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spent their money in the purchase of luxurious articles of food, and would enjoy them secretly. If the husband drank spirits, they either helped him, or took their dram in private. More than one family had actually to sell their household goods in order to pay the baker; as for their little ones, they were sent out to beg, and it was very evident that the number of such would soon increase.
* And had they all become so wicked ? ' you ask, dear reader. I can reply with joy, amidst much compassion for the many victims of drunkenness, gambling, and crime, No, not all. More than one man had by his side a true, loving, pious wife, who opened his eyes in time, and was like his guardian angel amidst the perils of life. The pastor of the parish had been a true shepherd to his flock, and, in many cases, had restored the prodigal son to his father's house. There were, indeed, some families on whom God's blessing seemed to rest in an especial manner, and earnestly did such weep and pray that the curse of the destroyer might be removed, and wanderers rescued from the abyss which opened wide at their feet.
* And is the baker become a prosperous man?' you ask. I reply, ' Can the ruin of the honest and industrious, the broken heart of the miserable mother, of the injured wife, or of sorrowful old parents, bring a blessing?' No, indeed, it is contrary to the word of God to expect that a blessing would rest on such a man.
Is it possible that he who brought desolation to so many hearts and homes, who sowed tares with sinful diligence in the furrows, that he who had the tears and sighs of so many an unhappy one on his conscience, is it possible, I say, that he himself should have been happy or prosperous ? Ask your own hearts and your own experience, and they will answer, and so must 1—No, assuredly not.
By degrees the baker grew idle and gave up work, for he must play cards with his guests. Yes, he must teach them the games which they did not understand, and then, perhaps, there was a little liquor left in this and that glass which was not worth saving-he could not save it, so either he or his wife drank it. If he played at cards with the company it was of course needful that, as their host, he should drink with them; and moderation was not a law at his table. It was the same with him as with the rest; it tasted good and better every day, and he became a drunkard, as well as his wife. She was often intoxicated before night, and he always in the evening. I need scarcely tell you how his household affairs went on.
Crime is sure to bring its evil consequences. All his loans and the long credit he gave entangled him in a law-suit; this law-suit he lost. Misfortune after misfortune pursued him. His wretched wife died early; for such a life as she had led is seldom a long one.
He fell into worse and more dissipated habits, and every day sank lower in degradation. The spirits which he had drawn so freely, were obtained on borrowed money; for although he had money in hand, he did with it as I have already told you. He gathered in his debts in every possible manner, and the distiller in the town, who was his greatest creditor, had long patience with him, in consideration of his late excellent custom, keeping, however, a sharp eye on his house and property; for he was acquainted with some respectable persons in the village who were well aware of the value of the baker's possessions, and until he exceeded that value he did not stop him. One morning, however, the bellman went through the village, announcing the sale of the baker's house and goods. Some people shook their heads, and said, "Is it possible?' But others replied, " It is only wonderful to us that the matter was not brought to an end before.'
The notary came on the same day, and the whole concern was offered at a very low price. Why will not you become a purchaser? was asked of more than one man of substance and respectability. • We dare not,' was the reply, 'for God's curse rests upon it.'
The baker returned with his family to his native town, where, in a short time, he died, in miserable poverty, of the dropsy, a common disease with great drunkards.
The children, but for the compassion of some relations, who took charge of them, would have been beggars and vagrants, or, perhaps, something worse. Another public house was established in the same place, but it did not succeed very well. The owner did not understand the business as his predecessor had done. The drinkers, indeed, remained faithful to the house, but poverty, misery, and sickness, had carried off a great many of the peasants, and the new owner had so overrated the value of his customers, that he was unable to obtain even a livelihood. The hamlet was going down in all ways, and almost every family was distracted; crimes multiplied daily, as the old men had foreseen, and their own homes were too often the nurseries of vice. Still, as I was considering the state of the village to-day, of which, indeed, I frequently receive correct information, my burdened heart seemed somewhat relieved.
