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EXCELSIOR

HELPS TO PROGRESS

RELIGION, SCIENCE, AND LITERATURE.

The shades of Bight were falling fast.

As through an Alpine village passed A youth, who bore, ’mid snow and ice,

A banner with the strange device.

Excelsior !

Longfellow.

VOL. I.

LONDON:

JAMES NISBET AND CO. BERNERS STREET.

1854.

LONDON :

Printed by G. Barclay, Castle St. Leicester Sq.

Very gratefully do tlie projectors of this series acknow- ledge the kindness with which it has been received ; and, through the assistance promised by friends eminent in literature and science, they confidently hope that future volumes may win a still larger share of public favour.

At the end of the third year, when the work is completed, it is intended to give a classified index of the subjects discussed, together with the names of the principal contributors.

In the meanwhile, it may be right to mention, for the information of those whom it concerns, that, although some of the articles are written by foreigners, they are all copyright, and have all been prepared expressly for the pages of Excelsior.”

June 1, 1854.

CONTENTS.

Page

Onward and Upward 1

Our Town Three Hundred Years ago 10

The Mould and the Medallion. A Lesson in the Christian

Evidence 19

Aspire! A Ballad for the Times. By Martin F. Tupper. .. . 28

The Druids 30

The Walrus 33

Life, in its Lower Forms :

I. Infusoria 39, 108

II. Porifera (Sponges) 161, 277

III. Polypifera 336, 401

Papers on the Air and Sky :

I. The Ocean Over-head 48

II. Our Atmospheric Food 115

III. An Aerial Voyage 224

IV. Cloudland 289

Y. The Way of the Wind 356

YI. Bainbows, Halos, and the Mirage 459

Sketches in Ornithology :

The Parrots and their Kinsfolk 53

Macaws, Cockatoos, Lories 121

An Eastern Apologue 66

The Everlasting Hills 68

VI

CONTENTS.

Page

The Black Forest. Chapters I. and II 69

Letters from London to Friends far away 77

The Great White Throne 81

The Three Wakings

Luther’s Parables

The Hippopotamus

How they Found their Way to Westminster Abbey

The Volatile Treasure

Beview of the Month (January)

Niagara

My Brother’s Keeper :

Chapter I.— Ill

v. VI

Light’s Teachings . .

The Throne of Grace

The Vaudois and the Val Louise

The Beden, or Wild Goat . . . .

Scripture Ethnology. The Egyptians

Sonnet

The Lymington Brine Shrimp and the Fezzan Worm

All about Bussia

Beview of the Month (February)

Arctic Enterprise. Baffin and Inglefield

On the Populations of the Bussian Empire :

I. The Baltic Provinces and Finland

II. The Parts around the Black Sea

89

102

135

144

149

156

172

181

300

419

199

202

209

215

220

223

229

233

237

241

248

327

III. The Kosak, Caucasian, and North American Po-

pulations 440

Christianity in Boman Britain 260

The Story of a Hymn . . . . 267

The Great Ant-Eater 285

Wildbad : its Ways and its Waters. Being the Black Forest

Chapter III 294

CONTENTS. Vii

Page

Wordsworth’s Celandine 298

Ascent of the Bigi 309

Be view of the Month (March) 318

The Fuegian Martyrs 321

Snails : their Long Lives and their Bevivals 343

The Wooden Walls of Old England 347

The Boyal Albert 353

A Night with Mars and the Moon 360

The Angel’s Voice 370

Notes on Great Pictures. The Van Eycks and Oil-Painting 379 The Story of Great Histories. The Decline and Fall of the

Boman Empire” 389

Be view of the Month (April) 397

The Cheque and the Counterfoil. A Lesson in the Christian

Evidence 407

The Story of Great Histories. Baleigh’s History of the

World” 434

Alexander, Emperor of Bussia . 448

Birthday Blessings. By Alaric A. Watts 462

Beview of the Month (May) 463

Index 467

ILLUSTRATIONS.

