Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

ence.

a

stition. But, on the contrary, there is opposition to the word heaven. But, a wonderful unanimity of thought in re- happily, the word heaven is of more gard to all questions connected with re- frequent appearance on the page of ligion. Pagan and Jew, Christian and Shakspeare, and he seems to delight Moor, all pitch their notes to the same in depicting the joy connected with a key of immortality and a future exist- pious faith in contemplation of the rapt

ures of the heavenly home. And it is This apparent ignoring of any system to be noted that the heaven of Shaksdiffering in any material degree from the peare is undoubtedly the heaven of commonly accepted theology of his time the Bible. So, he makes his charachas led Shakspeare into some marked ters speak of the "gates of heaven,” of incongruities. Thus, in the tragedy of "souls going to heaven;" and, in times Hamlet, the action of which is placed of death or of great calamity, they bid at a time so "remote and undefined" as each other “farewell, to meet again in to date it long anterior to the introduc- heaven." tion even of Christianity into Denmark, Shakspeare has given so many deathand in which he had an excellent oppor- scenes in which this “soaring faith" is tunity to advance his infidel notions, if emphasized, that it is difficult to athe had any, without offense, he makes tempt an illustration from his pages be. every distinctive character, king and cause of the danger of prolixity on this queen, the “melancholy prince" and theme. But there is one so characthe "fair Ophelia,” the practical Hora- terized by the exhibition of numerous tio and the midnight spectre — who like Christian virtues, united with a faith that an “honest ghost” comes straight from grasps at immortality even before the the flames of purgatory to make his sands of life have run out from the soul-harrowing revelations—all testify earthly vessel, that to pass it without directly or indirectly to the doctrine of a word on this occasion would be unthe immortality of the soul.

grateful and unjust. Angels also not mythological spir- The dying moments of Queen Kathits, elves, and fairies, such as are con- arine, in Henry VIII., as depicted by jured up in the Tempest and other kin- Shakspeare, could never have been writdred plays, but angels according with ten by one who was not at heart a rethe Scriptural idea-are occasionally re- ligious man. In it the Christian graces ferred to in a manner that displays no of forgiveness, humility, charity, and true particle of doubt as to the reality of faith are strongly set forth. their existence. Hence we hear of evil More familiar to the general ear is deeds that make “the angels weep,” of the prelude to the prayer of Claudius virtues that "plead like angels,” and in Hamlet. It will be remembered that that “angels love good men.” We are in this soliloquy the king, after drawing told also, in perfect harmony with the a parallel between his own offense and Biblical account, that through the “sin the “first recorded murder," declares of ambition the angels fell.”

that he feels the curse of heaven restPursuing this vein a little farther, it ing upon him, and that he can not hope will be noticed that the word hell in for mercy so long as his repentance is Shakspeare is generally used to desig- insufficient to induce the surrender of nate some place of torment, following fruits and advantages gained by this upon the death of the body, and is “rank offense.” He then proceeds to often, though not always, when used in draw this strong contrast between the that sense, coupled with and placed in way of God and the ways

of

man:

“In the corrupted currents of this world

be a matter of much interest for the libOffense's gilded hand may shove by justice,

eral mind. The presumption, however, And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself Buys out the law; but 'tis not so above ;

is that he was of too large and cathoThere is no shuffling, there the action lies lic a nature to be a partisan of either, In his true nature ; and we ourselves compelled, and that, as “no church can claim him," Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,

so also there is “no simple Christian To give in evidence."

soul but can claim his fellowship.” One Examples of this kind might be given thing, however, is morally certain: that to almost any extent, wherein the idea his writings recognize what are termed of a future life for man, connected with the vital truths of Christianity. Among its kindred thought of punishment and these the partial examination now conreward, is fully recognized and emphat- cluded in these pages establishes: ically set forth. Shakspeare has de- 1. A belief in the existence of a Dilineated many a so-called “fool," but vine Being, whom we call God; nowhere on his magic page will be 2. A belief in the immortality of the found that fool who hath “said in his soul; heart, There is no God.”

3. In the existence of supernatural The sanctity of the marriage relation, beings, both good and evil, termed anthe brotherly duty of man to man, filial gels; love and respect for parents — every 4. In a place of punishment for wickclaim that true religion makes upon hu- ed men after death, called hell; manity, is duly set forth, magnified, and 5. In an abode of bliss for the rightenforced by this prince of poets. eous, denominated heaven; and,

