Page images

best to be a good wife to him, only it were mon servant-girl,” said Leah humbly, “and hard, Miss Di, never to see my own mother, he only used to make game o' me; so it ’ud and her frettin', and sendin' me scornful be no use me sayin' anythin', even if I knew messages, as if I felt myself too grand to go how. But you're a lady, and he thinks all and see her. Can you ever forgive me, the world o' you.” Miss Di?”

It cost Leah a pang to own this in so " I forgive you if there is anything for me many words. Though she had risked her to forgive," answered Diana, and moved by life for Richard Herford, and was willing to a sudden impulse of compassion and grief devote it to his service, he thought nothing she stopped and kissed Leah's pale face, of her; whilst he thought all the world of which flushed with momentary pleasure. Diana, who had never given to him a mo“Get up, Leah,” she added, " and sit down ment's care. She could not explain it to here beside me. We have a good deal to herself. Richard Herford had never been talk about. My brother Captain Lynn and I like Justin, who seemed to belong altogether have been thinking what can be done for you.” to another sphere than hers. Richard had

"Don't do nothin' for me," she said, always chosen to associate with people like earnestly; "it's my fault as you are not livin' himself

. Then how was it that he could still with your father, and takin' care of him. think so much of Diana, and find merely a I deserve to be punished; and uncle Fosse, subject of ridicule in her own devotion and and me, we thought you might let me be love to him? servant."

“And oh! Miss Di,” she continued, “his No, no,” interrupted Diana, "we must mother can't comfort him, no more than me. not let our father's widow go into service.” She sits, and cries, and wails by his bedside,

“ Listen only a minute," urged Leah, and never says a word to cheer him up. “We “servant to Master Dick ; his nurse, you shall have to live all the rest of our days in know. I was afraid you wouldn't

, perhaps, this hole,' she says, 'there's no more company let me be, because I know I'm Leah Lynn for us, and no pleasure in life. I'm a misernow--old Squire Lynn's wife. But I'd able woman,' she says. Sometimes Master never call myself by his name, and I'd never, Dick pretends to be asleep, when he hears never speak as if I'd belonged to you, if lier come in. 'Leah,' he said, last night, you'd only give your consent to mé bein'' what have I done to bring my father's servant to Master Dick. He'll want some- curses on me? Justin says he took them off body faithful now that he'll never set his before he died, but they've overtaken me all foot to the floor again ; and I'd rather wait on the same. I made him miserable, and now him than be the finest lady in the land. It I'm miserable. Even my mother looks on will be a hard thing to have old Mrs. Herford me as a burden.' “You're no burden to for a mistress, after I've been on a level with me, Master Dick,' I said; 'I love to wait on her, and been her visitor, and I know she'll you.' But it was no good; he only groaned make it as bad as bad can be; but I'll put deeper than ever ; and I heard him callin', up with it, I will indeed, Miss Di. Master Oh, God! oh, God!' like a child that's lost Justin, he'd be satisfied his poor brother was its way, and is callin' for its mother." well done by, as long as I was about him." Leah hid her face in her hands, weeping

“I'm sure he would be, Leah,” said Diana. bitterly; and Diana wept too. It was pitiful “He groans and mourns all day long, and to them both to think of Richard Herford all night, too,” continued Leah, with tears suddenly struck down in his full vigour; but in her eyes, “it almost breaks my heart to Diana's grief and pity were nothing to hear him. Oh, God! oh, God !” he cries, Leah's. hundreds and hundreds o' times. And I'm “What I want to ask," resumed Leah, "is no scholar like you; and I'm not in favour to be only his nurse, Leah Dart, just as if I'd wi' God, like uncle Fosse. He isn't any never called myself anythin' else. I know you scholar, but he speaks as if God told him and Captain Lynn, and the rest, have a right the very words he ought to say. I never to settle what I ought to do, because I was know what to say to Master Dick, and I can your father's wife; but folks will forget all do nothin' to comfort him, only smoothin' that by-and-by. It was a silly blunder o' his pillow, and fetchin' him somethin' to eat mine, and I'm rightly punished for it. I'm or drink. If you'd come and see him! He young and strong, and I might take care of thinks all the world o' you."