Page

Stonehenge 30

The Walrus {Trichechus rosmarus) 33

Infusoria 45

Nestor productus 127

The Hippopotamus {Hippopotamus amphibius) 135

Porifera (Sponges) 165

Pulpit of the Church of Val Louise 212

The Beden, or Wild Goat {Capra Nubian!) 215

The Lymington Brine Shrimp and the Eezzan Worm. . . . 229, 230

Lady Franklin’s Ship Isabel surrounded by the Ice in Baffin’s

Bay 241

The Great Ant-Eater {Myrmecophaga jubata) 285

Earnest Cove 321

Fac-simile of Mr. Williams’ hand- writing 326

Helix desertorum 344

Longitudinal Section of the Royal Albert , 131 guns ........ 352

Occultation of Mars by the Moon 360

Polypifera 401

EXCELSIOR

ONWARD AND UPWARD.

If I might speak as a monitor, my whole exhortation might be comprised in a single word, and that one word would be, Aspire. Sir James Stejj hen’s Lecture to the Young Men’s Christian Association.

Nicholas Horn was the son of a rich man and the nephew of a famous scholar. It was believed that ’Chess himself was clever ; but he had such an aversion to labour, that the only efforts he ever made were to get up late in the day, and undress in the evening. He left his money to a cousin, who joyfully closed his eyes, and who, in terms of his will, erected his monument. It was one of his instruc- tions that his epitaph should record all his eminent actions ; accordingly, with more than usual fidelity, it simply an- nounced that there was a day when Nicholas died. His age was fifty-nine ; but, deducting the time he spent in bed, the calculation was that he had lived no more than nineteen years.

Mr. Horn was what Lord Bacon calls a glaring instance.” Since the Fall, indolence has been a besetting sin of our species ; and, left to ourselves, most of us would repeat the life of the lazy German. In civilised countries, however, it is seldom that men get leave to indulge the do-nothing propensity. Like the agitator in a paper-vat, or rather like the floor of heated iron on which the waggish

1

B

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ONWARD AND UPWARD.

doctor made his patients dance away their imaginary diseases, hunger keeps our millions on the move ; and the few who are so rich that they might “eat” without “working,” are roused to exertion by the desire of distinction, or some nobler motive. And it is only in lands where this disease of humanity is left to itself, or, as physicians would say, where it is treated on the expectant system, that we see how little tendency there is in laziness to work its own cure. In balmy isles, like the Marquesas, it is to be feared that even the Anglo-Saxon might grow lethargic; and were he sleeping night after night under a bread-fruit tree, and waking up every morning to find a dainty breakfast dropped from the branches, there would be a danger lest the coun- tryman of Arkwright and Addison should subside into a sluggard, and become the ancestor of a horde of savages.

This aversion to labour is a part of our fallen heritage, and it is a chief triumph of man’s great enemy. If not as culpable as our estrangement from God and from one another, indolence is quite as constitutional and hardly less fatal. It is the sleepy venom which paralyses man’s faculties and hinders him from all attempts to better his condition. It is the stupefaction which makes a being little lower than the angels content with the level of the beasts, and which reconciles to sottish ignorance and mere sentient enjoyment a race to which heaven stands open, and which its Creator originally formed with tastes and affections resembling His own.

Has the reader ever realised his own amazing capacities ? His turn of mind may not be poetical, or metaphysical, or observant ; but still, however latent, he has a turn for something: and let that turn or taste be only quickened, let it be so stimulated as to burst through the remissness and sluggishness inherent in us all, and for anything he knows our young reader may yet be a Milton, a- Leibnitz, a

THE STARTLED DAY-DREAMER.

3

Linnasus. His piety may be very crude, or it may not have yet commenced ; but he has a soul capable of becoming as devout, and holy, and benevolent, as Daniel or John : and let him only catch the celestial fire, let him only receive right views of God’s character and the right affection towards him, and although he may not prove the fac- simile and exact repetition of a Buxton, a Chalmers, or an Arnold, he will be what is incomparably better, he will be a new epistle of Jesus Christ. In precise proportion as his peculiar powers are consecrated, he will be an original in goodness, a fresh contribution to the world’s welfare, and, all the rather for being closely scriptural, a distinct and unborrowed specimen of that glorious thing, regenerate humanity.