Turning for a moment from the evi- 6. Though less positive and decided dences to be gathered from his works, than the foregoing, a belief in the genit is difficult to believe that the man who, eral Christian theory of the resurrection four short weeks before his death, exe- of the body. cuted a will in which he says, “I commend my soul into the hands of God In conclusion, it is gratifying to feel my Creator, hoping and assuredly be- that such doubts in regard to Shakslieving, through the only merits of peare's religious belief as have so far Jesus Christ, my Saviour, to be made been reviewed, will never get a permapartaker of life everlasting," had really nent hold upon the popular mind. For no belief in or concern for the doctrine two hundred years his volume, side by of immortality and the future existence side with the family Bible, has lain upon of man. Is it possible — probable, even the stand, and in the estimation of men —that he, whom his friends called the is held second only to that first of all “sweet” and “gentle," and of whom books. Thus they have stood, and so his most intimate companion, Jonson, they will continue to stand until "the said, "he was indeed honest, and of an last syllable of recorded time" - one as open and free nature," could be guilty the most complete picture of humanity of so flagrant and heinous a deceit? in all its varying phases; the other an

As to whether Shakspeare died in authoritative monitor and guide for this the profession of Roman Catholicism life, with a revelation of man's ultimate or Protestantism, though it may afford destiny and an assurance of the life to speculation for the curious, it can never

come.

a

IN A CALIFORNIAN EDEN.

H

а

CHAPTER VI. — A FLAG OF TRUCE. pipes in their mouths, and their rag

OW beautiful was all this pro- ged coats thrown over one shoulder,

found veneration for woman in like the bravos of Italy. Certainly there this wild Eden! How high and holy was something in the glorious climate of the influence of this one woman over California. these half-grizzlies, these hairy-faced There had been no news from the men who had drank water from the Widow all this time. same spring with the wild beasts of the A keen-eyed man just now lifted his Sierra. Now they would not drink, eyes in the direction of the cabin. In would hardly shout or speak sharp, while fact, it was a custom-an instinct — to she lay ill. Whatever was the matter, lift the face in that direction many times or the misfortune, they had too much re- a day. If any of these men ever prayspect for her, for themselves, to carouse ed in that camp, and the truth could be until she should again show her face, or told, you would find that man, or men, at least while her life was uncertain. first turned the face and kneeled looking

The fourth day came down into the in that direction. Her house was a sort cañon, and sat down there as a sort of of Mecca. pioneer summer. Birds flew over the The camp, however, after being a long camp from one mountain-side to the oth- time patient and silent, had got a little er, and sung as they flew. Men whis- cross. Yet it had not lost a bit of its tled old tunes in a dreamy sort of a way blunt and honest manhood. It had simas they came up from their work that ply made up its mind that the Widow day, and recalled other days, and were and Sandy were both of age, and able to boys once more in imagination, away in take care of themselves. If they were the world that lay beyond the Rocky willing to get the toothache, or someMountains.

thing of the kind, and then retreat into “There is something in this glorious their cabin, and pull the latch-string inclimate of Californy, say what you will,” side after them, they could do so, and mused the Judge, as he lit his pipe and the camp would not interfere. sat down on a stump in the street. The man who had been looking up the

Limber Tim and the cinnamon-haired hill now turned to his partner, drew his man had settled down into the collapse pipe from his mouth, wrinkled up his which always follows a protracted spree brows, and then slowly reached out his or a heavy carouse, and they, too, sat on arm and with his pipe-stem pointed intheir respective stumps out in the open quiringly up the hill. air, while the saloon was left all to the . A man and a woman were coming little brown mice up-stairs.

slowly and cautiously down the way Men were lounging up and down the from the Widow's cabin. They were street on old knotty logs that no axe coming straight for the great centre of could reduce to fire - wood, or leaning the Forks, the Howling Wilderness. against the cabins on the sides that The woman had something in her were still warm with the sunshine gone arms. She walked as carefully as if she away, or loafing up and down with their had been bearing a waiter of wine.

[ocr errors]

Could this be the Widow? It could They entered the edge of the town, hardly be Bunker Hill, thought the these three, and the town stood there as Forks, as it rose from its seat on the silent as if it had risen up on its way to stumps and lifted its face up the trail, church on a Sunday morning. These for she is almost as tall and comely three, do you mind, stood there still, and steps as nimbly as any woman in right in the track of the town, and the camp.

town looking at them as if they had come Could this be Sandy? He looked from another world. And so at least larger than ever before- a sort of Gog they had, a part of them. or Magog

These three: Sandy, Bunker Hill, and The man stuck his pipe between his the first baby born in the mines of the teeth again and puffed furiously for a Sierra. minute, and then sat down over the log Bunker Hill held the baby out in one again, let his feet dangle in the air, and, hand, and with the other tenderly lifted leaning forward, rocked to and fro as if back the covering, while Sandy stood by nursing his stomach, and seemed wrap- like a tower on a hill, smiling, pushing ped in thought.

back his hat, pulling down his whiskers, “Sandy, by the great Cæsar!” looking over the little army of men with

“Mither o’ Moses! an' it's Miss Bun- a splendid sort of sympathy and selfker Hill, too!”