Things are a little improved there, and, perhaps, it may please God that a certain watchman of whom I spoke in the Spinnstübe' of 1850 may go thither, but it must be soon. One cannot see, as yet, any signs of the resurrection to a new life in the village. The wound is still unhealed, and the real balm of Gilead, the word of God, is not, at present, to be found in every house. Both in the middle of the week and on Saturday, too many beggars are seen in the village and its cutskirts.
The house of God is still too far away for the villagers to attend, though it stands where it did in days of yore; in winter it is too cold, they say, in summer too hot, and in autumn and spring the roads are too muddy for the peasants to walk to the house of peace and prayer.
Constables and magistrate are still too often to be seen in the village. The children yet go dirty, neglected, and barefoot, and too often the sound of contention and strife is heard in the lowly dwellings, and too seldom, alas, the song of praise, or the voice of prayer.
As yet, the cattle are far from having redeemed their character of a fine, fat, and valuable breed; and many an acre, once flourishing and productive, is now lying waste; but, worst of all, the distiller in the neighbouring town yet boasts of the villagers as good customers.
God grant that the hamlet may arouse itself, and shake off the chains which fetter it, ere deeper sorrows visit its hearts and homes !
*** The foregoing narrative is somewhat shortened from the original, and is asserted by the author to be strictly true of a small village near the Rhine, of which, for obvious reasons, he forbears to give the name. He says, very truly, at the commencement, that which we will quote as a moral at the close of the narrative, that no man can live unto himself; that the influence of a single individual's conduct upon his fellow-creatures must work either for good or evil. A man cannot, according to a popular notion, “ be no one's enemy but his own;' being a social being, he must, in the different relations of life, affect his fellow-man, and his sins cannot be sins against his own soul alone, but against that of his brother and his sister.
It is a grave and solemn thought, and carries with it many an important lesson. We shall do well to ponder it, and to carry away with us from this little narrative the moral it is calculated to convey.
Before the orb of night;
In the full blaze of light.
Fell on her cold, cold face,
From the heavenly resting-place.
There seemed an upward gaze,
The angel's songs of praise.
The weak one feared not thee;
With the Father's family.
Plotices of Books.
The Treasure-Seeker's Daughter. A Tale of the Days of James the First. By
HANNAH LAWRANCE. London: A. Cockshaw. Pp. 256. Of the uses of fiction for the inculcation of morality, the illustration of history, or the development and exhibition of human character and passion, we have a high esteem. By it only can we always adequately represent, alike to the old and the young, the ignorant and the learned, the thoughtful and the careless, the many vices and failings of past and present humanity; and we think it one of the most prominent features of our past blindness and narrow-minded. ness that, as Dissenters, we have hitherto availed ourselves so little of this potent instrument for the leavening of popular opinion and judgment on past questions of our ecclesiastical history.
The promoters of the Library for the Times' have, therefore, we think, done well to take advantage of this medium for the purpose of illustrating and enforcing their hitherto inadequately represented views of English history. Dissenting literature has been too unattractive, and it has, therefore, repelled both the unlettered man and the scholar from reading it. We trust that the present, and some other recent works, may be taken as fair indications of an improving taste, judgment, and cultivation on our part, and that they may serve to attract the outside world into, at least, an occasional visit to the fairer domains of Nonconformist scholarship and learning.
* To place before the reader a picture of the general characteristics of society in the reign of James the First,' is the design of this tale. These characteristics were, --superstition almost everywhere abounding, with fawning flattery at court; savage persecution in the clergy, and religious dissensions amongst the people. Miss Lawrance has, with remarkable faithfulness and much discrimination, drawn this varied portrait of the times. Her sketches, minute and careful as a description by Wordsworth, or a miniature by Mayall, place one at once in familiar acquaintance with all the springs of thought and action which then moved society. Her knowledge of the literature of the age is as extensive as it is accurate, and her use of it, while free from all affectation or pedantry, is informing and to the purpose. The general literary characteristics of the book, therefore, are extremely creditable, and will add materially to the reputation of the series of works of which it is certainly one of the most instructive, interesting, and able. It has, however, as a work of fiction, many faults and defects in both its execution and design. The author dwells at too great a length on, and recurs too frequently to, the absurd superstitions of the times. True, these were shared in by even such a philosopher as Bacon-who firmly believed in witchcratt—and they permeated through all society, but they were not constantly uppermost in people's thoughts, nor did they take precedence of every other class of feeling. Another defect in the work is the want of warmth and colouring in the life-portraits. In this respect, we need hardly say, the book suffers greatly in comparison with the well-known novel of Sir Walter Scott, illustrative of the same period and many of the same characters. There is a want of this life-power even in its most critical scenes, while the author never once succeeds in touching our chords of deepest feeling. Looking at the book as a work of art, these are grave defects, but in more essential particulars it must be pronounced as successful. It is, besides, well adapted to accomplish its mission, and fully answers to its own promises. We shall be glad again to meet Miss Lawrance in her new-chosen field of literary labour.