One day a well-educated youth wrote these words : Nineteen years ! certainly a fourth part of my life ; per- haps how great a part ! and yet I have been of no service to society. The clown who scares crows for twopence a-day is a more useful man ; he preserves the bread which I eat in idleness.” The truth began to strike him. He was lounging life away, and was in danger of dying an in- glorious cumber-ground. Some say that he had little genius. If so, it all the better proves what well-directed industry may do. Robert Southey started from his torpor. He began to redeem the time. He read ; he wrote ; he en- riched his mind. Volume after volume he filled with abridgements and extracts ; and he composed and re -com- posed essays of his own. And not to speak of the continual feast supplied by his wealthy and well-furnished mind ; to say nothing of the fond pride with which he sat enthroned in the midst of a noble library, the purchase of his unweary- ing pen ; without dwelling on the life-long delight involved in the progress of his elaborate histories, or the splendid revelries which his fancy enjoyed in its ultra- Oriental

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ONWARD AND UPWARD.

excursions ; who is there that has read the best of modern ballads, the most musical of metrical romances, and the most charming of naval biographies, without congratulating the bard who redeemed Dryden’s laurel from disgrace, and made it a chaplet worthy of the brow of Wordsworth and Tenny- son ? or without confessing the good service to society of a scholar whose example has ennobled letters as much as his research has instructed mankind ?

It is nearly a hundred years ago since a young man from Peterborough entered Christ’s College, Cambridge. Equally noted for his clear head and his clumsy manners, he was at once the butt and the favourite of his fellows, and he squandered the long evenings in parties which were idle rather than outrageously immoral. At the commencement of his third year, however, he was arrested by an apparition at his bed-side. He had left his companions late at night, and now, at five in the morning, one of them stood before him, and said, “Paley, I have been thinking what a dreadful fool you are. I could do nothing, probably, were I to try, and I can afford the life I lead. You could do everything, and you cannot afford to live at this rate. I have had no sleep thinking about you, and I am come solemnly to inform you, that if you persist in your indolence I must renounce your society !” The singular admonition was not lost. Before he rose the startled sluggard had formed a new plan of life. He determined to get up every morning at five, and, except the time required for hall and chapel, he agreed to study every day till nine at; night. He kept his resolu- tion. He became a paragon of industry. One by one he distanced all competitors, and at last his under-graduate course reached its brilliant consummation in the senior wrangler ship. And instead of going down to the grave a mere card-playing, port-drinking placeman of the old regime , borne along by the impulse thus early acquired, Paley spent

INTELLECTUAL EPOCHS.

5

his life in the pursuit of knowledge ; and in the Horse Paulinse” and its companion treatises, he has bequeathed to the Christian argument the most solid contributions ever made by correct information under the guidance of a strong and straightforward judgment.

So great an epoch in a man’s history is this intellectual quickening, that many have regarded it as nothing less than a better birth. From the time that Schiller made the ac- quaintance of Shakspeare, and that Keats read the Faery Queene;” from the day that James Edward Smith procured his first botanical lesson-book, and Joseph Banks fell in with Gerard’s Herbal from the visit which Haller paid to the physician at Bienne, and from the time when, fast as they appeared. Gibbon devoured the successive volumes of the Universal History,” each dated an inspiration so unique, and the commencement of enjoyments so exalted, that they felt as if it was only then that their real lives began. And to any reader it will be a beginning of days when he first acquires the taste for some ennobling pursuit, and when, in the study of history or theology, of mental or material science, he finds exercise for powers heretofore latent, and commences a higher style of his own existence.

Yet, after all, it is not knowledge but wisdom which is the principal thing. Spiritual health, or a right state of the affections, is the supreme attainment, and the only right estate of man ; and till once he has reason to believe that he has a friend in the Most High, and that the best part of his own existence is to be its bright hereafter, a thoughtful man must often feel that his richest stores of erudition are only expensive trifles, and his intellectual feats no better than a misdirected industry.

