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Probably, religion never was at a lower ebb in England than it was precisely at that period, for there were then few pious books for children or young people, though many were coming out, with great names who set up Reason as the supreme guide of life, and the absence of its influence as the greatest disgrace to the juvenile character. If any catechisms were then used in the superior schools, they were generally compiled in the French language, and so strange was the sight of a Bible in Mrs. St. Leger's house, that when poor Barbara produced her little copy, which had descended from Horace Langford to herself, she was hooted by all the young ladies and teachers, and never afterwards could read that sacred volume but by stealth.
But all was good and all was right, whilst every thing which happened to the gentle child, in that worldly seminary tended only to keep her distinct and separate from evil companions, and to enable her in much inexperience, in much languor and feebleness, from failing health, in all that foolishness which is bound up in the natural heart of a child, to be a faithful channel to that Living Rill which, by the divine blessing had passed from her uncle Jocelyn to herself, and eventually to pour it fresh, sparkling, and uncontaminated, into that vessel which was prepared to receive it, as we shall see in the following number.
M. M. S. (To be continued.)
THE THREE WORDS. The reader is very probably somewhat curious to know whence we obtained the information respecting Emma Singleton, which has been detailed in the two last chapters, nor is it likely that his curiosity will be much abated, when we acquaint him with the fact, that to Mr. Singleton and his niece, we are indebted for a knowledge of its leading incidents. By a singular coincidence, which we need not more particularly advert to, Emma became, on leaving Mr. Glosenfane's, an inmate of our own family, and for some little time our interviews with her uncle were by no means infrequent. But at length, thoroughly satisfied that we were in no danger of being led away by the errors of Puseyism, and would watch over his niece, as those
« who must give an account,” he consented to leave her under our roof, with many anxious and urgent instructions, as to the future direction and discipline of her mind. She was accordingly one of our little circle when the incidents about to be described took place.
“Well Charles," said Mrs. Enderby, one lovely morning in April, as we were seated at breakfast, “ we have never yet resumed our discussion on Education ; have you guessed my riddle?”
“Not I,” I answered, carelessly, “ there are more ways than one of getting over a difficulty; perhaps I may work out your problem, instead of guessing it. If I find out the thing itself, the words are but of little consequence.”
“ Then you really do not feel much curiosity about it ?” said my wife laughing.
"Oh! dear no; I leave that to the ladies : we of the sterner sex are not over-curious. I must tell you, however, frankly, that I have thought a good deal upon the subject, and had planned a project for this morning, which may throw a little farther light upon it.”
Here the conversation dropped, and the breakfast hour having passed off, the household assembled for family reading and prayer. The lesson for that day was Job xxviii., a chapter so apposite, as introductory to the business of this paper, that I must here transcribe a part of it.
“Where shall Wisdom be found,
The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it,
When He made a decree for the rain,
THE FEAR OF THE LORD—THAT IS WISDOM,
“ Well! Charlotte," I remarked, after we had concluded the devotions of the morning, “I think we can be at little loss as to some of the leading elements of Education now. Here is our Base Line at all events ; whatever we may find to say of bearings, and measurements by and bye. God tells us plainly enough in the chapter we have just read, what Wisdom and Understanding are; and He tells us at the same time, that man neither knows the value of them, nor where to find them, till enlightened from above. He may be a miner, an agriculturist, a manufacturer, a chemist, a geologist, or an engineer; he may plough the ocean, ransack the earth, and be far-sighted as the fowls of heaven, without possessing such an education as the God of Truth can recognize, for He only understands and knows the true source and character of wisdom ; and the way which it may be best imparted to his creatures.
Emma listened with deep attention. Perhaps she thought, that had she been content to learn of God only, in matters of religion, she would have been preserved from falling into temptation, and have escaped the sad consequences which had “ pierced her through with many sorrows." And probably she remembered her uncle's words, that a deference to human authority, was the one fatal error, in which all her subsequent defections from the truth of the gospel had originated. But whatever reflections might have occupied her mind, they were for a time suspended, by the suggestion that I had some particular business to transact at a little distance; and the invitation to herself and my wife to accompany me thither.
Every thing out of doors looked certainly most inviting. It was one of those balmy days which are of rare occurrence in the capricious month of April. The clouds
“Now huddling, now dispersing,
and now shutting out the sun, and now revealing him in his full glory, chequered the wide landscape with that agreeable variety of light and shade which is so characteristic of the early Spring. The wind was soft and mild as that of June; the bees were out, and the flowers, as if rejoicing in the opportunity, exhaled their sweets in the warm sunshine more lavishly than they had yet done. You felt, as soon as the window was opened, an earnest of the coming on of summer; and could now realize, what you might have doubted but a day or two before, that the time of the singing of birds was again near. We had contemplated a walk over the hills, to a village where we had some special business to transact with an acquaintance; and the morning being favorable, we were glad to avail ourselves of it.
Our eldest boy begged hard to go with us, and as we saw no objection, was allowed to make one of the party. We crossed field after field, till finding the heat was becoming oppressive, we screened ourselves behind a fragrant hedge-row. The hills before us, chequered by the shadows of the flying clouds, looked nearer than we found them to be, but at length we reached the brow of that over which our path lay. Pausing to look round us on the scenery we had passed through, we saw an old stile in the hedge on our right hand, sufficiently shadowed by two tall elms, one on either side, to make it an agreeable resting-place. As for little Charley, he was so busied in the fruitless attempt to dislodge a mole, which he had followed home to its run, that he had no wish to join us. He soon, however, rushed up in haste, alarmed by shouts coming from the opposite side of the hill, which were immediately followed by the appearance of two or three workmen, hurrying with all speed towards a temporary shed, formed in a small excavation on the shelving bank, a little beyond us. We too had heard the shouts, and as far as we could make them out, they indicated danger of some sort. Fancying, however, that we were far enough out of the way, we took Charley under our protection and sat still. Not many seconds had elapsed before we saw a jet of white smoke rise to a great height from over the hill, and soon after heard a harsh rattling rush, like an explosion, followed by the descent of various fragments of stone apparently from the atmosphere, for from the rapidity of their motion, we had not seen them hurled upwards. The workmen had just blasted an impracticable mass of stone in the adjacent quarry ; and the danger being now over, we were induced by the entreaties of our boy, to deviate so far from our original intention as to turn our steps in that direction. The quarry was now only worked on a small scale, and the greater part of it being overgrown with brushwood and fern, interspersed with ivy and luxuriant wild flowers, presented many picturesque points, and inviting dingles. Winding in and out among these, as we followed the old road leading down to that part of it which was still productive, we stopped occasionally to gather a flower, to admire some striking coup d'ail, or to listen to the twitter of the birds, which seemed to be now tuning for the concerts of the coming month. The strata rose high above us, the sun-light as it slanted down into the vast hollow, bringing out in bold relief the salient crags, and glittering on the wings of the sand martens, that wheeled, and shrieked, and flitted in and out of their nests, in the perpendicular cliffs of sand, capping the firmer and more marketable stone below.