« PreviousContinue »
of beautifying the earth and making it glad appeared to catch a glow from the dazzling and bright. And now, though their earthly | radiance which surrounds the throne; we glory seems to have departed, they still work noted the deepening, quiet sweetness which on silently for old mother earth, enriching breathed in every look and tone, the lingerin their turn the soil from which they had ing tenderness, as of one loath to say, "fareonce drawn their nourishment, reminding us well,” the bright hope and eager anticipaof the “works” which “follow” God's tion, as of one yearning to arise and go forth sweet saints even after they have been re- to meet the Friend whom their soul loved moved from the earth, when the holy beyond all others. We saw this, and we knew example set by them still lingers in the we could not keep them ; we felt we could memory, exercising a softened and blessed not ask it, they were so ready to go; but we influence on many a heart that had loved thanked God we had been permitted to see them in life, and now, parted from them, seeks how perfect is the work He can accomplish to walk in their steps even unto death. in the soul that yields itself up to Him, to be
So the thoughts suggested by “seared moulded, by whatever means He pleases, leaves” in autumn are not altogether sad into a likeness to Himself, and we thought, ones: they have reached maturity; they are if such a glory rested on them here, how fulfilling their destiny; the fulness of their great, how unutterable must be the glory present time is come; they appear clothed in which remains to be revealed. a softened beauty, a new glory, as if prepar- Sorrowfully we acknowledged that a great ing for some fairer world, in which their old gulf separated us from them—we were sober garb would be unsuitable; and then they immeasurably behind them ; but we rememfade, and in due time disappear from sight, bered how in them the ripening and perfectquietly laying their heads down upon the ing had been a gradual process, and we“ took bosom of the earth which had given them courage” as we reflected, that though we now birth. And if we compare human life to the stood covered with the dust of summer, yet for falling leaf, our theory still holds good as to us, too, one day might come the autumn with the higher beauty which often seems to flash its mellowing touch, when our dull commonout with a burst of glory just before it is place lives, our cold hearts, our almost dead about to be extinguished. Who among us faith might ripen, and expand, and grow does not remember some aged face that stands beautiful in the genial warmth of the golden out in our recollection, crowned with that sunshine, putting on the bright hues of firm “crown of glory” which surrounds the “hoar trust, and undimmed hope, and calm rejoichead” when it is found in the way of right- ing. This might be, even in us, if only we eousness, seeming to reflect heaven's peace in held closely to the Living Branch, from the calm depths of the tranquil eyes, on the whence the true life flows, and did not suffer withered but yet unruffled brow, in the ourselves to be swayed to and fro, or swept sweet gentle smile that wreathed the lips so away altogether by the rough blast. soon to be clothed in death? Ah, how we For Nature teaches us that such a thing is loved the silvered head and the pure pale possible : there are some “seared leaves" face, beautiful in the beauty of holiness, that, unlike those we have been describing, which, working within, seemed to break and never reach maturity, but are scorched by the shine forth without, like a faint reflection of blazing sun, or nipped by the biting wind, or our Lord's Transfiguration glory, when, as droop for lack of moisture, and so fall before one says, it was “as if the pent-up grace their time, withered and dried up, when in within wrought mightily upon the earthen the course of nature they should be green and vessel which contained it."
full of life. They remind us of some lives We felt as we looked on them that we we know, that seem blighted, marred, and should not keep them long with us : they useless ; lives thrown away, as it were, for seemed too ripe for glory to be left for any they fulfil none of the purposes for which lengthened period here; they were like the existence was given. They have suffered golden ear of corn ready to burst, and only themselves to be nipped and shrivelled by waiting to be gathered in. Sweet and lovely the cold winds of adversity, and have reas, perhaps, they had always been, a new and mained crushed and listless, so absorbed more chastened beauty adorned them now, as with their own woes as to have no eyes for day by day they lived more in heaven and those of other people. Living to themselves, less upon earth. The mellow glory of autumn turning from their fellows, meeting their adsunshine seemed to fall upon them now; their vances with suspicion, repelling their proffaces, which had so long been set heavenwards, fered friendship with haughty indifference,
they live their lonely, unlovely lives-cum- into the inner sanctuary, their lot may seem bering the earth instead of seeking to enrich lonely and solitary, tame and joyless. and beautify it.