That alone deserves the name of a better birth which, by restoring man to his Maker and to society, restores him to himself, and which sets him on the way to be again a

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ONWARD AND UPWARD.

creature very good:” such a change as transpired when the blaspheming tinker of Elstow became the Boanerges of many an awe-struck assembly, and the joyful prisoner of Jesus Christ; such a change as took place when the captain of the slave-ship melted down into the penman of the Olney Hymns,” and the loving, tender-hearted pastor of St. Mary’s ; such a change as when the dancing meteor of the race-course and ball-room was drawn into the orbit of piety, and began to shed the light so benign and so beautiful which at last disappeared in the grave of Wilberforce ; such a change as, often with faint tokens and by slow degrees, takes place each time that, under the power of Christian truth, bad habits drop off, and self-denying tasks are done ; when the Bible becomes the Word of the living God, and prayer an effectual means of procuring wished-for blessings ; when inferiors or kindred roughly used are treated with systematic and thoughtful kindness ; when business and the social board, personal conduct and family arrangements, are subjected to the Saviour’s rules ; and when the man who used to shun the communion-table is not ashamed to be counted Christ’s disciple.

But whether it is a mental or a moral elevation, we may be very sure that it is in accordance with the will of God ; and in labouring for it we are only carrying out our Crea- tor’s benevolent design. He has given us bodies fearfully and wonderfully made ; and, in order to maintain or restore their vigour, we take food, and exercise, and medicine, and we ask God’s blessing on such means. He gives that blessing, and our days pass painlessly ; we are strong for labour ; and if need be, the brave spirit can defend what the brawny arm has won. He has given us minds with stupendous powers, and we take the means to develope and improve them, humbly entreating the Father of Spirits for His help. He gives that help. The memory brightens, till

THE HIGH CALLING.

7

the main incidents of our human history are mapped before it, or till the best thoughts of great men— like exotics on the lawn make glad the inward landscape. The habit of observ- ation sharpens, till, in trodden fields, where the last gleaner could not find a single ear, a great sheaf fills his bosom. The judgment strengthens, till he not only guides his own affairs with discretion, but becomes so clear-sighted, so wary, so comprehensive, so rich in resources, that he is recognised as a master-spirit, and in conjunctures of danger or difficulty all men are eager to inquire at this oracle. And even so, God has given us souls with boundless capacities. It is our own fault if we have not a daily festival in the exercise of the benevolent affections ; -it is our own fault if we never share with the celestial citizens the joy of communion with God. But just as it is the Creator’s will that we should take care of our bodies, and make the most of our minds ; so it is His will that we should take care of our souls and turn to the best account the faculties and affections with which they are endowed. It is His will that we should quit the realms of rebellion, and pass over to the regions of peace and recon- ciliation. It is His will that we should cast ourselves on God’s mercy, as that mercy is guaranteed in Christ Jesus. It is His will that, no longer turning the back, like the pro- digal running away, nor looking at Him sideways and suspiciously, like the truant distrustful of pardon, we should look at Him as in the Gospel He looks at us, and be won back to allegiance by the full-faced exhibition of Godlike compassion and more than fatherly forgiveness. It is His will that we should at once commence the life of filial obedience, and pass our days in His presence as His dutiful children. And when once we occupy this happy position, there is no height of personal excellence, there is no attainment of self-denying, world-bettering, God-glorifying zeal, to which He does not invite us to aspire.

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ONWARD AND UPWARD.

So much is this God’s will that He has provided all the means. He has wrought out a great salvation. He has published the Gospel. He has given us a written declara- tion of his mind. And He promises the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.

With this opening year, why should not the reader com- mence the career of a Christian ? Why should he not enter on that blessed life which, giving him peace with God, will give him the fullest power to serve his fellows ?

Or, if he has entered on it already, why should not he start anew? Why should not he, with the supplicated aid of God’s Spirit, seek to add to his faith every excellence ? Why should not he, with that noblest of aspirants, forget the things which are behind,” and press forward ?”

Even amongst Christians many are poor-spirited and lazy. Hoping, on the whole, that they are safe, they do not wish to have any further trouble ; and it is to be feared that there is little faith in their orthodox assent, little feeling in their high-sounding phrases.

But, reader, be yours a holier ambition. God has called you to glory and virtue. Around you stretch boundless fields of knowledge ; before you soars, till lost in the em- pyrean, the path to honour and immortality. It is better with you than once it was ; but you have not yet attained. God has taken you from a fearful pit ; but the mouth of the shaft, though bright compared with the depth of the mine, is neither such bracing air nor such a brilliant prospect as the sides of the mountain. Look upward, and press on.

As a means of wider usefulness, improve your mental powers. You may not possess the sturdy sense of Paley, or the flowing wealth of Southey ; but, however neglected or unknown, you have your own intellectual affinities and aptitudes. Find them out, and ply them to the utmost; and if you be an industrious trader, the solitary talent will soon

LIVING TO GOOD PURPOSE.

9

create another. And, to say nothing of the deep delight implied in growing information and expanding powers, if united to a frank and forth-giving disposition, they will render your friendship a treasure of ever-augmenting value, and the lasting enrichment of the society in which you mingle.

And pray and labour for personal excellence. In love and devotion look to the great Example ; and, learning of Jesus, your character will grow exceedingly. Too genuine to be sanctimonious, and too earnest to be frivolous, clear views and profound convictions will give you all the strength of sincerity ; and, at once magnanimous and gentle, those who are attracted by your benignant bearing will be im- pressed by your lofty principle. Instead of your faith being sapped and your fervour dulled by the triflers around you, drawing spiritual strength day by day from the Source of all goodness, yours may be the happiness of convincing the sceptic and reclaiming the libertine. And betwixt the impulse which sets a good work a-going, and the still better impulse which keeps it from flagging ; be- twixt the children you instruct, the companions you gain over, and the neighbours whom you guide into ways of well-doing ; betwixt the suffering you alleviate and the comfort you confer ; betwixt the evil which God enables you to restrain, and the right deeds and feelings which He allows you to elicit ; yours will be a high calling and a happy career. Familiar with important thoughts, and occu- pied with great concerns, loving widely and extensively endeared, never aimless, never idle, never forgetful of the Master’s business, your life will belong to that class of which the Apostle Paul’s was the intensest specimen, a life which still revives in every dawning day, and which is mighty yet in all the homes of Christendom.

OUR TOWN THREE HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

One morning lately I was looking at an engraving of T as it stood sixty years ago ; and as it some-

how detained my eye, I began to think how interesting it would be if we could travel into other times as we travel into other lands, and, without losing our consciousness of the present, could transfer ourselves into any period of the past. Since then I have accomplished this chronological pil- grimage, and I now write to you from my last landing- place, near the close of the sixteenth century; so, be not startled at the date :

T , under the mild sway of our occidental star, and

most religious and gracious Queen, Elizabeth, the Rose without a Thorn.

During the three days I remain here, I am to rest at the house of the Glanvil family. As I arrived I was struck with the narrowness of the streets. They are too narrow for the passage of anything but pack-horses. In many of them the lowest story is open to the street, with an outer staircase leading to the second floor, and narrowing still further these narrow lanes. The pack-horses, which carry our dresses and our beds (which we have brought with us, the inns providing no such accommodation), with our serving-men, formed quite a cavalcade for this retired little place, and the people ran to their doors as our cortege passed, and the children followed us. The family welcomed us with old English heartiness ; and after a substantial supper, we gladly retired to rest at the usual hour of

nine.

THE ELIZABETHAN STYLE.

