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And then, ''Tis time the open space we braved

And left the wood; now follow thou my guiding;

The brinks for us a path unburnt have saved,
And lo, above them all the heat subsiding.'

(To be continued.)




A GRAND martyr-hymn, and a village incident-how characteristically they come together from him who loved to link the pure souls of infants made holy, with the much tried spirits of them who came out of great tribulation.

A little girl at Ampfield was left to tend the baby at home; her dress caught fire, and the burns proved fatal; but the suffering did not last to the end of her life, and her last entreaty was to be lifted on her mother's lap, to fall asleep there. Such was the origin of the verses headed ‘Fire,' which find their place among Children's Troubles, and which, no doubt, have been turned to by many a mourner for some little sufferer, whose death may seem less piteous after the reminder that it was wearing the martyr's robe. The description of the child herself is one of the sweetest simplest bits of description of the village little ones so much loved

• We miss thee in thy place at school,

And on thy homeward way,
Where violets by the reedy pool

Peep out so shyly gay;

Where thou, a true and gentle guide,

Wouldst lead thy little band-
With all an elder sister's pride,

And rule with eye and hand.'

The scene is all there—the quiet lane, with the green banks overhung by trees; and the dark pond, half shadowed by them, half enhancing their brightness; and the party of children of all sizes returning to their remote hamlet, climbing the banks, or trolling their hoops, under the motherly supervision of the young elder, with her ever ready smile and curtsey.

That final comparison of the painless termination to the death of martyrs of yore, is perhaps a reference to the quietness and absence of terror and suffering, so remarkable in the deaths of Perpetua, Felicitas, and the other martyrs of Carthage.

The atmosphere of martyrdom is truly about the whole day; as well it may be, when our learning from that which was written of old is of those who "stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of the flame,' and became the example and encouragement of those who, having actually “received the promise,' could be borne safely through the flamenot back to the weary world, but to the blessed company who follow the Lamb.

'I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.' So spake the first witness unto blood, and so has it been with every true martyr since.

• Is he alone in that dark hour,
Who owns the Lord of love and power ?'


Again, we think of Felicitas' reply, ‘Christ will suffer with me'-of Blandina's peaceful joy on her chair of torment of the endless number of tales of

• A glorious army-men and boys,

The matron and the maid

who were upheld almost visibly; and who excited the amaze of the beholders by the calmness and joy with which they underwent all that malignity could devise.

Then—sometimes when the persecutor has erred from ignorance alone, as did Nebuchadnezzar, and when there is no wilful hardness of heart, comes the perception that One is walking with them in the waters, or hindering the flame from kindling upon them, making the rush of flame as it had been a moist whistling wind.' There was a young man who knew not Who it was of Whom Stephen spake, and stopped his ears against the supposed blasphemy—but who in his old age was to write,

At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me; ... notwithstanding the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.'

He knew—and there are those still who know by experience Who stands by them, and strengthens them. We cannot mar the description of the widow, the father, the pastor, by paraphrase. Blessed be God that to so many of us the description will recall saints whom we ourselves have watched awhile, as they leant on the Hand of the Saviour walking with His faithful three.'

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The poem of this day in The Christian Year is difficult and sublime. Sir John T. Coleridge connects it with this sentence, in a letter written from Malvern, “What a delightful feel it is to sit under the shelter of one of the rocks here, and hear the wind sweeping with that peculiar kind of strong moaning sigh which it practises on the bent-grass. I dare say you hare marked it a hundred times, but I was never so much struck with it



as this evening.' No doubt the description of the romantic note and clear,’ is a versified memory of this experience; but there is a tradition among other friends that the actual scenery comes from Plinlimmon, and the Malvern Hills do not fulfil the condition of wildness. We believe unbotanical readers have often been puzzled by the word bent—but Mr. Keble was always exact in his use of terms for the plant world. A bent is the straw or blossoming stem of any kind of grass when dry and withered; and 'bent-grass' is the genus called Agrostis, which grows on heaths and barren places, putting up a profusion of bunches of soft, silky, almost linear, leaves, and a small delicate spike of blossoms, like a fairy oat.

Having said this, I proceed to copy a part of a much simplified paraphrase made for the use of quite young people, by one of Mr. Keble’s best and most like-minded friends :


'I remember once standing on a very high hill, from whence I looked down into deep and beautiful valleys and meadows, and saw a great many more hills that looked very blue. I did not see any living creature, and I heard no sound but that of the wind whistling through the grass, or the streams that were far below me running fast over the pebbles, or sometimes the tinkling bell of the sheep that were feeding on the sides of the hill where I could not see them. Once a great kite flew past me, and I heard the flapping of its wings and its wild cry. It seemed to me that, in that great stillness and loneliness, I ought to listen more to the Voice of God; I mean that I ought to listen more to the words that are written in His Book, and to the feelings which He puts into our minds. He spoke to the Israelites by a voice which they could hear; but He speaks to us, quite as plainly, through His written Word, and through our own consciences.'

