Some Intimations of Early Childhood
THAT is indeed an entrancing picture presented by Victor Hugo in his La Prière pour Tous, wherein the poet’s fancy girdles this sin-weary world with infant worshipers : —
Tandis que nous courons à nos plaisirs étranges,
Tons les petits enfants, les yeux levés au ciel,
Mains jolntes et pieds nus, à genoux sur la pierre,
Disant à la même heure une même prière,
Demandent pour nous grâce au Père universel! ”
Can you not see them ? — this endless circle of little white souls in their white gowns, the world shut out (and heaven shut in) by closely pressed palms, over pure eyes ; their feet, soft and pink, without a line of worldly wear, upturned and still for this moment only of their waking life ? And can you not hear the melodious murmur of their voices as they pour out in unison petitions and praises, which the waiting angel receives and bears away
Ce grand besom d’amour, la seule soif de Dieu "?
Holy childhood in its holiest mood ! What can be thought of one who can break in upon the sacred hush of the poet’s vision with the confession that scarcely anything in human experience makes so possible the doctrine of inherent depravity as the prayers of little children ? Do not misunderstand me, — not exceeding depravity, but innate ; for so early does the human heart send forth clouded streams that one,can hardly avoid the conviction that they are troubled at the very source. It is simply suggested that in “ natural piety,” as elsewhere, “ the child is father of the man,” and that nursery devotions are closely akin to the prayers of humanity.
The doctrine is hard, almost intolerable, yet Matthew Arnold, not the most pronounced of Calvinists, writes thus in a recent essay : " Even the ‘ intimations ’ of the famous Ode, those corner-stones of the supposed philosophic system of Wordsworth, — the idea of high instincts and affections coining out in childhood testifying of a divine home recently left, and fading away as our life proceeds, — this idea, of undeniable beauty as a play of fancy, has itself not the character of poetic truth of the best kind; it has no real solidity. The instinct of delight in nature and her beauty had no doubt extraordinary strength in Wordsworth himself as a child. But to say that universally this instinct is mighty in childhood, and tends to die away afterward, is to say what is extremely doubtful. In many people, perhaps with the majority of educated persons, the love of nature is nearly imperceptible at ten years old, but strong and operative at thirty. In general, we may say of these high instincts of early childhood, the base of the alleged systematic philosophy of Wordsworth, what Thucydides says of the early achievements of the Greek race : 'It is impossible to speak with certainty of what is so remote ; but from all that we can really investigate, I should say that they were no very great things !' ” Thus fortified, I venture to resume the unpleasant theme, and reluctantly suggest that even in the earliest recommunieations of the child of immortality with “heaven, which is his home,” there are often intimations of mortal vapors flecking the glory-clouds with which he came attended.
It was my fortune to hear a baby of twenty-two months offer her first prayer. For some time previously, her mother had repeated for her the immortal litany of the nursery, but on this occasion she said, “You can pray yourself tonight.” Whereupon followed the familiar words with an addendum uttered with peculiar unction and startling effect: —
I pay the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake;
I pay the Lord my soul to take,
I faid o' the hoys. Amen.”
This is of course not cited as an instance of depravity, but of the spontaneity of certain sentiments, there having been absolutely nothing in this infant’s surroundings to have generated her terror of the “ growing boy.”
Indeed, does not the old Adam, or perhaps one should say the young Cain, of revolt show itself most significantly in the propensity of childhood to revise this earliest and simplest of orisons ? A well-known missionary, as he was preparing for bed after his first and very youthful dissipation at a menagerie, remarked, with a blasé yawn, “ I liked the camels a good deal the best, and I ’m going to say, Now I ‘ camel ’ down to sleep, to-night.” It need scarcely be added, by way of explanation, that his Yankee nurse had prejudices in favor of flat a from which the llama and her little charge alike suffered.