The Israel of the Alps. A History of the Persecutions of the Waldenses. Trans
lated from the French of Dr. Alexis Muston. London: 227, Strand. Pp. 312. This is one of the volumes of the National Illustrated Library,' and one of its best and most instructive. The history of the Vaudois has been often written, but has never been so completely and succinctly placed before us as in this work. Dr. Muston writes faithfully, vigorously, and with a strong and generous sympathy for this brave people. The whole of this work, however, is not Dr. Muston's. Mr. Hazlitt has added to the original text of the French author several not unimportant particulars, compiled from Dr. Gilly's narrative. The two connected form a history copious and well constructed, and one which, to our readers, will possess an unusual degree of interest. We are glad to notice that Dr. Muston rejects the opinion so dogmatically maintained by some writers, that the Vaudois derive their origin from Valdo of Lyons, commonly known as Peter Waldo, who lived in the latter half of the twelfth century. His own view, in opposition to this, is probably the correct one. “The Vaudois of the Alps are, in our view, primitive Christians, or inheritors of the primitive church, who have been preserved in these valleys from the alterations successively introduced by the Church of Rome into the evangelical churches' (p. 1). On no other theory than this can we in any way satisfactorily account for the existence of this people in the place and character now rendered so famous in ecclesiastical history by the horrors of their persecutions and the heroism of their struggles. He who can read of these, and not feel that the dreadful curse of the great Father of the human race must rest upon that connexion of the Civil with the Ecclesiastical power which rendered possible such fiendish cruelties, must be possessed of a heart sadly warped, or an intellect perversely crooked.
An Analysis and Summary of Nero Testament Iristory. By the Author of · An
Analysis and Summary of Herodotus,' &c. Oxford and Cambridge : Wheelers.
London: Bagster and Sons. Those of our readers who have made themselves acquainted with the previous works of the author of An Analysis and Summary of Herodotus,' will, we are sure, thank us for bringing under their notice the present volume. The literary success of Mr. Wheeler, in these skilful historical summaries, must be acknowledged by every scholar. The present work, however, as the author informs us, materially differs from the former volumes of the series. Instead of merely abridging the historical portion of the New Testament, Mr. Wheeler has chosen to incorporate with it facts and suggestions, historical, biographical, geographical, antiquarian, and chronological, so that the text, in most instances, carries with it its own explanation. In addition to this are notes conveying a variety of every kind of information tending to illustrate the narrative. In the Introduction we have a very useful summary of the geography of New Testament history, intelligent and able outlines of its critical history, and of the arguments in proof of the authenticity, credibility, and inspiration of its books. To complete the narrative, there are added sketches of the subsequent lives of the apostles after the last references to them in the sacred books. These sketches are, of course, to be taken for what they are worth, and in one or two instances their worth is not much, but this arises not from the author's negligence, but from the paucity of credible materials. Still an intelligent and critical scholar should hesitate before he stated it as an absolute historical fact, that Peter at Rome guided Mark in writing his Gospel, and that the apostle was afterwards crucified in that city with Paul, and buried in the Vatican. There is nothing but the vaguest tradition to support such statements. The manner, however, in which this work, as a whole, is executed, is worthy of high praise. Every page indicates the pen of an acute critic, a learned scholar, and an intelligent thinker. The book, therefore, has our honest and hearty commendation. We know none of its size that may be made so great a help to the understanding of the evangelical and apostolical narratives.