adulation combined. He seemed to be “Bunker Hill, by the holy poker!” saying, as they turned their eyes to the “An' what's that she's a-carryin'?” little red half-opened rose-bud, “Just look

“Be the Moses, it's a plate o' holy there! see what I've done!” His great wafers!”

face was radiant with delight. “It's a table-cloth a-hangin' out for And then there was a shout-such a dinner!”

shout! The spotted clouds that blew "It's a flag of truce!" cried the Judge, about the tall pine - tops, indolent and standing on tiptoe on his stump and away up on the mountain's brow, seemstraightening his fat little body up to- ed to be set in motion again; the coyoward the Sierra.

te rose from his sleep on the mountain “ An? hasn't Sandy growed since we side and called out to his companions seed 'im, eh!"

across the gorge as if he had been fright“An' don't he step high! Jerusalem, ened; while Captain Tommy, who had don't he step high!"

been left with the Widow, came to the “An' where's Captain Tommy? an' door and stood there, listening and lookwhere's the Widder?” anxiously inquir. ing down into the camp to see what in ed the Forks, still looking up the hill to- the world had happened. She saw men's ward its little shrine.

hats go up in the air, and then again the At last they entered the town, and the shouts shook the town. town met them on the edge-at its out- “Three cheers for Sandy!” They er gate, as it were, with all its force. were given with a tiger. “Three cheers

The woman, indeed, bore a flag of for the Widder!” Then, “Three cheers truce. A long white banner streamed for Missus Bunker Hill!” And then the from her arms and fell down to her feet, poor girl leaning out of the door took up and almost touched the ground. A close her apron and wiped tears of joy from her observer would have seen that this flag eyes, for three times three” were give was made of the very same coarse ma- en for Captain Tommy. Then she went terial from which the Widow had made back into the house, back to the bedthe curtains of her little bed.

room with the curious little curtains and

gunny-bag carpets, and told the Widow, der and to read the story of this new and the two women wept together.

volume fresh from the press. They Men slapped each other on the back, looked long and silently. They were bantered each other, and talked loud of as gentle as lambs. Death had no terold Missouri and the institution of mar- ror to them; it was not half so solemn, riage. Of all things perhaps this was so mysterious, as this birth in the heart the last they had looked for or thought of the Sierra. Life was there, then, as of. In a camp of thousands, where the well as death. People would come and youngest baby there had a beard on his go there as elsewhere. The hand of face, the men had forgotten to think of God had stretched over the mountain, children. It is quite likely they fancied down into the awful gorge, and put down that children would not grow in the Si- a little angel at their cabin - doors. It erra at all.

was very, very welcome, and the old The Judge was the first to come for men bobbed their heads with delight. ward, as was his custom. He looked it At last all was still, and the little in the face, began to make a speech, Judge felt that this was an occasion not but only could say, "It's this glorious to be lost. In fact, had there been a climate of Californy.” And then he clergyman there to say a word, it bad blushed to the tip of his nose, backed had more good effect than all the funerout, and others came in turn to see the al sermons that the little red-faced man wonderful little creature that had come, had pronounced in the camp. The ocall alone, farther than any of them, far- casion was a singular one, and the men's ther than the farthest of the States, even hearts were now as mellow as new-plowfrom the other world, to settle in the Si- ed land that had long lain fallow and erra.

waiting for the seed. “Well, ef that aint the littlest!“This, my friends,” began the little “Is that all the big they is?”

man, standing upon a stump, and ex“Aint more'n a half-pint! is it, Go- tending his hands toward the baby, pher?"

“this, my friends, shows us that the "Well, that bangs me all hollow !” wonderful climate of Californy

“Dang my cats ef it's bigger nor my Just then some one poked the fat little thumb!”

fellow in the stomach with his pipe-stem. Devil of a little thing to make such He doubled up like a jackknife, and quia big row about, eh?”

etly got down as if nothing had hapSandy was all submission and pride pened. and tenderness, and received the con- There was a lull then, and things begratulations and heard the good-humor- gan to look embarrassing. Sandy was ed speeches of the good - humored men now, of course, too proud, too happy, as if they were all meant in compliment too much of a man to carouse, but he to him.

called the cinnamon - headed man to his How radiant and even half - beautiful side by a crook of his finger, and makwas the plain face of poor Miss Bunkering the sign so well known in the SierHill as she lifted it up before the camp ra, and so well understood by all who now, conscious that she had done a good are thirsty, the parties divided – the thing, and had a right to look the world camp to carouse to the little stranger in in the face and receive its kindness and the Howling Wilderness, and Sandy to encouragement.

return to his “fam'ly.” Older men and more thoughtful came “ Here's to-to-to-here's to it! up at last, to look upon the little won. Here's to the Little Half-pint!” The

« AnteriorContinua »