Another little rebel, of our own clan, “ improved ” the formula thus : —
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If you should die before you wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
“ No, no, Katie. You know that is quite wrong: if you, Katie, should die,” etc. But she persisted in the new version against all explanations and remonstrances, until at last her discomfited elders were thankful to accept a compromise which she suddenly sprung upon them, wherein she made vicarious sacrifice of a favorite relative, who chanced to be their visitor, on this wise : —
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If Uncle C—should die before he wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
Max Müller, in his Origin and Growth of Religion, remarks : “ When children once begin to ask questions, they ask the why and the wherefore of everything, religion not excepted; nay, I believe that the first problems of what we call philosophy were suggested by religion.” Is it not further true that religion (that is, its “ outward and visible signs ”) exercises an exceptionally powerful fascination upon childhood ? And I fancy that prayer in particular weaves such a spell about a child’s imagination as can be broken only by gross practicalness on the part of its adult guardians. Scores of instances might be cited where children, not accustomed to the observance of “family prayer” and “grace” at table, have, on visiting where such customs obtained, been utterly captivated by these religious rites, and have returned home to discomfit their parents with sharp inquisition as to “ Why don’t we and God talk together mornings, as they do at Mr.—’s ? ” or, “ Why don’t yon talk to your plate, papa, dinnertimes, as grandpa does at his house ? ” etc.
Some one has written, “ Romance is the truth of imagination and boyhood. Homer’s horses clear the earth with a bound. The child’s eye needs no horizon to its prospect. An Oriental tale is not too vast. Pearls dropping from trees are only falling leaves in autumn. The palace that grew up in a night merely awakens a wish to live in it. The impossibilities of fifty years are the commonplaces of five.” No one can deny this, nor draw the line between this inborn romanticism and much of the pietism which so charms us when uttered by baby lips. However much the objects of admiration may differ, the sentiment of the infant admirer is the same in a large majority of “ all we can really investigate.” That there are exceptions no one who has known children well for many years can doubt. But these divine estrays are wont to vanish again from our adoring sight so swiftly that we “ only know [they] came and went,” and it is not of them that we speak.
The representative child accepts with equal avidity a Bible miracle and an Arabian conjuration, but religion at once rises above romance incomparably in constraining attraction, if only from the fact that it alone offers him, through prayer, facilities of personal communication and intimate relations with the invisible powers whose wonder-working has appealed to his imagination. Therefore, to delight in prayer is not necessarily a proof of native sanctity.
A father related to me the following incident. His little daughter, of whose vagaries I had previously heard as something wonderful, had committed some offense which made the interposition of the father’s authority necessary. “ I tried every conceivable argument with her, but reasoning and pleading were alike vain. Indeed, nothing seemed to touch her in the slightest degree, till, fairly appalled by her insensibility, I burst into tears myself, and cried, ‘ I can only pray for you, my poor child ! ’ I did pray, then and there, and the result seemed miraculous. The child was melted in contrition and lovingness, apparently, so that I felt that I had at last found the secret spring of her strange little spirit. All went well for some days, but one night, as I opened the door on my return from the office, G. pounced out upon me with a most rapturous expression of countenance, and exclaimed, ‘Oh, papa! I’ve been the very worstest little girl that ever I was before ! I just plagued everybody, and at last I snatched the best silver cream-jug off the tea-table, and frowed it down into the cellar ; and it’s lying there yet, coz mamma said it mustn’t be picked up till you got home. Now, papa, had n’t we better go into your room and pray another nice little prayer ? ’ ”
And I have several times witnessed domestic farces, or tragedies, as you please, over the scrupulous exaction by the children of a household of the custom of invoking a “ blessing ” at table, which “ to my mind ” would have been “ more honored in the breach than the observance.” Two sturdy boys, for example, in a family of my acquaintance, invariably settled the question which of them should say grace in their father’s frequent absences from home by a solemn round of fisticuffs, which often sent the officiating priest to the table a personification at once of the church militant and the church triumphant.
