Page images


with mud, his face bruised, bleeding, and the hand-writing on the wall, against altogether presenting one of the most every creature, and parents will learn pitiable spectacles I ever saw. We laid that their diseases may be their children's him upon a sofa, washed his bruises, and crimes. I do not say this, my dear sir, waited for bim to become sober. I soon to justify myself. I am broken and dediscovered that my miserable patient was stroyed. My standing-place in the world the Rev. James Moreton. Mr. Arnott is gone forever. Ruined and lost, I will had found him in the street, staggering speak a few words of truth and hide mybleeding along, and surrounded by a mob self, that men may forget me, and then of boys. Arnott called a cab and put him they will not point the finger of scorn at in, and he immediately sunk down insen- me. I was born of diseased parents. sible. Of course we could learn nothing The world had disappointed them, and respecting the circumstances that led to worse yet they had wholly disappointed this degradation.

He awoke next morn- each other. My mother lived many ing to shame, remorse and horror, of years, hefore and after my birth, under which no one can form any adequate the influence of wine and opium. She conception, unless he has passed through took them as medicines, and the Church a similar experience. I went early into and the world pitied, rather than blamed, his room. He was ill at ease in my pres. one who was considered a pattern of pience, and asked me for pen, ink and pa- ety. But the blessed fountain of my life per. The next evening a servant that I was poisoned, and I drank in with my had sent to attend him brought me the mother's milk the serpent that has stung, following letter:

and crushed and destroyed me. Oh, my

mother ! fair, and beautiful, and loving “ MY DEAR SIR :-The circumstances wast thou to me, and I feel that I am which have made me your guest fill me tearing the veil of the tomb and desecrat. with unutterable shame. But before you ing thy sacred dust-but not profanely condemn me entirely, allow me to speak do I this. Mothers must hear these to you as a friend, as a brother; and let things. You, my dear Doctor, must warn me entreat you to consider that you too them, as you so well can, and if one life are a man—a fellow worm—that you of suffering such as mine is prevented, may be tempted and fall—and how would angels must rejoice. The precepts of you wish a brother to act toward you if piety which I received from my mother you were now as I am. Look at me, my sunk deep into my heart. An ambition friend, for such you have shown your- was aroused in me to do good, and I reself to be, by giving me shelter from a solved to educate myself for the ministry, world that points a dagger at my every at whatever cost or sacrifice. It is writpore. You see me weak as an infant, ten in the very constitution of things, morally and physically-fallen, oh, how that perseverance shall be forever a kind low! from as proud an eminence as you of limited omnipotence. Though my occupy to-day. Let me tell you a little parents were poor, and could afford me of my history: a little it must be, though very little assistance, I succeeded in obit seem much, for no one's life was taining a classical education, ordination, ever wholly revealed. Could I speak of and a devoted people. I married. I myself alone, I would speak fully and must drop the veil of eternal silence over freely, but my life is interwoven with this portion of my life. Suffice it to say, other lives, and their shame and sorrow, that weakness, and sadness, and trial, rethough mine 10 a sad degree, is not mine sulted in a confirmed state of ill-health, for to reveal. But to you I can speak more which my physican recommended stimufreely; than to another, for your studies lants. I knew, from some excesses in my as a physician have long since made you early life, that so sure as I took his prescripaware ihat the quality of our life, and tion great evil would be the result, but I that of our ancestors, is indicated always was 100 weak to resist the cravings of by our diseases. When once nature’s vast my diseased system. I took the premanual of sign language can be read, hy- scribed remedies. For a time I strove to pocrisy will be as vain as impossible. ter myself that I was better, I was Then the sinner who keeps within the followed continually by an internal conroutine of custom will no longer point viction that no new fire was added to my his finger at his fellow saying, · Stand being. I bad but kindled a strange fire thou by for I am holier than thou.' which should ultimately consume me. I • Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin,' will be soon found that I could produce a marked

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


effect in my pulpit efforts by the use of began slowly to recover. I had been so stimulants. I loved fame, and I now long thrown upon the care of the people came to love it more than life, and I was where I fell ill, that I felt the necessity of reckless as to the expense to my health. laboring as soon as possible. Add to I cared not if I threw away a year's this, I had reason to think that they had health in the preparation of one sermon, not perfect confidence in me. Oh, ibe so that it produced the impression that I dagger of distrust, how it pierced through wished. I drank in praise with greedi- and through my heart! and I left my hosness. I sought every form of mental, pitable care-takers as soon as I was able moral, and material stimulus. If I could to ride. My next field of labor was have distilled the air, and breathed only Washington, D. C. I recollect the painpure oxygen, I would gladly have done ful effort with which I made myself ready it, such was my mania for power to appear in the pulpit there for the first Strange as it may seem, I was satisfied time. My eyes were weak, my face was with homage, or nearly so. But my glazed and red, and my whole appearhome, my every-day life, the miserable ance, with the exception of my hand, Monday that I could not blot from the was revolting. I knew that fame and week! Oh, my dear sir, I turn from the bread depended on my acceptance with contemplation of my life with indescriba- the people. I knew that I'must nerve ble loathing! I am happier to-day than myself to overcome all my difficulties, when ihus deceiving my people and the and not the least formidable was a threadworld as to my real character. Oh, the bare wardrobe. I smoothed my hat caremoral incubus of a lie upon the con- fully with a silk handkerchief ; I sponged science, daily lived ! It clutches the vi- my coat with alcohol ; I turned my cra. tals with fingers of fire, and any open vat, and rejoiced in the decency of my reality is better than the life that we boots, after they had been through the feign, and the exposure that we fear. hands of a professional boot-black. I Time like a wounded snake dragged bathed my face and eyes for a long time, its slow length along. I hated myself but the blood would not leave my face. for seeming what I was not, for 1 bad I became so exhausted with the necesbecome, in no very long time, a drunk- sary exertion, that I fell half fainting ard. And yet I stood before my people upon my bed within fifteen minutes of as one to be revered and imitated. My the time that I must leave for the church. constitution must have been originally It seemed to me an impossibility for me Tery strong, for I sustained myself and per- to support myself through the preliminaformed my pastoral duties during four ry exercises, to say nothing of the serseemingly interminable years. That mon. I was in an agony of despair, yet Fourth of July oration which introduced half sainting with weakness. I was me to you, my dear sir, was the last amongst strangers at a hotel. I must weight in the balance against me. I sunk preach, or how should I get bread for in the illness from which your kind care the present hour, or sustain my wife and rescued me. I now saw that I could children? I could not tell my horrible neither labor, nor blind my friends as for- secret to any one. There was no balm in merly. I determined to travel, for the os- Gilead, and no physician there for ills like tensible purpose of recovering my health, mine. In the misery of the moment I but really because I saw no way to turn. rose, seized a bottle of cologne, and drank I realized the truth of the poet's words : a large draught of it. I was almost in* Each way I fly is hell,

stantly exhilarated. I felt an unnatural And in the lowest depths

' a lower deep, strength. I walked without the least efStill threatening to devour me,

fort, when ten minutes before it had Opens wide.'

seemed impossible for me to lift my hand

or take a step. I had selected one of my “I spent nearly two years in visiting most impassioned sermonsone which 'I different cities, and though decidedly and had written when I was so far intoxicatpainfully ill, I produced a great effect in ed that I could not have spoken plainly: all places where I labored. I still used I entered the church. Soft music breathed stimulants in as large quantities as I could around me-everything, seemed radiant and conceal the fact from those about me. with reflected light. My intoxication A second attack of brain fever again lasted till the services were nearly over. brought me to the verge of the grave. I walked with trembling and unsteady After several weeks of intense suffering I steps to my hotel. My fortune was made by this most desperate and success. as possible, and drank a large quantity ful effort. Calls and invitations poured in eager haste. My brain reeled-my in upon me. I was feted and flattered to life became a blank. the last degree for some four weeks; and I had good hopes that my fatal secret was not discovered. But I was morbidly “ When I recovered my senses I was in sensitive to all impressions, and I at bed. A lady sat by my side weeping length felt, or fancied, that distrust had most bitterly. My memory was gone. entered the minds of some of those with I only knew the present. I asked the whom I met. I was ill, exhausted and lady why she grieved, with a very earndepressed to the last degree that could est sympathy. At first she could not allow the least exertion, and yet another answer me, but after some time she said, Sabbath was approaching, and again I whilst her tears fell fast, and her uttermust appear before an audience that in- ance was broken by many sobs, I spired me with a mortal terror. I dared grieve that every earthly hope and prom. not look any one in the face. I felt, like ise must be disappointed. I pondered Cain, that every one who should see me the answer, and on a sudden the convicwould slay me. And yet I must go into tion that she referred to me flashed across the pulpit and speak to this people. I my mind. Slowly my recollection reshuddered and shrunk from the work be- turned; I became conscious where I was, fore me, but it must be done. I went what I was; and I remembered the last into the pulpit again, trembling with act before I lost my consciousness. I weakness and fear, and the most indefin- looked up and said, O woman ! last at able dread of all things. I had drunk the cross, and earliest at the tomb! I wine and brandy, and I had smoked till am not wholly forsaken. Tell me all, I the atmosphere of my room was palpa- beg you. Indeed I can bear it. Any ble. But all my efforts availed nothing – reality must be better than the dread that I could not rouse myself I sunk lower has haunted my life so long.' and lower every moment. A dying sick- “ She told me as gently, as kindly as ness came over me, and I never could tell possible, that I had been found intoxihow I reached the pulpit; but I found my- cated directly after the public worship, self there, and read a hymn with which on Sunday, that I had attacked and I was familiar, hardly seeing a word of wounded the waiter who discovered me, it. I rose to pray-- could not begin, he having answered an insane ringing of and had my salvation depended on my my bell. I had thrown my empty brandy praying for it, I could not have done it. decanter at him, and made some other I repeated the Lord's Prayer, and read offensive demonstrations, and had then my sermon. The contrast between its sunk in drunken apoplexy, from which, burning words, and my calm feeble enun- after three days insensibility, I had just ciation must have been startling. Strong recovered. I heard all this in the still men wept, and the whole audience was calm of despair. Nothing worse could melted into one great heart. It was a come to me. I had nothing to fear, for triumph of which power might have been death was a blessing too great for me to proud. Senators and men of mark’ pray for. sistened to me with absorbed attention ; “ Miss Thornton was one of those whose they hung breathlessly upon my words, only blessing is to bless others. She had and I am sure but one feeling prevailed lived what the world calls a self-sacri. when I closed—a feeling of sorrow that ficing life, because she had given her the sermon was ended. I know this to time and sympathy and money to the be true, for it came to me afterward from distressed. But she obeyed the law of an authority that I could not doubt. her being, and any other life would have When I left the desk several whom I been indeed a sacrifice to her. She had thought had distrusted me, took me by come to me as soon as she heard of my the hand. Half blinded with weakness exposure, and had assisted the physician and pain I dragged myself to my hotel. in his efforts to relieve me of the poison How I could ascend the stairs was my of the alcohol. With a care and kindonly thought. My feet seemed to me to ness that seemed superhuman to me, she weigh tons. Fortunately I encountered watched over me and counseled me. I a waiter, told him I was ill, and begged was utterly helpless. I had no money, his assistance, and thus reached my no strength, no character. I had lost room. I ordered some brandy as soon my all; and in the very hour when the



