« PreviousContinue »
that clock, it's gained an hour and a half in the last week, and now has stopped entirely. Shouldn't wonder if we lose our train through itcrazy old thing! Surely this was enough to dishearten any clock; but when the mild easy-going Vicar, who always took things by the smooth handle, paused by the vestry door and remarked in very distinct tones to the curate, 'Really, Mr. Sampson, we must think seriously of the little matter you were mentioning the other night; I mean getting up a subscription for a new clock; this is almost worn out, I fancy.'
It was the finishing stroke! the church Clock nearly groaned. Was this all the reward he was to expect for serving the parish faithfully for the last two hundred years? Was he to be turned out to make way for some new-fashioned interloper? His very pendulum rattled with indignation ! Then he thought of the many scenes he had witnessed since he had first been placed there—of the children who had grown up beneath his eyeof the simple congregation he had watched Sunday after Sunday wending their way through the lime avenue to the church porch-of the sweet spring mornings and the pleasant summer days—of the rich and golden autumn and of sharp bright winter hours, such as this—so he must leave them all, he that had grown old in the path of duty! He was now voted 'crazy' and 'used up,' and must make way for a new comer!
It is not a pleasant feeling to find our day is past, so perbaps the
offending Ivy, who had ventured on a meek suggestion after much deliberation. He was not himself that morning, as his irritable temper was proof of.
It's the way of the world at least,' said he, half aloud; "but I didn't expect such treatment from the Vicar.'
“You seem troubled this morning, Mr. Clock,' whispered the Ivy. Snubbed though she had been before, she could not resist the temptation of learning why the hitherto jovial clock should this bright morning be snappish and ill-humoured.
'I have sufficient to trouble me,' answered the Clock. “Look you here, Mrs. Ivy, I've served this village for two hundred years, but my work is done now, (or it's said to be,) you'll have a new neighbour, and I trust he, in his turn, will not be served as l_
Something very like a tear trickled slowly down his broad face, perhaps it might only have been an icicle that had melted from the heat of the sun.
‘Dear me, dear me!' said the Ivy, gaining courage, 'I am very sorry to hear it; but you see, Mr. Clock, we shall all be obliged to give up some day: I am getting in years; and even the yew trees in the church-yard, they are not as young as they were.'
That's certainly true, little Ivy, but I can't see that it makes ingratitude any easier to bear; it is this that I complain of, my services have not been appreciated.'
The Ivy was silenced; she was not much given to meditation, though
she had expressed such a trite little saying concerning 'giving up. There was perhaps more truth in it than she was aware of.
The hours sped on, still the Clock’s fingers did not move. He remained outwardly sullen enough. Inwardly miserable and sad. Morning prayers were over; out came the little congregation, old and young passing through ‘God's acre,' paused and looked up at the clock.
• Wrong again,' someone said; “surely it would be better to put it on one side; eren clocks can't last for ever !!
'I don't like to say that,' answered old Barton the sexton ; 'it seems as if we were turning out an old friend; I've looked at that clock for well-nigh thirty years, and often when the new fangled one at the town hall was out of order, I've said to myself, Job Barton, you stick to the church-that's the only place to be trusted, and it stands to reason that the church clock must be trusted too. So he passed through the wicket gate, and was soon seen walking down the village street. 'Did
you hear him ?' whispered the Clock to the Ivy; 'well, it is a comfort if only one person appreciates me. Oh! I've many years of work before me; talk of “giving up” to who you like, or to those who will listen to you, little Ivy, but not to me. I'll try and astonish them
I wonder how much time I have lost-don't interrupt me, I say; can't you see I'm calculating ? But calculate as he would, he could not move! Still the fingers remained pointing hopelessly at three minutes to five! Must he really give up after a life of usefulness ? oh! it was disheartening indeed! 'Oh! Ivy, Ivy, Ivy,' he groaned, is there no comfort to be had? Will no one understand the efforts I have made ?
The Ivy shook her leaves mournfully. It was rather hard to find comfort for herself on such a bitter day.
That afternoon the clock-maker paid another visit to the tower; again the poor clock underwent a thorough investigation, for the next day was Christmas, and of all days in the year it would not do to mislead people; the church had been cleaned, the decorations were finished, the path to the porch had been swept; inside and out, everything was neat and trim in its holiday dress prepared for that joyous festival-everything right' except that unhappy clock.
The short winter day drew to a close, the sky had clouded over, and the melancholy wind rustled and tossed the dead leaves. Gradually all sounds of human life died away, only occasionally the footsteps of some traveller were heard echoing down the street. It was too cold for the groups of men and boys, who on most nights might be seen standing at the corners of the church-yard; all who had homes to go to went, and the shadows crept thicker and closer round the tower. The cold night wind played among the Ivy till she trembled in
Oh! what a bitter night!' she said softly.
Bitter,' echoed the Clock, 'only, like the rest of the world, it first flatters you with that deceiving sun, then sends biting winds and cutting frosts. Perhaps if I had known its true character at first I should not have sung its praises.'
Nay, nay, say not so, good Clock,' suddenly broke in a strange voice, and at that moment a Aake of snow floated down and rested quietly on the side of the tower. Now the snow fell thick and fast; so soft, so gentle was it, so pure it looked, that the old Clock felt strangely calmed.
Tell me your troubles,' said the Snow softly; 'I come from far away, high among the clouds; surely to-night I bring “a good message' to earth.
"Ah! yes, to earth,' murmured the Clock, “but not to me;' yet nevertheless he poured out the story of his wrongs, and the lovely snow listened quietly, and as he ended she laid her soft white hands upon his face.
"Hearken! oh village Clock” she said ; 'you grieve because your day is passing, you that were once so proud and strong; look around you, everything one day must give up;' think of the little children you watched when you were first placed here, some quickly came to sleep beneath the shadow of the church, others have grown grey under your eyes, their appointed task will soon be finished too; and if they, the work of God's hand, fade so surely, shall not you, the work of man's, come to the end of your allotted life! All have their work to do; and your part, my friend, has hitherto been bravely done. Think, only think, how day by day you have told the human creatures of the precious hours that were flying, of those “golden opportunities” not to be neglected. Oh! rest now and be thankful.
“Yes, she comes from above; she must be right,' the Clock kept murmuring, and somehow it comforted him to repeat this.
Another hour passed, the ground was covered several inches with snow, and the yew trees looked weird but lovely in their pure robe. All was very still, for the carol singers had not yet commenced, and footsteps fell silently on the snow. Suddenly there was a wild commotion in the belfry, and then sharp and clear upon the midnight air rang the Christmas bells. The Ivy trembled, and it was to the Clock as if his heart stood still.
'Listen, listén,' said the Snow, lightly touching him. This is a message for you.
And the Clock did listen, and as the silvery tones rose and fell he could distinguish a voice (that alas! the full import he could not understand) telling mortals of the glorious news! Telling them that very soon all sin and sorrow would be done away for ever, that though hundreds of Gears liad flown since the shepherds of Bethlehem had listened to the first carol, which had told them of a Saviour full of love and pity coming to dwell among them; that the message they were telling now, was VOL. 7.
just as glorious as it had been eighteen hundred years before, if they would only hearken !_and then the bells ceased.
A sob broke from the village Clock as the sound died away. “That glorious message was for mortals, not for me,' he sighed.
“You have done your appointed work well,' whispered the Snow, as she passed quickly away.
Thanks, thanks, gentle comforter,' he cried, 'my work is done; oh! that I may be ready for rest;' and the Ivy, though she scarce knew why, murmured-Thanks.'
Quel que difference qui paraisse entre les fortunes, il-y-a une certaine compensation de biens et de maux qui les rend égales.'
B. F. M.
ST. LUKE'S MISSION, BURDETT ROAD, STEPNEY.
November 10th, 1868. Dear Mr. Editor,
I have been reading over the accounts of our Mission in the March and December numbers, 1867, of The Monthly Packet, and the notice given in this month's 'Packet' of our August Flower Show. These former notices have attracted so much sympathy, and so sensibly advanced our Mission, that it seems well to you to give at this Christmas time some further details of the progress of our work.
Surely I shall not be misunderstood if I say that no one is less satisfied with using the word 'progress' than myself; and if I mention that in this difficult work, which has its ebbs and flows, it was one homage I gave to its necessity and worth, that I abstained entirely from a holiday this year, because I had set my heart on sealing another year's work by the contract for building the church. This, thanks be to God, was done on October 30th, and is perhaps the main point of progress I have to report.
I shall give briefly the course of this advance, and then recur to the general work of the Mission, and especially of the past month of October, our third anniversary.
Our building plans for St. Luke's Church are of Norman style, and to make it cheap and of capacity, everything, the omission of which would not render it mean, has been left out of the estimate. The entire amount is £5,320, but if we build the body-the nave and aisles of the church first, £80 must be added for the temporary partition wall closing up the chancel arches. The Bishop's Fund was anxious that the larger part of the church should go on, and first increased their grant to £1,500, and then gave permission that this sum might be used for the nave and aisles. The Bishop consented to consecrate this part, if it be necessary to open the church in its imperfect state ; and the Diocesan Church Building and Incorporated Societies, and Marshall's Charity, made grants to the amount of £600.
Our Quarterly Collections, in books and boxes, had gone on. Every friend who subscribed had doubled their subscription; The Monthly Packet contributions continued; donations were paid directly to the Bishop's Fund; our economy had saved £120 of Offertories ; St. Michael's, Chester Square, sermons were repeatedyet, after all, the amount paid and promised, independently of grants, could only
be reported in October at £1,210, and the sum total, this amount with the grants, is £3,310.
The builders' tender was in three parts: for building nave and aisles, £3050; for building chancel, £1,650; for fittings, £700 (in body, £350 ; in chancel, £350.) A separate estimate, as part of the £1,650, was made for the foundations alone of the chancel; this amounts to £235. Accordingly, the meeting on October 30 considered the work they had immediately before them stood thus: body, £3,050; fittings, £350; extras, £100; chancel foundation, £235; in all, £3,735 ; leaving thus £425 needed for the completion of the first part of the work. They took a partial contract for laying the whole foundations, and making the body wind and water-tight, at £2,735, and the building is forthwith to go on.
I trust these details will not be tedious. They show our position, and they imply a large part of the task which may come of necessity on the missionary of each new district started by the Bishop of London's Fund.
To turn now to some other points, which I must take up in order of time. One of the first fruits of our Festival Month, as we call October, was the offer of seven ladies, in November, 1867, to aid. As we have no building of any kind, we were indebted to the Rev. A. B. Cotton for the use of his vestry; and here, on the Tuesday afternoon of each week, we have what I trust will be the germ of much useful Christian work. Six mothers joined the meeting at first, and a Provident Club was commenced. Now the members are forty-seven, and yet the club only takes in about six shillings weekly, surely proving that this part of the mission work is among the very poor. The ladies sit with the women, and all together make up clothes for the members and others. A very busy working party it is, and though a book is read, it does not hinder the sewing. Girls also of the age of fourteen to eighteen are admitted, and taught to read, and prepared for Baptism and Confirmation. Ten of these were present last week. To-day it was arranged to ask some young women of the district to aid in work for a Christmas tree. These ladies having now found that there is work, and that they can do it, will undertake to visit the district, and so during the winter the poor will have kind words and help.
During last winter a Public Relief Fund was established for the hamlet of Mile End Old Town, and the advantage of such missions as the Bishop of London's appeared, as no more willing and useful almoners could have been found than the Rev. P. J. Richardson, my assistant, and the Scripture Reader who is attached to our division of Trinity parish. We lose Mr. Richardson's services at Christmas. I cannot but rejoice that other helpers have come to supply in some things this great loss. I would that some other with his spirit might offer himself for St. Luke's.
Among our prayers at the Mother's Meeting is one That God would incline others to similar works of mercy ;' and we take it as a sign, that frequently I have communications to read from persons offering work like their own, chiefly from readers of The Monthly Packet.
As to the services: I hare (Irawn out the conspectus of services, congregations, and offertorics for four perio's during the past year, similar to the one given in the number of the · Packet' for March, 1867 ; but I must confine myself to the results, and some remarks. The number of persons at the services varies; the liberality of those interested increases. The number of services increases, and some new visitor is seen at nearly all. Our district is of the poor; their habits and our present çircumstances confine us to them. The week-day service on Friday is now constant, and every other opportunity in Advent, Lent, and October has been used. In October, 1867, there were twelve services, from Quarterly Collection on the evening of September 30, to All Saints, November 1. 1858 persons attended, and the offertory was £15 4s. 8d., in six hundred and sixty-four coins. This year the services were ninetcen, the congregations 1594, and offeripgs £25 2s. 31d., in eight hundred