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these parents have in the death of their son, when no repentance marks his last moments when they are only embittered with disappointed hope and unavailing remorse ?
“Prayers then extorted may be vain,
The hour of mercy past.' Ah! surely such a death must strike a heavier blow than even his sinful life. Such was the case with “the sweet singer of Israel," when he mourned over his lost son : “ Oh! Absalom my son, my son; would God that I had died for thee!” We can think of the old man wringing his hands and rending his garments with grief when he heard of the death of his unfortunate son; how touchingly do his words express
the love he felt for his ungrateful and rebellious son!
The death of friends, however, may sometimes take place under a different aspect, and produce somewhat different feelings in the breast. Let me transport you to a house of mourning, because a house of death : see, the windows are darkened, and we can discern the dim shadow-the indescribable gloom, which death has cast around; the girl who opens the door is filled with sorrow, and her eyes are red with weeping. Hark! these voices tremulous with emotion-interrupted with stifled sobs—are feebly attempting to raise the well-known hymn in which they have often joined, but never with such overwhelming feelings. Tread softly, for they have now finished. Let us stay here a moment. Hear you not that low, feeble voice in prayer; we cannot discern the words, but it gets louder, while heart-rending sobs are heard ; it is entreating for some life to be spared, and as from the heart seems that prayer to come : but it concludes—“Thy will be done." Let us enter. Why do all these weep? That young man, so pale and weak, and yet so young, that we are apt to think death might well spare him, is now addressing these weeping friends—bidding them farewell. He tells them that shortly he will “ die and appear before God." See how they weep! But he adds, “ I die with joy; my heart feels no fear; I know in whom I have believed ; but I charge you to meet me there," as he raises his trembling hand and points it upward. He takes his mother's hand, and with a heart-rending shriek she falls upon his neck and weeps over him—“Oh, my son, my child ! must you, then, leave your poor mother ?” and again she hugs him to her busom, as if that could shield him from the grim king. He tries to comfort her, though himself nigh overcome : he speaks to her of his hope, and how joyfully they will meet again, where death will part no more. He now takes his father's and his sister's hands, while he gives them his blessing. Oh! who can describe that scene, as they each “fell upon his neck and kissed him," while their hearts are too much filled with sorrow to utter even one farewell. Other friends now shake his withered hand, and to each he speaks a word of comfort; but exhausted he falls back upon his pillow, and his spirit seems to have fled; but he revives, and the man of God—the ambassador of Heaven-approaches and whispers those words of comfort which are fitted to his case. He then takes that good man's hand and thanks him for all his kindness – his
admonitions and his prayers; every word he utters seems as a breath from heaven, and they all hearken to them as the words of one who will shortly enter upon its bliss. Exhausted he has again fallen back, and scarce a sob is heard from his surrounding friends as they eagerly watch him in his last moments: he looks around them that look whispers peace; and, with the softness of the zephyr in the summer noon, he has breathed his spirit away. He is dead! but why do these friends still look so intensely? They cannot believe that this is death, till the man of God breaks the silence, with a whispered prayer for “those still left behind.” Oh! see how the mother again grasps that youthful form to her breast, and kisses its pale lips, while her tears drop scalding on those insensible cheeks! But she is borne away in a swoon; and let us hasten away.
Who was he, you ask, whose calm and peaceful death we now witnessed ? He was a dutiful son ; he was a loving brother, a dear friend" the child of many prayers." Early was he brought to know the truth, and early was his life conformed to its commands. He had consecrated his life to the service of God; his great wish was to preach unto others what he so dearly prized himself. His days and nights were spent in study, and in doing good; often might his lamp be seen flickering through the gloom of night, while he pored over the sacred page. He died young, who, had it been the will of Heaven to spare him, would have been a blessing to the world. And surely, then, his friends had cause for sorrow; but they had also cause for joy—they did not“ sorrow as those who have no hope."
Why should they weep for him who, having won
The bound of his appointed years, at last,
Serenely to his final rest hath past,
Lingers, like twilight hues, when the bright sun hath set ?" In cases such as this the heart is often disturbed with conflicting emotions—with the extremes of sorrow and of joy; we know not whether to weep or smile. When we think of the many hallowed associations and endearing remembrances connected with our friendship, the tears oft come unbidden, and sighs, loaded with sorrow, escape from the breast; yet, on the other hand, when we reflect upon his virtues—the hopes he breathed in death-the calm serenity of his death-bed-that he is taken “from the evil to come” to the felicity of heaven—these thoughts
“May charm the bosom of a weeping friend,
And pensive pleasure with devotion blend :
The airy lay of some departed saint." It is one of the amiable traits in the character of man, that the remembrance of departed friends never entirely fades from the mind; and to us it appears an additional proof of the immortality of the soul. And, in many cases, had we not the hope-nay, the assurance—that when this scene of
things is over, there is another and a better world, where “death-divided friends shall meet," the death of friends would be insupportable; we would be unable to bear the sorrow attendant thereon. This assurance Revelation gives; and, would we wish to die happy, and have a happy re-union with our friends, we must have our hearts and conduct ruled according to its dictates, contained in the standard of truth. It has become fashionable with certain parties to despise, or at least neglect, that standard : they will have anything but it. Let us, however, remind them, that there are few fashions at a death-bed; that at the death-bed of friends, or at their own, this question will either be forced upon their minds, or become a subject of delight. Better, far better then, it must be to prepare for it now, as the Bible directs, than, by waiting till a more convenient season," we find ourselves involved in confusion, misery, and despair.
Were we inclined, we might profitably contrast authenticated “ deathscenes” of the two parties, and show of which it might be truly said, 6 the death of that man is peace.” ink, lo er, enough has at present been said to show how paramount the influence of religion is at the death of friends—how paramount it is to the peace and consolation of the mourner; and we may, therefore, easily deduce the necessity of religion in preparing us for that solemn period when we must struggle with the last foe. If, at that time, as during our lives, the benign influence of religion be exhibited, we will leave an impression on the memory of our friends never to be effaced, which will whisper with a “still small voice” amidst the noise and tumult of the world—“Go ye and do likewise.”
THE MOORMAN'S TALE.
BY THE REV. J. YOUNG, M.A.
“There's horror in his looks,
Wide-gaping ruin opes to take him in.” I have frequently been surprised at the breathless eagerness with which a tale of mystery or horror has been listened to, and the undisguised pleasure which individuals have displayed while attending to a narrative with which a more than ordinary degree of moral delinquency, or 'even bloodshed, has been associated. Whether such inexplicable propensity may or may not arise from superstition, begotten and fostered by ignorance, or from sheer brutality of mind, which is not uncommonly the offspring of the former, I pretend not to determine; the solution of the problem I leave, on the present occasion, to be decided by those who delight to dabble in metaphysical science, contenting myself with suggesting the query I have advanced. But to the tale itself.
Whether my reader possesses a sufficient acquaintance with the localities of our island as to be able at once to transport himself in imagination to the wild regions of Dartmoor, I, of course, possess not the means of determining. If, however, they are not so far initiated into the secrets and niceties of the geography of the kingdom, it would appear necessary that I should imprimis, and, in a brief manner, supply that defect in his education; and this I do for the purpose of rendering my subsequent statements more comprehensive and intelligible.
The Dart, whence the moor derives its compound name, is a river of some importance, which, rising in the vicinity and winding its fertilizing way through the pleasant town of Totness, becomes navigable for small vessels, and, at a distance of about twelve miles, having in its course received the tributary stream of Hareburn, empties itself into the sea at Dartmouth-haven.
The Moor itself is formed of mountains, wild and rugged, the bowels of which are enriched by various kinds of ore, furnishing ample inducements for the mere speculator and the man of real fortune to embark in enterprise, supplying, at the same time, abundant employment for the hard-toiling and industrious miners who reside in the neighbourhood. A rich and extensive forest spreads its umbrageous covering over an extent of from eighty to one hundred thousand acres, excepting only where, by immense labour, plots of ground have been cleared and plantations formed. The proverbial barrenness, and sterility which once reigned over large patches of the moor in sickening monotony, has, in several districts, been considerably improved by tillage. The dwellers in this wild spot, to whom are applied the title of Moormen, seem to partake, in a considerable degree, of the nature of the soil they inhabit, and hence they are generally accounted the most ignorant and superstitious people in the west of England. Here the foundation of my tale lies, and having thus briefly despatched the business I proposed, I shall proceed at once to my narrative.
Towards the close of a dark and stormy December day I found myself, solitarily enough, among the wilds and windings of this lone place. The snow and sleet which had continued for some time to fall with a kind of moderation, now came down thick and fast. The howling rough winds swept in noisy gusts the deep ravines, and roared with tornadian violence among the cracking branches of the forest-trees upon the heights. All was drear and comfortless, and feeling no particular inclination to enact the part of a knight of the forest on such a night, I spurred on my halfjaded Rosinante to the top of his speed, hoping soon to meet with the cheering sight of a road-side house of entertainment for man and horse. In less than half an hour my wishes were gratified. To be fastidious in such a storm I considered would be ridiculous in the extreme, and hence, determining to suit myself to the entertainment I might meet with at the rustic inn, I drew up at the door, and in a few minutes, after seeing my horse well lodged in a warm stable, found myself seated by a blazing fire, in company with some half-dozen
persons, who appeared to deserve the appellation of the respectables of the place."
I had not long occupied my easy seat before an opinion, which it was very evident generally prevailed among the guests, was freely stated, namely, that the particular low moaning sounds which at intervals were heard, were the spirit-cry of a person who some years before had committed the rash act of suicide near the spot. I was surprised at the superstition of the adult group, and being anxious to become acquainted with the history of an affair which appeared connected with circumstances so mysterious, I inquired of the chief speaker if he was familiar with the entire case. With much affability and equal gravity he assured me he was, as indeed all persons were who resided within a score miles. of the place, and that if I, as a stranger, felt a particular wish to be informed of it, he would cheerfully relate the tale most sad, yet not more sad than true. I thanked him for his politeness, and assured him I should feel the obligation of his kindness, when, without further prelude, he narrated, in substance, as follows :
" It is now between fifteen and twenty years, sir, since a young man of the name of Adolphus Claremont commenced the business of a grocer in a neighbouring town. He was a person of pleasing appearance and genteel address; his invariable civility to his customers, and constant attention to business, soon obtained him a considerable connexion. No establishment in the whole town could vie with his for taste, and no one surpassed it for cleanliness. The attention of every passer-by was attracted by it, and in a short time the name of Claremont became as familiar as the most popular tavern-keeper's in the place. Frequently, at an early hour in the morning, I have passed by his house, and while others in his line were indulging themselves in sleep, and for hours after, he was seen actively employed among his commodities, dressing out his window, or removing every particle of dust or dirt from every part of his premises, so that, by the time his customers came, he was prepared to attend to them.
“As I have said, he became well known, esteemed, and popular. There may, indeed, have been one circumstance which tended to raise him high in the good graces of the young ladies of the town, beside the other recommendations referred to, and that was, his being at the time a bachelor. None could be indifferent to his attractive person; he had a fine manly figure, with a countenance of the most fascinating order, from which kindness and benevolence appeared constantly to beam.
“Two or three years had passed since Mr. Claremont settled in the town in question, when the increase of his business required an enlargement of his premises, and the profits he had already realised warranted the outlay, and enabled him to spare it from actual trade. In order to accomplish his wishes, according to a design which he had formed in his mind, he purchased the house which before he had only rented, and immediately commenced the contemplated improvement. The most avaricious and money-loving being could scarcely have desired prosperity