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THE BOY CONFESSOR.

41

The breathing miracle into silence passed :
Never to stretch wee hands, with her dear smile :
As soft as light-fall on unfolding flowers ;
Never to wake us crying in the night :
Our little hindering thing for ever gone,
In tearful quiet now we might toil on.
All dim the living lustres motion makes !
No life-dew in the sweet cups of her eyes !
Naught there of our poor "Splendid " but her brow.

The world went lightly by and heeded not
Our death-white windows blinded to the sun-
The hearts that ached within—the measureless loss-
The idol broken-our first tryst with death!
O Life, how strange thy face behind the veil !
And stranger still will thy strange mystery seem,
When we awake in death and tell our dream.

THE BOY CONFESSOR.

A noble army-men and boys,

The matron and the maid,
Around the Saviour's throne rejoice,

In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of Heaven,

Through peril, toil, and pain !
O God ! to us may grace be given

To follow in their train."

In the noble army of Martyrs we find enrolled the names not only of strong men, but of timid and gentle women, who

out of weakness were made strong," and of youths and maidens who, overcoming their childish fears, arose to a height of heroic fortitude

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which filled their persecutors with wonder. Amongst these Cyril, who "witnessed a good confession" in the persecution under Valerian (A. D. 257), claims a place.

His father was an idolater. Incensed by the boy's refusal to join in the sacrifices, he treated him with the utmost cruelty and turned him out of doors. The governor, hearing of this, ordered

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Cyril to be brought before him. At first he tried the effect of kindness. “My child," he said, “abandon these follies, and I will not only pardon you, but persuade your father to receive you again.”

“I rejoice in suffering reproaches for what I have done,” said the fearless boy; “God has not cast me off. He will still receive

THE THREE SONS.

43

me.

When my father and my mother forsake me, He will take me up. I renounce earthly possessions, that I may receive the heavenly inheritance. I fear not death itself, because it will bring me to the better life.”

Finding persuasion unavailing, the governor tried threats. He gave orders that Cyril should be removed, his hands bound as though for immediate execution, and that the sword and the fire which awaited those who were obstinate in their refusal to sacrifice should be shown to him. This was done, and the governor again exhorted him to recant his Christian profession, saying, “My child, you have seen both the fire and the sword. Be wise, and return to your father and your home.”

But Cyril replied: “I fear neither the fire nor the sword. God is

my Father. Put me to death without delay, that I may the sooner go to Him.” The spectators wept aloud as they beheld the undaunted youth. Turning to them he said: “Weep not for me ;

. rather rejoice. You know not how glorious a kingdom I am going to possess.” And so he was led away to the place of execution.

THE THREE SONS.

I HAVE a son, a little son, a boy just five years old,
With eyes of thoughtful earnestness and mind of gentle mould ;
They tell me that unusual grace in all his ways appears,
That my child is grave and wise of heart beyond his childish years.
I cannot say how this may be ; I know his face is fair,
And yet his chiefest comeliness is his sweet and serious air ;
I know his heart is kind and fond, I know he loveth me,
And loveth, too, his mother dear with grateful fervency.

But that which others most admire, is the thought that fills his mind,
The food for grave inquiring speech he everywhere doth find.
Strange questions doth he ask of me when we together walk,
He scarcely thinks as children think, or talks as children talk.
Nor cares he much for childish play, doats not on bat or ball,
But looks on manhood's ways and works, and aptly mimics all.
His little heart is busy still, and oftentimes perplexed
With thoughts about this world of ours, and thoughts about the next.
He kneels at his dear mother's knee, she teacheth him to pray,
And strange, and sweet, and solemn then are the words which he will say.
Oh! should my gentle child be spared to manhood's years like me,
A holier and a wiser man I trust that he, will be ;
And when I look into his eyes, and stroke his thoughtful bro'v,
I dare not think what I should feel were I to lose him now.

I have a son, a second son, a simple child of three,-
I'll not declare how bright and fair his little features be,
How silver sweet those tones of his when he prattles on my knee;
I do not think his light blue eyes are like his brother's keen,
Nor his brow so full of childish thought as his hath ever been ;
But his little heart's a fountain pure of mild and tender feeling,
And his very look 's a gleam of light, rich depths of love revealing.
When he walks with me, the country folk who pass us in the street,
Will shout for joy, and bless my boy, he looks so mild and sweet.
A playfellow he is to all, and yet with cheerful tone,
Will sing his little song of love when left to play alone.
His presence is like sunshine, sent to gladden home and hearth,
To comfort us in all our grief, and sweeten all our mirth;
Should he grow up to riper years, God grant his heart may prove
As meet a home for heavenly grace as now for earthly love;
And if beside his grave the tears our aching eyes must dim,
God comfort us for all the love that we shall lose in him.

THE THREE SONS.

45

I have a son, a third sweet son, his age I cannot tell,
For they reckon not by months and years where he is gone to dwell;
To us for fourteen anxious months his infant smiles were given,
And then he bade farewell to earth, and went to live in heaven.
I cannot tell what form is his, what looks he weareth now,
Nor guess how bright a glory crowns his shining seraph brow;
The thoughts that fill his sinless soul, the bliss which he doth feel,
Are numbered with the secret things which God will not reveal ;
But I know, for God doth tell me this, that he is now at rest
Where other blessed infants be on their Saviour's loving breast;
I know his spirit feels no more this weary load of flesh,
But his sleep is blest with endless dreams of joy for ever fresh ;
I know that we shall meet our babe, his mother dear and I,
When God himself shall wipe away all tears from every eye.
Whate'er befalls his brethren twain, his bliss can never cease,
Their lot may here be grief and care, but his is certain peace.
It may be that the tempter's wiles their souls from bliss may sever,
But if our own poor faith fail not, he must be ours for ever.
When we think of what our darling is, and what we still may be,
When we muse on that world's perfect bliss and this world's misery,
When we groan beneath this load of sin, and feel this grief and pain,
Oh! we'd rather lose our other two than have him here again.

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