, parson friend stepped forward, and, confrontthis ready-witted, prompt-acting spoiler must ing the astonished chair-caner, said—“You have seemed a fearsome-looking creature. have taken a shilling from my little boy, He was big and rough of build, and deter- here ; give it back to him, please.” The mined of look; and his face as well as his chair-mending gang consisted of two men clothing was dust-begrimed and travel-stained. and two women, of the ordinary, hardA sheaf of split cane hanging slantwise across featured, slouching, drabby tramp look. his shoulders stamped him as of the chair- The man, about forty years of age, weathercaning profession, to which trade his two beaten, somewhat bloated, with grizzly beard, companions also belonged. Though fully and altogether unpromising look, was eviimpressed with the unpromising appearance dently taken aback by such moderate language of this man, the little fellow, mustering up being addressed to him in so firm a tone. his courage, boldly followed him up, and with That such an accusation and demand should tears demanded restitution of his shilling. be put in simple, quietly spoken words, was He was met, however, with fiercely uttered an altogether novel experience to him; and threats, under which he was quickly fain to it was some little time before he could screw retreat, weeping as he went for the loss of his his own courage to the blustering point, and money. On his road home he met a police- deny the charge with the explosion of exman whose aid he invoked, but the official pletives, which he deemed necessary to such servant of the law took no notice of his an occasion. complaint.
“Pray don't add lying to dishonesty, my Of this last point he made a special griev- man ; that is making bad very much worse ; ance when, on reaching home, he proceeded you have taken the shilling, and made a little to relate the woeful story of his misadven- | boy very miserable,” carne the reply to this tures to his father. The parent, to the child's outburst of denial. “I can see what the boy astonishment, replied to him on this head, says is true in both your faces. I don't want that he was very glad the policeman had not to harm you, I only want to do you good. taken any notice of him; that he did not You'll be a worse man for to-day's work if believe in policemen meddling with wrong- you don't give him back that shilling.” doers, at least, until every means which “I haven't his shilling, and you'd better Christians should use had been tried. It mind what you're saying, or I'll make you would not be the best way to send the man prove your words,” answered the chair-caner, to prison. “But we won't let the matter still trying, though less successfully than at drop,” he quickly added, seeing his son's first, to assume a tone of virtuous indignalook of disappointment, "you must have tion. your shilling back, if possible, for several “Which is true, my boy or you, can be
easily proved, I think, if you will kindly “Certainly not,” answered our friend with come with me to the house where the shil- an earnestness of repudiation that put the ling was dropped. Will you come? I'm not chair-caner “all abroad," as to whatever going to make a police case of it, I only want manner of man he could be that had got back the shilling.
hold of him. One who “ stuck to him like a “Come! of course I'll come,” answered leech ” for the restoration of misappropriated the man with a swaggering confidence of tone money, and yet thus threw away his most that might have staggered a less shrewd or powerful weapon (for such, according to his experienced observer than our friend. idea, was a threat to "charge” him), was to him
The woman accompanying the chair-caner a startling anomaly. “ It's because I believe was his wife, and at this point, in a most in you that I talk to you, rather than give excited manner, she put in her word. the case to the police.”
“Don't go, Bill,” she exclaimed in genuine “ I would not on any account give you alarm, and with clenched fist, and in some into the hands of the police," went on the what close quarters, was proceeding to pour parson, seeing that his man was for the moout the vials of her wrath upon the perti- ment struck dumb. “You have children to nacious parson, when she was stopped by feed, I dare say, as I have, and I would not an angry and emphatic, “You shut up," rob them and your wife of your labour; they from her husband.
need it, I am sure. I am not following you “Don't blame your wife for believing in up like this for the sake of the shilling, but for you. She doubtless has good cause,” said your sake, your character's sake, your soul's our friend unaffectedly. “But we had better sake. I would give you money if I knew have it to ourselves—come along;” and the you needed it, but to let you go away with man, apparently nothing daunted, defiantly a shilling dishonestly come by would not be flung down his bundle of canes at his wife's kind. It would be doing you an irreparable feet, and at once set out with him; the injury. Sin, my man, goes from little to crowd, that had, of course, gathered around great. If you had got clear with that shil them while they had been speaking, following ling, you would in all likelihood be tempted
way at their heels. His agreeing to at some future time to do something worse. go back had been mere “ bounce" upon the No, my man, you must get back your chachair-caner's part, but the resolute action of racter as an honest man by giving up that shilMr. B. convincing him that he was deal- ling. It's yourself I want to get back, not ing with a man who was not to be “bounced," the shilling.” There was an encouraging he once more changed his plan of defence. pause. Then he continued, “You have They had not gone many yards when, sud- yielded to temptation, and unless you repent denly coming to a standstill, he exclaimed- and make restitution you can never think and now there was a touch of genuine feeling well of yourself again. Come, now, give me in his voice—“Has it come to this, that I back the money; cast it from you as you am called on to prove myself a honest man ? would a curse.” The chair-caner stood conI'll not go. I'm a poor man, but I'm honest, fused and silent, but evidently moved and as honest as you are. What should I go impressed. for?"
To Mr. B. it was clear that he had at It may be so," was the answer; we all length found the good thing in the man. He have our weak points. I sin in one way, felt it, and, guessing at the cause of the acand, maybe, you sin in another; and we cused man's still-continued silence and hesiought never to be ashamed to confess it. tancy, he came to his relief by saying, “ Is It's a cold day. You might be short of it that you haven't got the shilling left; that money. It's easy to keep your hands off you have spent it, I mean?” other people's shillings when you have plenty “Yes, sir,” he answered, with eyes cast of your own, I assure you I want to do you down, and in a voice scarcely above a no harm; I want to prevent you doing your- whisper, " that is how I'm held. We've had self harm. If you have really been an honest a drop of rum apiece.” man till now, and have now suddenly yielded “Well
, I can quite believe you there,” to temptation, that is all the greater reason said Mr. B., "and of course you can't give why I should not let you go till you have up what you no longer possess. Still, for returned the shilling. Come, now, you must your own sake, you must make good the give it back."
shilling. You say you are an honest man; Or else you'll charge me, I suppose ?" and I will take your word for it. Will you said the man questioningly.
take mine that I am one too, and let us
treat each other as honest men? Here is my forgive me . and God. Likewise it was all card "—handing out a card from his case- through. Drink. "give me yours—you have a card with your 1. Remain your Humble Servant, business on, I dare say, and I will trust to
WILLIAM.D.your sending me the shilling by post when
L- Terrace, F you have one to spare.” This card was handed
Road, B--" out, and the exchange duly made. So the It was some years after the occurrence of offer was accepted, and on this understand this little adventure that we heard of it, ing the chair-caner was at length allowed to and felt curious to know how it might have go on his way, with a “Good day," cer- affected the mind and actions of the chairtainuy a sadder, and, as the event proved, a caner. Through the medium of some of the wiser man from his encounter with Mr. B. craft resident in our own district we made The card showed the residence of the man his acquaintance, and finding that though to be ten miles away.
rather gruff, he was an honest, straightforWhen Mr. B. returned home and related ward, sensible fellow, we ventured to broach his adventure, even "those of his own house' the subject of his encounter with Mr. B. were against him. They “wondered” how “Ah," he said, "that gentleman did a good he could be so foolish; put it that the proper day's work that day; if there wos more like and obvious and common-sense thing for him him in the world there would be less of the to have done was either to have let the shil kind that I'd have been by this time if he'd a ling go, or to have given the man into custody; done by me as most would a'done. It was and a really had no patience with him," when as true as I stand here that I had never his boy related the exchange of cards. Out- before touched a penny that wasn't my own. siders—for passers-by stopped at the crowd The man didn't breathe that could have said and heard what was going on and told the a word agen my good name, or my father's story—for the most part laughed the latter afore me; and if I'd have been charged, idea to scorn when they heard of it; and as and my character spoilt, I shouldn't have day after day passed without bringing him cared what I had done after, and I'd have any news of the chair-caner, he was genially been certain to have gone to the bad. But bantered about the evident absurdity of his you see he didn't charge me. Instead of notions that good was to be found in every shoving me deeper into the mire, he lifts me body, even in a thief, if we could only be wise out of the ditch, and puts me in the right and patient enough to get at him. But his road again. And what he done for me that own sight of the better side of the shilling day ain't been thrown away on me, though I stealer's nature, and the success of his say it as shouldn't. I've known what it is to appeal to it, was in nowise shaken by the be short of bread since then, but never to hardness of belief in others. He knew better feel inclined to give way to temptation to be than most others how long it might take so dishonest; and though I don't make any poor a man to make up even a spare shilling, particular perfession, thinking over what he and making due allowance on this head, he said to me has made me more like what I held lovingly, loyally, and hopefully to his know he would like me to be than I should own higher view. At length his faith had have been. Though I didn't think so at the its reward. After a lapse of some weeks a time, it was a blessed job for me that he letter from the chair-caner arrived, enclosing overtook me that day. The poison was a shilling's worth of stamps. With all its beginning to work as you may say, for when imperfections of penmanship and orthography he come up I was just saying how much upon its head, we think this letter is one of easier it was to pick up money the way I'd which any Christian, who had been the just been doing than by tramping about means of drawing it forth, might be proud, looking for work. As the gentleman said, if and we may say for our friend that he is I had got off with that shilling, there is no proud of it, numbering it among the more saying what it would have led to. However, valuable of the honourable trophies of his he did find me, and go where he will there work. The letter is short, and in its sim- will always be one man that will have good plicity will best speak for itself:
cause to say, God bless him.”
That we have recounted this little story at “B
a length that leaves us no room to moralise DEAR. SIR,-i Enclose you one shilling further upon it will be no loss to our readers, worth. of.stamps. and i Humbley beg your as we venture to think that it is a story that Pardon . for What i did. Hoping you Will will sufficiently point its own moral to them.