Christian kindness of the Church was looking up I saw a frightful red eye most needed, I received---not a call from glaring upon me from a bright green a Christian friend—not help or sympathy cheek. The man to whom this borrible -but a letter from one of the Board of cheek and eye belonged, was small, and Trustees of the Church, simply informing dressed in snuff-colored clothes, and one me that after what had happened they of his feet was like the foot of an ox. I could not again open the church to never once doubted its being a real bodily me.'

presence : I no more thought that it was “ I thought of my paternal home-of a hallucination, or an optical illusion, my mother. She would be heart-broken, than I now think it was real. I strugbut I must go to her. No one seemed to gled to disengage the hand, but it was think me worth any attention now, but impossible—though when I was perfectMiss Thornton. To the many I had ly still the pressure was relaxed.. I knew been a sort of prodigy, to fill their inane that I was ihrottled by the Devil, and I life with wonder and praise ; and now strove to devise some way to get loose. gossip and scandal took the place of these, Presently he began to talk to me. He and I, though the fruitful theme of con- taunted me with my holy office, and the versation, might have sunk into hell lying life that I had led. without their lifting a hand, or raising a “: Even the Devil,' said he, 'would prayer for me. Forgive me, my dear have loathed such a life. You to profess sir, if I speak strongly. I have suffered to stand between man and his Maker, too deeply to speak otherwise. But and teach the heavenward way, when Miss Thornton was my guardian angel. the reeking steam from your poisoned She advised, directed and assisted me, body, and still more miserably poisoned and I clung to her as an infant to its mo- spirit, rose up the very smoke from the ther. God gave her to my need. I left bottomless pit; and your the city as soon as possible for the home must breathe the moral and material poi. of my mother, who resided in northern son that surrounds you ; and do not New York. It seemed impossible for think that they can escape unscathed me to travel in my extremely feeble con. from its influence. Know, vile fool, if dition, but it was a greater impossibility one being on the earth were exhaling to remain where I was. I loathed and moral and physical pollution, all beings dreaded everything about me, and I was near or remote must absorb their disease really conscious of only one wish, viz., and sin.' I tried to speak, but he graspto escape from Washington. I did not ed my throat so firmly, that I could only then realize that I might change the place breathe with the greatest difficulty, and and keep the pain.' When I parted from he went on: • You thought that it was Miss Thornton, and received from her enough to talk of heaven, and conhands money to bear my expenses home, ceal your sin. But men are never I was in a deep stupor; but the fountain saved by sbams, and such a vile sham of my tears was unsealed, and I wept. as you is fit only for Me,' and he pressed There was something like relief in being my throat till I fell forward in a fit

. But able to weep. I thought, Miss Thornton I cannot tell the half of the horrors that will not think me wholly lost, for I can beset me on this terrible journey. God yet weep.