To such as these comes the glory of the How different from what they might have autumnal sunshine, shedding its tender light been, from what they were meant to be! over them, ripening their fruit, casting a How different from those in childlike radiance over each failing leaf, making even submissiveness, when God takes from them decay itself beautiful, as it whispers that it is their choice treasures bow their meek heads but the laying aside of the outer garment in uncomplaining silence; and even when He preparatory to the putting on of a more comes again and again calling for yet greater glorious one; the prelude to a new life soon sacrifices, and saying, “My child, I take from to be entered upon, a life of beauty and of thee the joy of thine heart, the desire of joy, full, perfect, complete, in a land where thine eyes,” still respond in broken accents, all is genial sunshine, and cold winds or “Even so, Father ; let it be even as Thou biting frosts are unknown. wilt," and try to raise their drooping head Let us pause here and ask the question, and look upward through the blinding mist How will it be with ourselves? Will the of tears towards the rift in the clouds behind autumn of life for us be thus beautiful ? Will which the Sun of Righteousness is shining. the close of our days on earth, come when Even as they do so the healing rays fall upon it may, be marked by a visible ripening for them; warmth from the bright glow steals glory? If, sadly and sorrowfully, as we look into their hearts, the gentle touch of the into our lives, we are forced to own that we great Healer's hand is already upon them, can find there as yet no signs of such a the keenness of the blast is tempered, close, let us not lose heart, but humbly set strength takes the place of weakness; instead ourselves to make the most of the time yet of drooping like the withered leaf, which remaining to us, filling our days with kindly hangs so sad a spectacle amidst the living deeds and acts of service, living no longer to ones around it, they seem to put on new life, ourselves but to Him who created us for His to renew their vigour ; a higher, nobler exist- own glory, and has set us here to show forth ence dawns upon them; they go forth to His praises. Only let us remember that our comfort others with “ the comfort wherewith own unassisted efforts are vain and fruitless. they themselves have been comforted;" to As the leaf cannot grow of itself without the forget, or rather to put aside, their own help of external influences, so neither can sorrows in seeking to share those of others; we, unaided, form within ourselves one life for them has a fuller meaning and flows in single virtue, or check one single vice. The a deeper channel; it is a richer, sweeter, power is alone of God, who worketh in us, more satisfying thing than they had before both to will and to do of His good dreamed it could be, even though, perhaps, pleasure." in the eyes of outsiders, who cannot pierce
L. C. SILKE.
AN ANGEL UNAWARE.
(A TRUE INCIDENT.) WITH sad sick heart, along the dusty road Before me stood a child with shy, grave look, I took my way;
And wistful air.
I see her still—her torn frock, gentle face,
And soft brown hair.
I could not tell who the sweet maid might be,
Nor whence she came,
For I had never looked on her before,
Nor heard her name.
Red sorrel too,
With grasses that had blossomed in the sun,
And harebells blue.
Then, all at once the world to me seemed kind, Dark loving eyes,
The green earth dear,
The radiant air quick with the breath of God-
The heaven quite near.
SOME NOBLE OLD ENGLISH GENTLEWOMEN.
" PAPERS FOR THOUGHTFUL GIRLS."
ON a July day, three hundred and thirty and who were alike zealous Catholics, figured witnessed at Smithfield. Blood flowed like comprehension of ordinary experience, that water in England during the reign of Henry the young girl who as a woman forsook those VIII. Noble names were covered with ranks, and stood all but alone of her kindred infamy. Two Queens laid down their heads in the maintenance of what she held to be a on the cold pillow of the block. Witnesses purer faith, may have had her youthful for what they knew of the truth" glorified sympathies engaged on behalf of the party God in the fires,” not in London alone but who naturally regarded themselves as perseat many a county town market cross, and cuted, with their altars profaned, their venebefore many a remote rural church through-rable creed denied, their noble Chancellor out the length and breadth of the land. But and their good Bishop martyrs, and their in few instances did so many features of unfortunate Queen insulted on her deathinterest and pathos meet as in the case of bed and in her grave. Anne Ascue. She was a woman, young, Anne may have helped with her girlish beautiful, and witty, of a character so un- fingers to work such a banner, bearing a stained that the worst reproach her enemies representation of the Cross and the five could cast upon her was, that she refused to wounds of the Lord, to be carried by the return to the husband whom she had been Kelsay men, as Emily Norton was commanded compelled to marry, who had driven her by her father to embroider for the Rylstone from him without mercy, who abandoned band, and without the reluctance of Emily, her to her deadly foes, and as far as we can who in company with her brother Francis, find, never stirred hand or foot to save her. in response to the teaching of a dead mother, She was gently born and gently bred, confessed in earliest girlhood another faith learned in a generation which produced such from that of her doomed house. Eventually scholarly women as Queen Elizabeth and the Lincolnshire rising melted away of itself Lady Jane Grey, cultured with the refine through the politic mercy of the King, who, ment of a court, and withal she seems to acting on sagacious advice, promised secretly have been a true woman in her godliness, an amnesty to the insurgents who should wisdom, and constancy, warm tempered to return quietly to their homes. Only a few rashness, frank, generous, indignant at base of the leaders joined the northern Catholics ness, faithful unto death.
who were up in arms and were not so easily England was in the inoral and religious dispersed. Thus the insurrection brought chaos of the first days of the Reformation no devastation to Anne's home or ruin to when Anne Ascue was growing up in her her prospects. father's house at Kelsay, doubtless one of We have no dates for the next important the lonely moated granges of Lincolnshire. event in Anne Ascue's personal history which By the time she was a girl of fifteen, in 1536, has been handed down to us; but all the the same year which witnessed within twelve indirect evidence tends to show that it must months the death of the repudiated Queen have occurred when she was a young girlKatherine and the execution of her rival early matured, as times of trouble ripen before Anne Boleyn, the Reformation was so un- their day both men and women.
I quote mistakable a reality, and had already from Fuller, who gives the chief and very abounded in such disastrous consequences suggestive details of her earlier history ; he to the Roman Catholics, that there was a again relies on the authority of Bayle for his rising against it in Anne's own county of narrative. “A match was made by the Lincoln. A priest disguised as a cobbler power of their parents betwixt Mr. Kyme led a great body of men after him. The his son in Lincolnshire, and Sir William gentry of the shire were drawn into the Ashcough his eldest daughter, who chanced current and forced to join the insurrection. to die before the completing thereof. Sir It is hardly a matter of question that Sir William, loth to lose so rich an heir, and William Ascue and the family of the Kymes, having payed part of her portion, for lucre's to whom Anne's future husband belonged, sake, compelled this Anne, his second daughter, to supply her sister's place and to scripture and the bone of contention over marry against her own will and consent. which both factions in Church and State were Notwithstanding, the marriage once past, she fiercely wrangling. In 1538 the Bible was demeaned herself like a Christian woman published in English with the King's warrant and bore him two children.”
that all his subjects might read it, and inAll that we learn of Anne Ascue after-structions were issued to incumbents to set vards goes far to corroborate this account. it up publicly in church where people were Even when a girl she could hardly have been to be encouraged to go and study for themso yielding, soft natured, or weak minded, as selves the Word of Life.* And we know to be a mere tool in the hands of those she from her own examination that Anne was in was still bound to love and reverence. She the practice at a later period of repairing to had a will and a mind of her own. Every a church—the Minster at Lincoln—and readtrait that is represented of her indicates a ing the Bible there. high-spirited, lively, independent woman. However, it was not in Lincolnshire alone She was likely enough to have felt a strong that Anne Ascue came in contact with the recoil from marrying the plighted husband great charter of the Reformation, and with of her dead sister, even if Anne's feelings men and women who braved every danger to were not complicated by disgust at the mer- ascertain for themselves—or by the help of cenary motive of the union, or by any other their better educated neighbours who read inclination on her part. Her objections aloud the principal passages in dispute—the might not be removed, even in her Roman will of God with respect to the laws that Catholic days, by the Holy Father's dispensa- govern the Church and the world. Every tion—not difficult to procure on the part of account of Anne refers to her having been such good Catholics as the Ascues and often at Court, where there was the most Kymes. On the other hand Anne Ascue powerful reformed party, including the heads was so upright and reasonable, it is not hard of such houses as Suffolk, Hertford, and to conceive that having been induced to Lisle, and latterly the Queen Katherine Parr, make the sacrifice of her inclinations, possibly who were sure to welcome eagerly, and enof her judgment—with what suffering and courage with all their might, the first symphumiliation she alone could tell—she was toms of Anne Ascue's conversion to the new ready to do her best to fulfil her part of the views. Naturally in the hand-to-hand conobligation she had incurred.
flict, fresh adherents were coveted by both It is impossible to ascertain whether Anne's sides ; and to the reformed side among the turning to the reformed faith began before or nobility and gentry there must have been after her marriage, or whether absolutely no peculiar pride and satisfaction in such a other member of her family—the sister who testimony to the truth of their cause, as the died young, or any other person in the two winning over of Anne Ascue with all her gifts households of her maiden and matron life, and attractions, and in full recognition of the shared her leanings. Taking Fuller in the circumstances which gave such point to the order of his tale, it was after her marriage victory, that she came from the very inner that Anne Ascue, in his expressive words, citadel of the enemy, since her kindred and “fell off from all papistrie;" for it is subse- antecedents were Catholic of the Catholics. quent to the account just given that he says, In exact proportion to the exultation and " In process of time, by oft reading of the rejoicing were likely to be the mortification sacred Bible, she clearly fell from all papistrie" and wrath of the camp which Anne had to a perfect belief in Jesus Christ.” Whether deserted. Accordingly we find they were or not her personal sorrows had led to the impelled to desperate measures. All the better choice and she had been driven, like Reformers' accounts of Anne agree in recordmany a man and woman before and after her, ing, that on account of her adoption of the by the unrest and dispeace of her own heart reformed doctrines she was driven out of her and home to thirst for the rest and peace husband's house and disowned by her nearest which remain with God, it is certain she had relations. Fuller says that it was at the sugthe opportunity from the time she was seven- gestion of the priests that her husband took teen years of age of studying the Bible in her the violent step which, re-acting as it did on mother tongue. And a girl of so quick and Anne's high spirit and determination of purfine an intellect, even if no higher and more pose, proved the means of severing the bond human needs moved her, was sure to avail between them. Fuller writes, “And she on herself of the chance of mastering for herself the volume which was at once the canon of VII. N.S.