11

Friday . After breakfasting at six o’clock on beefsteaks and ale, we left the family at their household occupations, and sallied forth into the town. There are no shops enclosed from the street ; only the upper windows, which project far over the lower rooms, have glass ; and butchers, clothiers, cobblers, grocers, and haberdashers, sit behind their open stalls, commending their wares and prosecuting their trade as in a bazaar. Neither are there any manufactories, but nearly every one of the low, dark rooms, in which the poorer people live, contains two or three looms, on which they weave a coarse cloth or serge for their own use, or for transport to Brittany the Devonshire weavers being especially per- mitted by law to possess three looms in a family, on account of the trade with the opposite French coast. Indeed, Mr. Carlyle might be happy if he lived in these days, for it is marvellous what trouble the government gives itself about the private affairs of the subject, condescending, with pa- ternal care, to prescribe the number of their dishes and the colour of their clothes, besides accurately weighing out the quantity and quality of their beliefs and disbeliefs ; nothing can be farther removed from the “letting -alone” system.

The town is wonderfully more picturesque than as you know it ; and what with its projecting gables, and windows, and carved beams, the decision and variety of its architec- tural lines, the bold broad contrasts of light and shade the rosy country damsels in their blue linsey-woolsey jackets and petticoats and little white caps, bargaining with the apprentice -craftsmen in their blue doublets and white hosen, and short knife stuck fiercely in the girdle you might fill your sketch-book in a street ; but no one has sketch-books now : and unless some of the old illuminators of the Abbey missals are still living, probably not a person in the town can handle a pencil, although Raphael and Michael Angelo are at this moment painting in Italy. So strangely in this

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OUR TOWN THREE HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

age does tlie light fall in patches, as in these narrow streets.

Not a creature have I seen dressed in anything but woollen, and mostly of a uniform dull blue or friars’ grey. My host, indeed, as a knight, has a right to wear a pinched” or plaited shirt, broidered with gold, and a velvet doublet ; and my hostess, as a knight’s wife, may dight herself in crimson velvet, ruffs, and ermine hat, privileges which they duly exercise on holidays.

The old inmates of the Abbey are all dislodged, but the Abbey buildings are still entire. Part of the old edifice is metamorphosed into a free school, part into cottages, and part is falling into decay. It was strange and sad to pass under the massive gate-house into the large, empty quad- rangle. All great changes come in on the shoulders of some

ruined classes ; and the monks of T deserved unusual

respect and sympathy. Links between our conquered fore- fathers and their conquerors, their Saxon school was long the nursery and the outlet of talent which had none beside. The second printing-press in England was established under their auspices. Their church was adorned with carvings and paintings, not the work of a few months of bustle and machinery, but the patient and loving contributions of the genius, piety, and home affections of centuries. Well ! they had their day, and they lived it, hunting, dining, merry- making, alms -giving, and gathering around them a golden flood, which at length has drowned them and their system. The opinions about their fall are various in the town. The gentry, who have received grants of their lands, revile them; the thriving and industrious craftsmen mostly rejoice at the drones having been turned out of the hive ; . the poor and old, in general, lament them ; the beggars are unanimous in declaring that the sun of England has set for ever over their graves ;” and my little friend, Mabel G1 anvil, who has

THE OLD MONK.

13

embraced with deep enthusiasm the earnest Genevese Pro- testantism, imported by the Marian exiles, gives thanks for the mingling of the false religious with the world, and the scattering of the true salt through it.

As we left the quadrangle, I saw an old man in a monastic habit, sitting on a bench in a sunny corner. I asked who he was, and how he came to wear the garb of the prohibited faith. He was an old monk, they said, who had lived in the Abbey from his earliest boyhood, a poor, harmless, doting old man. At the hours of matins and of even song, he was always to be found kneeling in the silent church, counting his beads and crossing himself, and gazing on the bare altar. They had thrown him into prison more than once ; but on his release he had invariably been found in a few days in his old dress, occupying his old haunts, not from obstinacy or fiery zeal for he was gentle and obedient as a child in all things else but from a necessity of second nature. He had no life separate from the monastery and the monastic routine ; and so, at length, the fiercest assertors of the royal supremacy had taken pity on him and left him alone. I placed a few groats in his hand. He looked up half-unconsciously in my face, and muttered a Latin benediction. I did not despise it ; and looking back, as I passed the gate, I saw a little child bringing him his midday meal.