Master Dick as long as he lives. Oh, my "I'll come gladly," replied Diana. dear Miss Di, he'll need somebody very true "I know I'm nothin' better than a com- and patient to take care of him. The doctors

say by-and-by, may-be not for some years Leah went back to Rillage Grange with a yet, but the mischief 'ill creep up to his head, lightened heart. She knew very well that a and he'll be quite silly, like a poor idiot. dreary life lay before her; and that the service He'll need somebody to love him very faith- she had entered upon would be a hard one. ful, then ; and there's nobody in the world Not for her would there be any of the combut me.

Other folks might be cruel to him; mon joys and sorrows of her own class; and it breaks my heart already to think he no small, quiet home of her own ; neither might be badly dealt by. Perhaps it's the husband nor child. She had forfeited all work God has set for me; I'd like to think these; and in their place was allotted to it was,

it 'd be so kind of Him. If I could her a life of constant care and weariness; only fancy God was sayin', ' Leah, you take sleepless nights and anxious days. Yet she care of this poor Master Dick for Me,' I felt glad, she hardly knew why. Her path could keep on for hundreds o' years. That by the cliffs led her past the almost hidden ’ud give me all the help I want.”

cove where she had faced death, while “ Leah,” said Diana, taking her large red choosing to remain faithful to Richard Herhand between her own, “I believe God has ford. set you this work to do. It will be a great With slow and cautious steps she felt her sacrifice for you, my poor girl; but I believe way to the summit of the precipice, and you can do it.

Yes, you shall take care of lying down, stretched her head over the edge him if you will."

to catch a glimpse of the strip of sand far “You'll let me be Master Dick's servant!" below her. The waves were running in upon exclaimed Leah.

it, curling and rippling in the sunshine, as if “With all my heart; it's a noble thing to playing with one another ; but none the less do," answered Diana. “Did you never hear steadily creeping over it, and stealthily fillwhat Jesus said, “Whosoever is chief among ing up all means of escape from it

. If she you, let him be your servant; even as the had forsaken her charge, and left Richard Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, Herford there in his unconsciousness, death but to minister, and to give His life a ransom would have been certain. Thank God ! she for many?' You are choosing wisely now, had kept true. Leah.”

But as Leah went on her way, slowly and “I don't know much about Him," she thoughtfully, it seemed to her that the doom said, with kindling eyes, “but it's somethin' stealthily creeping onwards upon Richard like what Uncle Fosse says. Do you mean Herford was like the treacherous tide she that Jesus Christ was like a servant, a real had been gazing on from the perilous standservant, doin' real work that was beneath point. Slowly it might corne, but there was Him? Not makin' believe to work like no escape from it. No love or pity could grand folks do. I never thought of that save him. It would be her lot to watch its before. I wish I had, before I began to wish inroads and encroachments; to sit by, and to be a lady. I'll think about that when I see him sinking into helpless imbecility. grow tired and low. And I'll keep myself For the hours she had waited under the under to Mrs. Herford, however aggravatin' cliffs for deliverance, there would be years she is. If I could only be a right good to wait for the only deliverance that could woman at last, I'd put up with anythin'. come to release Richard Herford. Could Jesus Christ doin'real work that was beneath she remain all those years beside him ? Him! Oh, Miss Di, what a foolish woman “God keep me true!” cried Leah in her I have been !"

inmost heart.



“For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time

and then vanisheth away."-Jas. iv. 14.

OUR life is but

a light and fleeting vapour That melts before the broadening of the day ; 'Tis like the shadows up the hill-side creeping

A dream that quickly vanisheth away.

But shall this thought be cause to us of sorrow,

Or fill our heart with a regretful grief?
Shall it cast darkness on the coming morrow,

To know this human life is all so brief?

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

What! shall we grow all mad and wild and reckless, A vapour! Yes; but 'tis not therefore worthless. Ready to utter this despairing cry,

Vapour condensed is changed into the steam “Come, take thine ease, soul; eat, drink, and be merry, Which sends the vessel o'er the trackless ocean, For on the morrow we are sure to die ” ?

And drives with speed the sounding iron team.

No! never! Such a thought will rather urge us

To work with both hands earnestly for God; We will be up and doing in His service,

If we so soon must lie beneath the sod.