this occasion sought from the law a divorce, But Anne was tempted to treat the reand because of his cruel usage would not membrance of the scene with scorn. For in return to him again, thinking herself free from answer to an inquiry if there was not one that uncomely kind of co-acted marriage by that did speak unto her, put by Bonner, the doctrine of St. Paul, “But if the un- Bishop of London-doubtless with some imbelieving depart let him depart: a brother or patience, perhaps with a little amusement, if sister is not under bondage in such cases: Mr. Froude is right in attributing a coarse, But God hath called us to peace.
good humour to the prelate in the middle I am not aware that the Roman Catholics of his grievous offences against justice and denied Anne Ascue's expulsion from her charity-Anne says, “I told him yes; that husband's house; but from the language there was one of them at last who did speak used by Fuller, as well as from the reproaches to me, indeed. And my lord then asked me addressed to her by the Roman Catholic his- what he said ? and I told him his words were torian, Parsons, for refusing to return to her of small effect, so that I did not now rehusband, and repudiating him to the extent member them.” of declining to use his name, it would seem Who does not see the strange scene? that Mr. Kyme, relenting in his harshness or There rose the grand old Minster with its better advised by his councillors, had made stately nave and aisles in “ dim religious some vain efforts to induce his wife to come light.” There knelt and stood the motley back to him. Her obduracy in this matter company of worshippers—the rigid upholders is the single personal accusation that the most of the old religion, the ignorant country folks foul-mouthed of her adversaries—and dis- bewildered by all these changes, and in their putants were specially foul-mouthed in these scared trouble not knowing well what to be terrible times—appear to have brought against lieve; the wiser, more spiritually-minded men her. The worst thing her foes could say and women able to lay hold of the anchor in of Anne Ascue was that she left her husband the flood, to cleave to it, even to awaken to at home and went gadding to “gospel and a trembling gladness that it was being stripped gossip it at Court, always subscribing herself of its various disguises and impeding integunot by her married, but her maiden surname.” | ments, and who were watching with secret
It must have been after her separation from sympathy and admiration, not unmixed with her husband that the striking incident hap- terror, the crisis impending. And the usual pened at Lincoln, which Anne herself is made gathering must have been swollen by curito relate in the course of one of her repeated ous spectators, empty-hearted and emptyexaminations. She had been told by her headed gossips trooping in merely to gape friends that if she came to Lincoln the priests open-mouthed and to be qualified to chatter would assault her and put her to great of the threatened encounter between the pertrouble, “as thereof they had made their plexed priests and the bold lady. There boast.” To quote her own dauntless words, were the black and white-robed figures clus“When I heard it, I went thither indeed, not tering in the aisles, arresting each other, being afraid, because I knew my matter to be whispering vehemently, casting fiery or sneergood. Moreover I remained there nine days, ing glances at their extraordinary antagonist to see what would be said unto me. And as while they passed her, promenading “ by two I was in the Minster reading upon the Bible, and two, by five and by six," as she has they resorted unto me by two and two, by described them; yet somehow unable to five and by six, minding to have spoken unto nerve themselves for the ordeal which some me, yet went they their ways again without of them had confidently anticipated, but words speaking."
which to many of them must have had an We may surely trust that among these element of the ridiculous-not the least em" three score priests”—with regard to whom barrassing and mortifying element to their their Bishop of Lincoln had proved an active pride of challenging the one young woman persecutor of those who favoured the Lutheran who thus dared to defy them. Above all, doctrines—met together against the heretical there was the prominent central figure, still woman in the cathedral, there were some slender in youthful proportions, in veil, and whose manliness shrank from attacking a ruff, and farthingale-never stirring from the woman, and their courtesy from assaulting a reading-desk, where lay chained the great lady, even as there were others whose baser book in its oaken boards, its velvet cover, spirits quailed before a loftier spirit, and and jewelled clasps. One little hand traced whosé doubts of the honesty of their cause persistently the black letter, while the face shut their mouths.
which men called fair, and which must have