That Voice speaks to each individual Christian, in his hours of being convinced of sin,' as it did of old, through Micah, to all Israel :

• Child of My love, how have I wearied thee,

Why wilt thou err from Me ?
Have I not brought thee from the house of slaves,

Parted the drowning waves,
And set My Saints before thee in the way,

Lest thou shouldst faint or stray ?' Brought from the dominion of Satan, led through the waves of Baptism, with saints, and far more than saints, before us as our example, how can we complain, even if trouble press upon us? Have we any reason to expect exceptions to be made on our account? Are not afflictions common to man? Are we to be heirs of glory without grief or pain ? The present cross is exactly fitted for our bearing ; but if we shrink from it or reject it, by-and-by-as in the emblem in the Baptisteryif we will not accept the cross sent us by an Angel, the devil will impose a heavier weight. Consolation is easily to be had, if we will but look up, and think of the future-nay, of our present security, that He Who gave His own Son to us will withhold nothing from us. Indeed, as the space stretching far and wide to the horizon, the multitudinous details of the earthly landscape, and the vastness of the sky above, are all gathered in, and pictured together in the tiny mirror of the eye for each of us—so the great eternal Works of God from before the foundation of the world, all relate to each single person; and, as far as he is concerned, centre upon him and his salvation, as much as if there were no other being in existence.

So should we feel the Voice of God pleading with our wilful heart.

*Church Bells. It is a Christmas hymn that seems to have come astray into this autumn Sunday, out of the wealth at Christmas. There is a sweet chime in it, of the bell voices that tell of the holy joys of Christmas—and bear on their echoes in the loving ear. The remarkable fact so often recurring, of wanderers in the desert, or sailors at sea, hearing, as it seemed to them, the familiar chimes of their native village, here comes in

• The dim peal in the torrent seems to dwell,
It greets us in the ocean's measured swell.'

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Or again, the murmuring breeze, or the burning wood on the hearth, mimic the chimes ;' or even the 'seething waters,' 'in prison wont to dance and sing. And, above all, (here we have a touch of 'Hursley Cathedral,' the lovely vaulted beech-wood)—

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Be mine at Vesper hour to stray

Full oft that way;
And when the dreamy sounds decay,
As with the sun the gale dies down,
Then far away from tower or town,

A true peal let me hear :
In manifold melodious cheer

Through all the lonely grove-
Wafting a fair good-night from His high love,
Who strews our world with signs from His own world above.'

Thus we need never envy those who dwell near the wilder and grander glories of nature, nor deem that they alone are favoured by echoes of God's Voice. The simplest sounds weave themselves, to the faithful ear, into repetitions of the church peals that welcomed us to our Baptism. So the same Word of God, ever changing, ever the same, is with us all our life long, speaking to us in everything-since God is over us ever like His sky—often apparently different to us, always the same.


AGAIN we find the peculiarity we had before observed, that the poetry of Mr. Keble's advanced life is brighter and more joyous than that of his younger days. Who could have thought ‘The Redbreast' the

of youth, and · Dressing Up'the poem of age ? The difference is, in this


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case, no doubt, that in the one he looked at his own feelings; in the other be resembled the good school-master, who was wont to uncover his head before the possible future of his scholars—or, rather, the homage here paid is to their present baptismal purity. Whatever tempests may be lowering around, a young child has its holiness, and has within it the possibility of a saint. And to discern and enjoy such hopes, was the privilege of the temper, that had begun by training itself in the grey calm of this perfectly-pictured October morning; still, dewy, motionless, the leaves sere but not yet fallen-and the silence only broken by the quiet cheery note of the robin red-breast.

Sweet messenger of calm decay,

Saluting sorrow as you may-
As one still bent to find or make the best.

In you, and in this quiet mead,

The lesson of sweet peace I read,
Rather in all to be resigned than blest.'

How many have learnt this lesson from this very verse; how many there are who read it in such recurring autumn mornings, and hear it, as the red-breast sings his clear low song! Not to look for pleasure or joy, but to take all as it comes, view it as God's Will, and praise Him for all-this is verily the lesson of sweet peace.

The meditation passes on to the moments when such cheerful resignation is specially blessed and needed; in the home bereavements, which thus alone can be borne by such as Heaven is teaching how to mourn;' and again by those who feel that their work for their generation is set for them in the time of decay of their Church and nation. Never was there a more perfect, though unconscious, self-delineation than that of the framer of the three last verses, fully persuaded as he was that welike the later prophets-live in a time of relaxation of discipline, loss of general holiness, and dimming of glory—and yet

• His spirit calmed the storm to meet ;

Feeling the Rock beneath his feet,
And tracing through the cloud the eternal cause.'

And as `his thoughts to Heaven the steadier' rose, his contentment in his darkling round' was enlivened, as we see by his delight in allegorizing children's play; or perhaps more correctly, deducing a moral from it-tracing the bias, as it were, of the christened spirit.

The first verses are (except the line 'grave lip and laughing eye') less happy and flowing than usual, in describing the delight of children when allowed to disguise themselves in fancy garments gay;' but when once the verses have taken their swing, the description is as charming as veritable.

In semblance proud or warrior's mail

The stripling shall appear,

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