If life be briet, we will be more in earnest,

And work for God with all our soul and might; Running with girded loins the race before us,

Fighting with all our strength the noble fight.

A vapour ? Yes; but let us all remember

The vapour gives its beauty to the air ;
It drapes the skies in crimson, blue, and amber,
And shapes itself in fleecy cloudlets, bright and

So, when to heaven is drawn the earthly vapour,

And we are called to stand before the throne, The Master's smile shall form our happy guerdon, And we shall hear Him say,


“Well done! well done!”


Ets Story of Struggle and Triumph.

says he,

[ocr errors]

IV.—THE TIMES OF JOHN WICKLIFFE. OUR UR great king Alfred died in 901 A.D., I to reclaim the ancient liberties of the people.

and between him and John Wickliffe, A ruined altar still exists on the site of the the first translator of the Bible into English, ruins of St. Edmund's Abbey, in Suffolk, there intervened nearly five hundred years. where the barons swore to make King John Wickliffe died in 1384, and had only com- observe the Charter of England's liberties. pleted his work about 1383. It is Anderson On his refusal forty-four barons in their coats who remarks that, “ It is impossible to have of mail, on their noble war-horses, sura full idea of the phalanx of talent, policy, rounded by their knights and servants, and and power that were arrayed against the in- about two thousand soldiers, occupied Lontroduction of the Bible into the kingdom of don, and in 1215 obtained the famous England in our native tongue, therefore,” Magna-Charta at Runnymede. The Pope

no reader has ever had put before declared it null and void, and ascribed the him the irresistible energy of the Divine word conduct of the barons to Satan himself. But which overcame them all.”

an accident shortly afterwards caused the The judges, priests, and rulers of the land death of King John through drunkenness and were raging at it. The thought of a Bible in fright; and none were found to sorrow for English filled them with alarm and indigna- so vile a prince. “From his reign,” says tion. They said, Is the gospel pearl to be D'Aubigné, “ England may date her enthucast abroad and trodden under foot of swine? siasm for liberty and her dread of Popery." The jewei of the Church will be turned into Meanwhile, though Heathenism and the the common sport of the people. At the Papacy still fought side by side for the mainCouncil of Toulouse, in 1229, a canon had tenance of the dark ages in Europe, such been passed to forbid the laity even to possess annals as those of "Iona” show that the any of the books of the Old or New Testament, students of God's word were many in priviexcept, perhaps, the psalter; and the transla- leged and quiet centres, and that those who tion even of that was strictly forbidden. could read it, taught it; also that persecution

But in the face of all this, and far more, and captivity only scattered the light the Wickliffe began his loving task, and with his more widely. eyes open to the prejudices of a world, When Louis the Feeble-so named in conwhen about twenty-four years of age he had trast to his warlike brother Charlemagne the found salvation for himself in the Holy Great-sent Anschar, a mission-student from Scriptures, and he resolved to make the way Westphalia, to Jutland and to Sweden, he known to others. Being a learned man, found in those countries many slaves, whom master of Baliol College, Oxford, and also the sea-kings had brought home from their madie chaplain to King Edward III., he wars with the Germans, Gauls, and Britons, availed himself of his academic position to and who had carried into the families they expound his views. He said, “The word of served, the seeds of Christ's gospel; and the Lord was as a fire in his bones, and he Anschar witnessed that these seeds had could not refrain.” The state of things already sprung, so as to cause Biorn, the around him called forth all his energies. King of Sweden, to send to King Louis for After the gleam of light made by King , a missionary. Alfred's reign, it seems that thick darkness In the interval elapsing between the Norsettled down over Britain. Many Anglo-man Conquest and King Edward III., the Saxon kings ended their days in monasteries, Anglo-Saxon language had gradually fallen the celibacy of priests was established by a out of use, while the English was rising into Bull from the Pope at the end of the tenth it. The Anglo-Saxon versions of the Gospels century, convents were multiplied, and the reposed unsought in libraries, and numbers tax of Peter's Pence extorted by the Pontiff, of copies of separate portions had perished, till the craven King John, in 1213, laid his either from use or in a season of panic, or crown at the legate's feet, and surrendered his had been injured by their places of concealkingdom to the Pope as his lord paramount. ment, and many more were burned. Never