only knows how I survived it. That “For a time after I entered the coach fiery eye was always fixed on me, and remained in the state of stupor, then I my throat was never free for a moment, was aroused by persons conversing re- though at times there was somewhat less specting me. The voices were those of of the pressure. I cannot speak of my my friends at a distance—my wife's rela- home. 'My mother is at rest now. She tives—and, what may seem strange, I saw me a blasted wretch. She knew that learned afterwards that they were really she had given me the appetite that had saying at this time the very words which destroyed me-and she died. I heard them say, though they were 200 miles distant. Í listened to iheir revil. ings till I was maddened, for I supposed “ The stunning blow of my mother's that all my fellow.passengers heard the death, the soothing influences of home, same. I endured in silence as long as joined with the effect of a revival, kept possible, and then started to call the me entirely abstinent from stimulants for driver, or jump out of the coach. In a a considerable time. At length I gained moment I felt my throat grasped, and so much strength, that I began to think

of some way to gain a living, for I knew sustain Mr. M. by the closest economy, I was fallen forever from the clerical pro- was offered. The offer was gladly acfession. My will wavering exceedingly, cepted,and Moreton soon entered upon his I at last determined to become an author. duties. He was now removed some three Under the hallucination that I might live miles, and was out of the sphere of my by my writings, I determined to come to immediate and absorbing duties. Notthis city. My dear friend, Miss Thorn- withstanding the deep interest I felt in ton, with whom I had corresponded from him when he was before me, I soon forthe time I reached home, begged me not got him. The mind can only be full. to leave home till. I was stronger. But Once only, that I recollect, was Moreton home had become such a miserable mo- recalled to my mind for any length of time notony that I could endure it no longer. during several years; though I might have Three weeks since I came here. Of thought of him many times, and probably course I was disappointed in all my I did. But this once he was recalled by hopes—my slight means were soon ex. reading his wife's death in one of the city hausted and the result you know. 1 papers. Arnott had removed to the west; drank to forget myself, and life, and all and, as I incidentally learned, he left with things; I know not even who brought a good deal of impatience that his favorme to you; I know that the good Lord ite mode of improving the masses had caused me to be brought, and I thank not been more rapidly successful. Six Heaven, and you, with my whole being, or seven years had passed since I had for the blessing of kindly care at such a first listened to Moreton before the ly. time as this. I must return again to my ceum. I must confess that I was narfriends-again be blotted from the world, rowed to the cares, and duties, and symand eat the bread of dependence. Life pathies of my profession. I seldom went and time are insupportable burdens, and out of the city. I was chained to work, could I be sure of escaping from life, I and it was well for me that I found my would leave time this very hour. But, . happiness in it. In winter I congratualas ! I feel all too deeply that I can ne- lated myself that town was always more ver escape from myself."

pleasant than the country. There was

less of drifting snow, and piercing winds Poor Moreton ! I read his letter with could not sweep through walls of brick great interest; I wished to help him and granite. Then there were all sorts earnestly. But what could I do? He of lectures, and musical soirees, festiwanted occupation. He had energy and vals, &c., which I seldom attended, but ability to guide and control a nation, but which one might congratulate oneself such were the conditions that surrounded upon the chance of attending. I often him, that he could do nothing. No hon- thought, I will see our city, and the next orable field of usefulness was open to him. thing I saw after this resolve, was the He had not been taught, at college, to la- original of the Poets picture: bor. His lady's hand could not grasp the

“ Within a closely curtained room, axe or the plough. He could write ser

Filled to faintness with perfume, mons and orations, but who wishes to hear hoinilies from a drunkard's lips.

A lady lay at point of doom.” Temperance societies, in which horrible I dreamed of green fields and babbling experiences form the most available capi. brooks, and buttercups, and cowslips, tal, were not then in fashion. He could and the noble woods, each tree of which write essays and poems, but the market was to me a perfection, but I satisfied was glutted with such articles from ac- myself with a cool matted parlor, far up cepted American writers, and any lack town, with its blinds always keeping out could be supplied by literary piracy upon sun and dust, and a bath adjoining, foreign authors. I could see no way to where I “ got up” an artificial brook wat make my patient available, without in the shortest possible notice.” There was volving him in the monotonous life that a very beautiful park near my house, but would insure the use of stimulants. At I never entered it unless it was the shortlength Arnott proposed to make him

li- est way through it to a patient. One brarian of his protégé, the lyceum. The evening, just as the setting sun was library was small, and the duties almost throwing a golden glory over everything nominal; but then he suggested to More- around, I entered the park. A young ton that he could fill up his leisure by man had lock-jaw on the farther corner. writing. A salary, merely sufficient to I hurried on, yet I could not but see that

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »