« ForrigeFortsæt »
MYSTERIES OF CITY LIFE.
The dark shadows of the earth, those huge and cumbrous limbs of misshapen clouds, seem to rest more darkly on the homes of the poor, than they do on the mansions of the rich. The sun too, seems to shine less brightly on poverty than it does on riches, the gilded work, and mirrored brightness of costly things, reflects back its rays with a mocking glare, and as they glitter and sparkle, seem to say :-"We
gems of earth, as you are of heaven.”, Yet if the lone heart, and the tortured mind, or the weakened body could look out from their wretched dwellings, and with the eye of moral truth glance at the mellowed light of the setting sun, and watch its lingering rays, they would find that the same light, the same sostening influence extended as far into the dark recesses of their hovels, as they did into the gorgeous chambers of a palace.
It is the human heart, it is the mind, the soul, the man himself who imagines that there are divisions of light, as there are classes among men. Up from the deep caverns of poverty, of wrong, and of oppression, come forth dark and sombre thoughts; the world looks cold and cheerless to a heart that is already chilled. The sun's light looks pale and sickly, and the storm and the tempest seem as if they were made for that heart alone!
The cheerless hearth, the emaciated forms of wife and children, are all dread scenes drawn and pictured by the hand of fate. They are pencilled forth as objects of heaven's vengeance, and anger. Thus the hearts of the
poor become stone, and in pride and poverty, in gloom and in silence, in paleness and in sickness, they look out on the broad bright sunshine as pestilential vapours, and feel as if its light was sent on earth for the rich alone. They shrink too from the storm and tempest, and feel as if they were the icicles of earth hanging superfluous on the branches of the tree of life!
0! how awful it is to have such thoughts, and no one to condole, and console with us under this infliction of mental error. And yet, the good and virtuous have such thoughts, and they pine away and die as if they were no part, or portion of this blessed earth.
Then, of a cold winter's night as the snow flakes wander about on the freezing air, they invariably find out the dwellings of the poor, and the wind whistles, and lashes, and drives more fiercely, darting here and there, passing stately mansions, and creeps, and crawls, and twists itself into the desolate homes of the poor, where snow flakes and wind should never enter, for there, ice, and snow, and desolation reign!
The same wind, cold, and bitter as it is, selects out the half freezing forms as they shiver and shake on their bed of straw, and numb there naked limbs with its icy fingers, then away it goes off and afar, dancing, and playing its tantalizing airs around the hovels of the poor, and telling them the snow, and the hail are winging their flight on the storm and tempest from the frozen North?
It is strange to think of such things, and yet how often have we thought that there was an aristocracy even in the elements !-They like the rich and proud, worry, harass, and oppress the poor, often crushing, and covering them
, with avalanches of snow and ice, break down and into their low dwellings, and like the heartless landlord drive them forth houseless, homeless, friendless. These are sad reflections, and make the heart sad.
There are hours, and days, months and years when the poor enjoy some of the comforts of life, and get glimpses of the earth in its pride and beauty. It is when health is theirs, and the heart is in its right place. Then the sun shines more brightly, the moon's rays are more beautiful and fairy like. The country looks like a dream of paradise, and its meandering brooks the waters of life !—The storms and the tempests touch not the homes of such as these, but pass away, and their music sounds as the voice of Deity.
The rich man chuckles in his earthly paradise, he laughs at the storm and the tempest—what cares he ?Human ingenuity, money, and the art creative," have hemmed around him all the joys and the comforts of life. Yes ! joys, for the rich man lives in a world of his own, and he knows no other, that world he rules, he governs, he is its God! The cries of the poor, are unheeded by him, they live in another world over which he has no power, no control, it is a world beneath him. *
Apart from poverty, which by the way is not the worst of evils, it is in the power of all to be happy. Happiness is as much a part and portion of earth, as are flowers and birds, that grow, and sing upon it. They come into the world with joy, and with music, with smiles and with hope, all is sunshine in their bright short lives. †
* See Leaf Fifth,
+ It is said, that the growth of plants is accompanied with music. There is a beautiful legend connected with the Wild Mandrake (Podophyllum.) See Leaf Thirty-three.
When a boy steps out upon the broad platform of the earth, and gazes upon the opening flowers, and listens to the singing birds, and whistling winds, all is bright and beautiful before him; a glowing picture. lle claps his little hands, and dances with joy, and all things around and about him smile, and seemingly participate in his transports.
Is not this true happiness ? and yet old age, sour and cross, looks on, and far back into the past, with cindered passions in his heart, and he talks of poverty, the almshouse, the work-house, with their bloated overseers, feasting and rioting, at the expense and the cost of the poor !—Then comes limping beggary; and crime with its ghastly looks, dims the smile which for a moment illuminated the face of youth and hope.—The sun becomes as it were darkened, the world looks like a lazar-house, and the people all lepers, ghastly, sickly, palsied, dying! The dreams, or the realities of age
have thrown a cloud over the heart, and dimmed the eyes of the boy.-Why are the young gay dreams of youth thus blighted, and darkness instead of light thrown around his pathway of life? Do the flowers smell less fragrantly, or the birds sing less sweetly, in our age, than they do in our youth? or do they fade away, and die before the fell simoon of time, to bloom, and sing no more?
No! all is the same, but man changes, earth never changes, the living world changes, sin and crime have usurped the place of flowers and birds. A curse rests over all-it is heard in the thunder, and is echoed in storm and tempest. It is seen in the lightning's flash, it is felt on the heart! It goes over the earth in screams, and in shouts, it comes up from the murderer's grave, and the skeleton form on the gibbet rattles, and howls it away, and away o'er the world! Sin hath blighted youth, dimm'd its star of hope, and paled the cheek of the mother in her hour of travail !
Then comes the mysteries of sin, death and the world, hid as they are from mortal eye, truth and the gospel trace them out. They lie in the sinful nature of man, deep embedded in the vile corruption of his nature. To seek them out; to trace up their serpent like forms, has ever been the object of those who can see in the opening flowers, and hear in the singing birds the same beauties, and music which greet youth on the threshold of life. From the pencilled marks of one whose life is devoted to the ameliorating the condition of mankind, many of these leaves are taken, and when the wintry winds whistle, and the snow flakes wander about to seek out the homes of the poor, remember that on the foot-path of the one, and amid the wild music of the other
THE HOME MISSIONARY
No, not alone, for in his hand he holds the Bible; with that the gloom of the sick chamber has been cheered. Its pages have been opened to the sinner, and the celestial pathway made straight. The aged matron has clasped it closely to her heart, and the bright smile, hope's messenger, lit up a holy light in her dimm'd eyes, as they glanced o'er its hallowed pages. The profligate has ceased to scoff, and mock religion, when that holy book met his eye. The Atheist, scorning alike God and man, trembles at the sight of His word. Poverty and crime have forgot their miseries, when the missionary has expounded some of the mysteries of the true faith. The cold, the storm, and the tempest have all been forgotten, when kneeling beside the bed of straw, the missonary's prayer hath gone up on the wings of night, laden with—blessings for the poor! The Bible, what would this earth be without it? It is