We had a magnificent dinner, as many courses of meat as Archbishop Cranmer prescribed to be the utmost limit of a bishop’s table, namely, five dishes of meat-pottage, capons, raw smoked ham, and other substantial, followed by three of dessert, or bellctria , as it is elegantly called. We had also some rare and novel delicacies, ajar of pepper handed round to season our meat, a small dish of potatoes, and some cherries, to say nothing of sundry subtleties in sugar and honey, the work of Mabel’s dainty fingers. I cannot, however, reconcile myself to the inconvenience of

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OUR TOWN THREE HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

eating with a knife as clumsy as a butcher’s, and without any fork.

After dinner we went forth in a body to see a goodly show or dramatic entertainment, which was to be performed in the Abbey quadrangle. I went half curious and half dreading what I might see, whether miracle -play or mys- tery,— some representation to the life of apostle or martyr, or Adam and Eve before the fall, or some learned allegory of the Yices and Virtues, and metaphysical entities. But I found such things out of fashion ; and when we reached the area, the people were laughing and shouting immoderately at a very broad burlesque on the ceremonies and ministers of the old religion. The comments and the play itself were spoken in a rough guttural dialect, which I could hardly comprehend ; but, on the whole, I agreed with an old woman, who turned from the spectacle with pious horror, exclaiming,

Well, to my mind, the old saints, bad as they may have been, were better Christians than they who mock them.”

Mabel Grlanvil laid her hand gently on my arm, at that moment whispering,

Will you come to the church and listen to Master Nicolas ? He is one of the exiles who have lately returned from Frankfort, and he reads the Bible every evening to as many as will come and hear him.”

I followed her gladly. The shadows of twilight fell heavily in the old Saxon aisles, and at the western end before the oaken lectern, to which was chained a large black-letter Bible, the reader was standing. He was reading with a clear, slow utterance the .Epistle to the Hebrews. Around him were grouped old men and women, and boys, and fair-haired children, listening in reverent silence. As the Divine words fell on my ear with Master

THE FARM-HOUSE.

15

Nicolas’s simple explanation, and I heard of justification at once perfect and for ever through faith in the eternal Atonement, I forgot all but the touch of Mabel’s sisterly hand.

We then took a few turns on the terraced wall of the Abbey, which overlooks the river. The moon had just surmounted the trees, and shone on the old turrets of the Abbey, and on the shallow ford beneath us, crossing the quadrangle behind us with long shadows.

Who would imagine,” I exclaimed, that beneath the veil of that calm light are hidden the ruins of extinct volcanoes ?”

Did you speak to me ? asked Mabel, starting.

I thought of explaining my words, but remembering that both Reformers and Catholics agreed as to the propriety of burning witches and people possessed of forbidden secrets, I held my peace. What were you thinking of, Mabel ?” I asked, at length, after a long silence.

“I was thinking,” she answered, “what lessons that soft, pure star teaches us ; for are not ive also children of light amidst the darkness ?”

X pressed her hand and looked into her gentle eyes. The messages which Nature bears from God to the believing heart are never obsolete.

On Saturday we started on ponies and horses to visit a rich yeoman, who lives at Romans’ X^eigh, an ancient home- stead, about two miles from the town. The scenery is the same as you know it ; only freer, more park-like, more as in Germany : the heights covered with heath and short sweet grass, over which shepherds and swineherds still guide their flocks ; the valleys rich with meadow -pastures, where the red Devon cattle browse : the hill-sides clothed with thick woods, from which ever and anon rises the white house of the sturdy yeoman or the mud cabin of the peasant.

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OUR TOWN THREE HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

This farmer’s wife received us in her garden with re- spectful courtesy, giving each of us a nosegay of Provence roses and carnations, the fashionable exotics of the day, cul- tivated with many cares in sunny and sheltered nooks.

We were duly regaled with mead, and metheglin, and currant-wine, and honeyed cakes ; and meantime our con- versation was merry and varied. We discussed the altera- tions Sir Francis Drake (born at Crowndale, in this valley) is making in the old Abbey of Buckland, which the Queen has presented to him in acknowledgment of his naval services. We marvelled at the ingenuity of Sir John Hawkins in inventing a new branch of commerce ; namely, that of ex- changing the Moors of Africa for the gold and spices of America, a discovery, in reward whereof it has been granted him to bear a demi-Moor bound with a cord on his escutcheon. We spoke of the defeat of the Popish Armada by our fellow-townsman as complacently as if our own hands had effected it ; and Mabel whispered to me the beautiful motto the Queen has caused to be engraved on the medal commemorating the event, Deus afflavit et dissi- pantur,” for Mabel, like many other ladies of this century, understands Latin, and has read Virgil and Horace, although she has scarcely heard of Spenser or Shakspeare.

In one thing, however, I find the times unchanged. The farmers are still on the brink of ruin. The old men mourn over these days of stone houses and effeminacy, and sigh for the times when England nursed her hardy sons in wattled walls ; when every farm was a little, self-sustained state, living in glorious independence of all other farms; when every woman wove her own petticoat and every man made his own plough.

Now, forsooth,” they say, the rich clothiers and mer- chants buy up our lands, or treat agriculture like their own beggarly trades, handing over our good English wool to the

a lady’s library.

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foreigner, and importing in exchange useless and enervating luxuries, spices, and silks, and sweets ; whilst the poorer yeomen are reduced, by the rise of rents and the intro- duction of these new-fangled methods of farming, to become mere tenant cotters. The Queen has, indeed, endeavoured to stop the evil by commanding that no cottage shall hence- forth be built without having forty acres of land appended to it ; nevertheless, the evil increases. The forests, too, are fast disappearing, and then what will people do for fuel ? The peat and turf will not last for ever ; and, besides, they want to enclose the commons. Some wild schemers, indeed, talk of a new kind of mineral or earth, called sea-coal, as a substitute for wood ; but all sensible men know we might as well rely on burning copper or silver as on that. In short, the yeomanry of England, they whose stout bows saved the nation at Cressy and Poitiers, they whose stout arms have many a time saved the throne and the country since, the noble yeomanry of England are falling ; with her yeo- manry England falls, and with England falls the world.”

Thus soothed by the reflection that even the clothiers and wool-weavers could not survive the general ruin, and by a dish of golden pippins (an exotic fruit, which the good- wife brought out of her store-chamber as an especial treat), we looked forward with philosophical fortitude to the days when Englishmen will have neither com to eat nor fuel to feed their fires.

On our way home, as I rode beside Mabel, I endeavoured to turn the conversation to the literature of the day. Of Shakspeare she knew little, save that he made plays for the Queen. Of Spenser’s Faery Queene she had heard and enjoyed fragments, and her brother was very fond of the poem ; had repeated parts of it to her ; but most people said it was a wild, mad thing, full of hobgoblins, wild beasts, terrible monsters, and enchantments ; and she was half 1 c

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OUR TOWN THREE HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

afraid to venture on it. On the other hand, she was inti- mately acquainted with a host of smaller poets, whose names I had only seen in literary catalogues, and was soon quite beyond my depth in the earnest Christian treatises of Luther, Calvin, Beza, and other foreign Reformers.

On Sunday we breakfasted rather later than usual, in consequence of the greater elaborateness of our toilet. We descended, at length, much to one another’s edification, in all the glory of starched ruffs and slashed sleeves, Dame Glanvil’s tire-woman having learned the abstruse art of starching cambric from the Queen’s own Flemish starching- woman, Mistress Dingham Van der Plasse. We all looked very wooden and uncomfortable, and I felt so ; but Mabel, with her composed and quiet nature, seems instinctively to avoid all extremes, and, in her robe of blue taffetas, with a partlet or habit-shirt of stiff cambric, encircling her round white throat, she looked as natural and as unconscious how she looked as ever.

The good knight’s family have had a new pew or box railed off for them lately in the church, and cushioned with velvet, wherein we