Page images



R 1924

"I have read of a bird which hath a face like, and yet will prey upon, a man, who, coming to the water to drink, and finding there by reflexion that he had killed one like himself, pineth away by degrees, and never aster enjoyeth itself. Such was in some sort the condition of - This accident that he had killed one put a period to his carnal mirth, and was a covering to his eyes all the days of his life. Death was so sent to him as to allow him time to rise up on his knees and to crie, 'Lord have mercy upon me.'” Fuller's Worthies, vol. ii., p. 17.


"From each carved nook, and fretted bend,

Cornice and gallery, seem to send
Tones that with Seraph hymns might blend.
" Three solemn parts together twine,
In Harmony's mysterious line,

Three solemn aisles approach the shrine.
“Yet all are one, together all,

With thoughts that awe but not appal,
Teach the adoring heart to fall." CHRISTIAN YEAR.
“But let my due feet never fail
To walk the studious cloister's pale,
And love the high-embowered roof,
With antic pillars massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light;
There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full voiced quire below,
In service high and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness through mine ear
Dissolve me into extasies,
And bring all Heaven before mine eyes.” Miltox.

6. What child of sorrow
Art thou, that com'st wrapt up in weeds of sadness,
And mov'st as if thy steps were towards a grave ?"


24 X 2 21


was on the 15th of October, 18—, that one of the best and most respected clergymen in the town of —, and a canon of the cathedral, turned his steps towards the western door of that ancient pile. It was a little before the hour of evening service; the rays of the declining sun were shining brightly through the windows of painted glass, and producing that mellow and chastened Ellen Middleton.


light that accords so well with the feeling of religious awe, which a gothic edifice, the noblest of the works of man, is calculated to inspire; a work where he has been enabled to stamp on what is material an indelible impress of that spirit of devotion, which unites the utmost simplicity of faith with the highest sublimity of creed.

Mr. Lacy's attachment to this particular cathedral had grown with his growth and strengthened with his years. In his youth he had learnt to love its long deep aisles, its solemn arches, its quaint carvings. During the pauses between the several parts of divine service, his childish imagination would dwell upon the topics of thought suggested by the histories of saints and martyrs depicted in the glowing colours of the stained glass windows, or in the intricate workmanship of the minster screen. The swelling peal of the organ, the chaunting of the choristers, awoke in his young mind strange and bright imaginings of those things “which the eye of man has not seen , nor his ear heard, and that it has not entered into his heart to conceive."

To wander in the cloisters, and gather the flowers growing there among the old tombstones, and 10 think the while of the lilies of the field, which Solomon in all his glory could not equal; or of the wilderness that blossomed like the rose, at the word of the Lord; to collect in his own hands at Christmas as much holly as his puny strength could carry, and add it to the shining heap already standing at the cathedral door; to follow it in, with timid steps, and watch with wondering eyes, the adorning of the altar, the pulpit, the stalls, and the pews; to observe with childish glee two tall branches, all glowing with their coral berries, placed by the bench where he knelt in church with his mother; to sit at home by that mother of an evening, and with his Prayer Book on his knee, learn from her lips how that glorious hymn which he so loved to chaunt in church, and which spoke of angels and martyrs, of saints and apostles, of Heaven and earth, uniting in one concert of adoration, had been bequeathed to the holy church universal by a saint who had served his Creator from the days of his youth , and never wandered from the sacred shade of the sanctuary; for the baptism of another, who, after straying far and wide in the ways of sin and the maze of error, followed the while by a mother's prayers and tears, returned at last to the foot of the cross,

“With that free spirit blest,
Who to the contrite can dispense

The princely heart of innocence;" to hear her tell how the three solemn parts of his beloved cathedral, all approaching the shrine in distinct majesty, and in mystical union, were a type and an emblem of the “Holy, Blessed, and Glorious Trinity,” so devoutly worshipped in the opening verses of the Litany; to be often reminded by her, when the deep melodious bells of the old tower spoke their loud summons to the house of God on festival and holiday, of the time when the faith in Christ was a matter of danger and of death, and the sanctuaries were laid among the vaults and the tombs — when in darkness and in silence Christians koelt on the cold stones, and a short hurried bell from the altar alone warned them of the moment when the blessed pledges of salvation were consecrated there. These were the joys of his childhood. These were the thoughts and the feelings which entwined themselves with his very being, and wound themselves round his heart; blending the memory of the past with the hopes of futurity. And when Mrs. Lacy, whose health had been gradually declining, died soon after her son had received the sacred rite of confirmation, and for the first time knelt by her side at the altar; it was not before her trembling lips had pronounced a blessing on the child, who, with her hand locked in his, and his eyes fixed on hers with the steady gaze of earnest, but, as far as this world was concerned, of hopeless affection, had given her the assurance that her people should be his people, and her God his God; that where she had lived there would he live, there would be die, and there also would he be buried.

As soon as his age warranted it he became a priest; and in the course of time, a canon of the cathedral of What had been the joys of his boyhood, became, afterwards, the safeguards of his manhood, and finally the support and comfort of his declining years. The business of his life was prayer, and the exercise of the

* The Te Deum is supposed to have been composed by St. Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, for the baptism of St. Augustine.

most unwearied and ardent charity. Its ruling principle, love to God, and to man. In the few hours of relaxation which he allowed himself, he found his pleasures in the study of ecclesiastical architecture, of the lives of saints and martyrs, above all, of everything that was in any way connected with the foundation, and the history of the several parts of that minster which he loved with all the holy love which men are wont to feel for the country of their birth and for the home of their youth, and, moreover, with a feeling akin to that which made Jacob exclaim, as he rose from his resting-place at Bethel, “This is the house of God, and the gate of Heaven!”

As I am not writing Mr. Lacy's history, it is unnecessary to enter into further details respecting the events of his life, if events they can be called, that chiefly consisted in the casual opportunities vouchsafed to him, of soothing some extraordinary sorrow; of recalling to the fold of Christ some wandering sioner, and of performing works of mercy and self-denial such as are seldom met with or even heard of in this luxurious and self-indulgent age. I will, therefore, revert to that hour of evening prayer which this chapter began by describing, as it will introduce us at once to the subject of this story.

Mr. Lacy had seated himself in his stall, and his eyes were glancing over the small congregation that had gathered together, on a week-day, for divine worship, when his attention was attracted by a woman who was sitting on one of the benches generally occupied by the poorest inhabitants of the town. She was very simply dressed, in deep mourning; but there was something about her attitude and countenance which plainly indicated that she belonged to the higher classes of society. It was impossible to guess at her age; for although the slightness of her figure and the delicate beauty of her features gave her the ap . pearance of youth, her face bore a wild and haggard expression that we seldom see in those who have not far advanced on their pilgrimage through life. Her arm was thrown against one of the adjoining pillars, and just before the beginning of the service she laid her head upon it, and neither stirred nor looked up during the time the prayers lasted. She neither knelt when others knelt,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »