« PreviousContinue »
THE NEW YEAR.
HE New Year! The title seems a very old one, and many of us may be content just to glance at it, and turn over to the new story, or the little contribution of our own, for the appearance of which we have been anxiously longing. And yet, after all, the New Year may give us a few thoughts more deeply interesting than all else in the Month's periodical, and if they be very old thoughts, and very commonplace, they may, for that very reason, be the more practical,
Doubtless, as Churchmen, we began our year four weeks ago, and we keep the Circumcision rather than New Year's Day; and yet, the first of January brings with it a distinct idea of its own as a Festival.
We have to write a New Year's date on our first letter, and people greet us with New Year's wishes; then, it is often a day for children's festivities, and so we mark it as a new era.
It may, indeed, be very new to many. Last New Year's Day may have found us bound by many family ties; this, may find us alone. Last New Year's Day we may have been rejoicing in the success of some cherished plan; this, may find us cast down and dispirited, and, in countless ways, we may feel a great change between this and last first of January.
Certainly, looking out upon the Church and the world, the prospect seems different. There is little doubt that there is a stronger undercurrent of antagonism between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil, than has been for some time. Men are beginning to see that they must take one side or another; that the time may be very near when they must have very definite opinions upon certain matters; that, however much they may wish to "hold the faith in unity of spirit and in the bond of peace," it is next to impossible. God forbid that, through partizanship or false zeal, any one should dare to begin the strife! The responsibility would be too awfully great; and yet God may so allow the course of events that even we may be obliged to fall into the ranks on one side or the other.
Without going very deeply into matters of detail and technical
At any rate, we must be prepared. matters which may be too hard for us difficulty-we must make up our minds about such things as the Creeds, the Sacraments, and the Priesthood; not in the way of being able to understand every difficulty about them, which would place us nearly, if not quite, on the rationalistic side of the controversy, but with a view to establish our faith in them.
Let us be quite sure we know who Christ is, as well as what He has done for us. Let us be quite sure we can say the second part of the Catechism, which touches upon the Sacraments, with something like an intelligent faith. Let us be quite sure we recognise the Ordination Service in our Prayerbooks, and, in consequence, the delegated authority of our parish priest.
There ought to be nothing startling to us in the effort to be in truth, rather than in name, Churchmen; only let us take care that we are ready if the battle begin in earnest in our days. It has begun, in a measure, though it may not have reached us in our quiet country homes or busy lives. It may be that not one of us will be allowed to depart hence without joining in it.
Thank God, there is much on the other hand to cheer. The Church is waking up. Deeds of self-devotion, munificent almsgiving, and lavish works of love are rife; [and though dark clouds hover over at times, the sun will break through and disperse them; meanwhile, as long as we have done each one his duty, as long as we have striven and kept alive the faith, the storm when it has passed away will have left no traces of harm. In sluggishness and indifference lies our danger. The New Year now breaks upon us. Let us be up, and be doing.]
THE JOURNEY OF THE THREE WISE MEN.
N lands remote from Palestine there lived
To them made known a Saviour and a King.
They deem them scarcely meet for Him they seek,
This beauteous world around, and starry sky?
The birth-place of Messiah, Israel's King.
They knew it, but alas! in vain, for faith
Had in their hearts no place. They knew it well,
And thus they spake the King: "Thou, Bethlehem,
Its princes, for from thee a King shall come
To rule My people, Mine own Israel."
Then Herod did of these wise men enquire
And myrrh in token that His body blest
Should with it be embalmed. This done, in faith,
With thankful and glad hearts. They have found Him,
E. A. M.
LEMENT and Helier, meanwhile, had left the Castle, and gone down to La Charpenterie, scarcely speaking till they were safe in the kitchen, where Helier, with a sailor's love of tidiness, set to work to arrange the disordered furniture, and to rouse a cheerful blaze upon the hearth. Clement, after rummaging in the inner room, brought out several pieces of strong cord, and began knotting and joining them together. "Will these bear the Captain's weight ?" he said, presently.
"Why, yes: but how shall you contrive his escape? The chapel postern will be of no use, for I heard them posting sentinels along the corridor."
"This will even be a better way, if we manage it deftly. I know that room well. One of the bars in the window is loose, for I took it out myself, when I climbed after a daw's nest just above. The wall below
is of no such height as to make a descent impossible, and there is but a grassy slope at its foot. Once down there, he could easily get off."
"Ay; that sounds well; but remember Master Bandinel and his son. They met their death by such a descent."
"They were two stories higher up in the Castle, and the trial they made was simply madness. This is no such foolhardy notion. With a strong cord, and brave heart, and steady head, the Captain may do it well."
"But how will you provide him with the cord ?"
"For that I must trust to fate. But if I don't manage it, working at the very door of his room, this shall be my last enterprise."
So, when morning dawned, the two young men returned to the Castle, Clement's precious cord rolled up and hidden in the depths of his basket of tools. They had to spend the early part of the day in
the lower ward, and it was not till the afternoon was advancing that a warder led them up to Arthur's room, and having opened the door, took up his post at the entrance of the narrow passage. Clement proceeded silently to remove the old rusty lock and fasten a new one in its place, while Helier, doing what he could to help him, kept time to his work by singing in an under tone one of the "godly songs" peculiar to the Puritans. After some time had passed thus, the warder, seeing Arthur Monteagle intent upon a book at the other side of the room, moved closer to Clement, and stooped down to him, saying in a low voice :
"How can I tempt thee, good friend, to keep watch on this young captive for awhile in my place? Magpiash Cryaloud is even now exercising in the lower ward; his words are like the sound of a roaring torrent, and reach my ears, even in the uppermost part of this Tower of Babel. I would fain pass down for a time, to listen to his discourse."
"Is it so?" said Clement, with an appearance of hesitation. "Verily, friend, to tell the truth, I am in bodily fear of this young Philistine. Should he rush upon me by force, what shall I do ?"
"Rush upon thee!" said the soldier, in a tone of some contempt: "Why, he is weak and gentle as a lamb. Thrust him back into the chamber, and close the door. I shall not be long away."
PENNY POST, JAN. 1, 1870.]
As soon as the clank tinctly on his ear. of his heavy boots had died away in the distance, Clement raised his head, while Arthur at the same moment threw aside his book, and crossed the room.
"Any news for me, Clement ? The sight of a friend's face is unlooked-for pleasure." "No especial news, sir, save that I have designed your escape."
"I could hear nothing better, for the irksome anxiety of this imprisonment is more than I can bear. But how am I to escape? Tell me low and cautiously." "First take this cord, and hide it in some safe place. You will find the righthand bar of the window loose, and easy to be removed. Fasten the cord securely to yonder hook in the wall, and let yourself down without fear. The distance from this window to the ground is not great, the night will be dark, and there is wind enough to prevent your movements being heard."
"And I know the ground beneath," said Arthur, thoughtfully. "Your plan is doubtless a good one;-yet there is the terrible remembrance of the Bandinels."
"To say the truth, it was their venture that brought this to my mind," answered Clement. The descent they had to accomplish was far more dangerous than this of yours, and it was madness to attempt it, with so frail a rope, and in so great a storm. Hammer away, Helier, we must not stop work."
"One must risk something for the sake of liberty," said Arthur. "But whither shall I go? Not to Rozel: it would ex pose them to danger on my account.”
"And would not be a safe hiding-place, especially at first. If you will take my counsel, you will go straight to the mill at S. Catherine's, for the miller is an honest man, and will gladly give you shelter. There you had best wait till the first search is over, or at least till I find you a passage to France in some fishing-boat. If possible, I will await you at the foot of the walls."
"Do not risk yourself for me, my good fellow. You shall one day know my gra titude, both of you."
He turned aside to hide the cord that Clement had given him, and they heard the distant tones of Magpiash Cryaloud, who was waxing more furious as his discourse proceeded.
"That fellow's voice sounds like a conclusion," said Helier; "we shall soon have our good guard back again."
"Ay; and this work must make some progress," answered Clement, as he applied himself again to the crazy old door.
It was not long before the soldier returned, and found with satisfaction that everything was as he had left it. The dusk of the evening was coming on, and the two carpenters soon after left their work, and hastened out of the Castle, while Colonel West ascended to his prisoner's apartment, and paid him a short visit, wondering a little at the calmness with which he seemed to have reconciled himself to his captivity. When he was gone, and all was silent in the Castle except the measured tread of the sentinels, Arthur began to prepare for his escape. By the dim light of the "crasset," which had been placed in his cell, he collected his few possessions, buckled on his sword, tied his cloak round him, that it might not impede his movements, and set quietly to work to remove the bar of the window, which Clement had pointed out to him as being loose. There was no glass, and the air was kept out by a leathern curtain, drawn across the opening, which he fastened back, having carefully shaded his light from the wind. It was very dark and cloudy, and the cold blast whistled round his head, while the water broke on the sands with a monotonous plash, far below. Only seven years before, on a wild and stormy night in February, two prisoners in Mont Orgueil had striven to make their escape the same way. They were the Dean of Jersey and his son James Bandinel, who, being confined in a cell at the very top of the Castle, resolved to make this desperate effort to regain their liberty. They made a rope of cordage and towels, and let themselves down one after the other from the small window, scarcely knowing the immense height from which Their frail rope they had to descend.