It would have been wonderful indeed if theless, in looking back upon our English this had not called forth a national protest, origin, whether Celtic or Saxon, or both, VII. N.S.


modified by Danish and Norman, it is our mendicant friars, and was called “the Gospel peculiar characteristic that we bear signs of Doctor," and his followers “Gospellers.” being the people of a book which we believe The friars had been called into existence by Divine; and even when that Book was little the Pope, to ferret out and crush and scatter spread amongst us as to individual pos- the little bands of Bible readers who had session, and when power over us as a nation secretly become separatists from the Roman was usurped by a Church whose principle it Church. was to hide the Book from the common Imagine, then, the England of that day, people, there was still a thirst for it and a with Scotland and Ireland also, covered receptiveness of what it taught, and a kind of with monasteries, and swarming with friars. reverence ready for it, not found among the Dressed in robes of black, white, and grey, Greek and Latin races. No human Book with a wallet at their back, they begged with had been forced upon us in its stead, as in piteous air from high and low, but at the same India, or Persia, or Arabia, and we had, as time had great houses of their own, and Saxons, been long in association with a costly clothes, jewels, and treasures. They kindred Gothic race, for whom it was trans- would kidnap children from their parents lated much earlier than for us--in the fourth and shut them up in monasteries. century, by Ulphilas, whose Christian parents Wickliffe at one time being ill, four of them were from Cappadocia, in near neighbour- and four aldermen came to his sick-chamber, hood to Galatia, in both which districts the asking if he would recant his opinions. He Apostle Paul himself had founded Churches. bade his servants raise him in his bed, This family were kidnapped by their country and exclaimed, “I shall not die, but live, men, the heathen Goths, and carried to their and again declare the evil deeds of the settlements on the Danube. Besides his friars." He saw that they trampled the Bible Gothic mother-tongue, Ulphilas was instructed under foot, and he resolved that the people in Greek and Latin. He became a presbyter of England should have the Bible and comor bishop, which in those early times meant pare it with the voice of the friars. “For the same thing, and escaped from a bloody why,” said he, “should not every man's persecution to the foot of the Hæmus Moun- guide be in every man's hand ?" tains, where he remained until his death. He But there were mighty struggles to be translated the whole Bible, except the Books made with the Rome that, pagan or papal, of Kings, which he thought it prudent to had ruled for thirteen hundred years in our omit, as he said "his countrymen were too islands, before the English people gained fond of fighting already, and needed, in that their freedom to read the Word of God. matter, the bit rather than the spur." Wickliffe had many enemies. They called

Ulphilas was born 318 A.D., and died 388. him “the organ of the devil, the mirror of He led a holy life, and laboured for years to hypocrisy ;" and after his death they even convert his people from the worship of Thor “ransacked his grave for his body and bones," and Woden, into which most of them had which they burned, and cast away the ashes. fallen, in Scandinavia; and they said of him, But that was because his doctrines had “Whatever Ulphilas does is well done." spread so fast that it was said, “You could

His Gothic translation was the parent not meet two people on the road but one of language of a free Bible-of many free Bibles, them was a disciple of John Wickliffe.” -during the long tyranny of Papal Rome, Amid all the difficulties of writing at that and it was the great preparation for the after day the copies made were so many that it influence of Columba from Iona on the was said of them, “Every cow has its calf.” Northern nations. “ Nothing like that in- Portions were everywhere eagerly bought and fluence has now been known for more than read. The dread laws passed in the fifteenth a thousand years," says the Duke of Argyll; century against heretics were able, indeed, to " and Christianity is still spreading, mainly by suppress open profession of Lollard doctrines; the emigration of the nations who were con- but still men read in secret, and in trials for verted then." But to return to Wickliffe. heresy we hear of humble mechanics, who met

There often arose, here and there, a man at dead of night to hear the Word of God from who was a “reformer before the Reforma- tattered fragments of Wickliffe's Gospels. tion," and who was determined to bring to This great reformer did not himself die a light Holy Scripture, so long kept in the martyr, but many of his followers did. John dark, and to restore its lost authority. Such Bradby, one of Wickliffe's disciples, in 1410 especially was John Wickliffe. He first was carried to Smithfield, and there in a cask became famous for his disputes with the burnt to ashes. Already lamed by the fire,

« PreviousContinue »