Prayer is a critical privilege. Said Sandy Mackaye (in Alton Locke), “ There’s na hope for us on earth, we be a’ sic liars, — a’ liars, I think. A’ universal liars, — rock substrawtum.’ as Mr. Carlyle says. I’m a great liar often mysel’, — especially when I’m praying.” Children, like their elders, and even before they can have learned this of their elders, are prone to pray what is expected of them, or what they fancy they ought, rather than to utter the soul’s sincere desire, which the pious poet defines prayer to be. Was it Edward Everett who was once reported to have “ offered the most eloquent prayer ever addressed to a Boston audience ” ? However this may have been, we fear that few indeed have been the petitioners before and since to whom their immediate “ Boston ” has not too often been their much-engrossing “ audience ; ” and this peril of the pulpit and the prayer-meeting does not fail to invade the nursery.
Alas, like “ the gray-beard loon ” of the immortal Rime, I must here and now seek easement of soul by confession. Once, in very early childhood, having been sent up-stairs to meditate upon some transgression, preparatory to receiving “ punishment ” (mode and degree not stated) therefor, this most unfamiliar and awfully mysterious threat so overpowered all diviner fears within me that I deliberately, — may Heaven forgive what I never can forgive myself ! — knelt down near, oh very near, the “ pipe-hole ” which communicated directly with the old parsonage study, and projected through it a prayer “ eloquent ” enough to move the gentle hearts below to such a degree that, woe is me! I exchanged a moment of love’s healing chastisement for life-long remorse. For
That agony returns :
And till my ghostly tale is told
This heart within me burns.”
There is, perhaps, nothing more hateful than such an exhibition of guile in what we delight to call “ guileless childhood,” and yet it is far from being uncommon.
A little visitor at the same parsonage, a few years ago, a child only four years old and of rare sweetness and in every way delightful, suddenly displayed a deliberate intent to beguile, deeper than the Gunpowder Plot and far more appalling. Her victim and utterly enslaved admirer happened to be dressing for church in the same room with small Annie and her aunt, and as each several article was donned the child’s approbation was expressed with more and more eagerness of intensity, till it finally culminated in a species of ecstasy as the young lady (immensely flattered by this pure incense of admiration from “a simple child that lightly draws its breath,” without knowledge of “ death ” or evil of any sort) completed her toilet by putting on her hat: “ Is n't that such a pretty dress ! Is n’t her sack lovely ! ” and finally, “ Oh, Aunt Mayiah ! Is n’t Miss Katie’s bonnet puffetly booful ! ” Then, as the aunt was about to take from the trunk the child’s own street costume, she said, with marked emphasis, “ Now Miss Katie can see my fings.”
Her unsuspicious friend signified her reciprocal admiration now and then, as the toilet proceeded, and at last, as the dainty hat was tied under the alluring little chin, she remarked, “ That’s a jaunty little hat, Annie, — just right for your dear little head; ” when, to her unutterable amazement and horror, the precious pet exclaimed indignantly, “ I don’t tare, Miss Katie, I said a dood deal more about your old bunnit! ”
An old-fashioned proser in verse once wrote: —
That hideous sight, — a naked human heart.”
And a still older-fashioned poet in prose cried before him: " Behold, I 'was shapen in iniquity ; and in sin did my mother conceive, me.”
But to return to our more immediate subject. Sometimes the “audience,” like the proverbial listener, “ hears no good of himself,” as in the case of a prayer offered under precisely similar circumstances to that of the “ pipe-hole " meditation above recorded, by a native of the same parish. In this case, little Grace Goodenow (the aptness of the name is irresistible) besought with great unction, “ O Lord, soften my mother’s har-rd heart, so she won’t be so ugly and whip me.”
It is doubtful whether any of this earthly leaven entered into the composition of still another “ grace before meat ” — penal meat — offered at the age of four by a little kinsman, now a sound divine, with sundry babies of his own, as curly-headed as was their papa, but I suspect less deeply-dyed, even from the cradle, in the old Westminster catechism. In this instance the judicial parent overheard the penitent atom, measuring perhaps a score of inches from toe to topknot, wrestling mightily in the supplication, “ Grant, O Lord, that I may be renewed in the whole man ! ” And in this case there is reason to believe that his prayer prevailed, since even in boyhood he did brave service for his country, as he still does for the church, instead of coming to the gallows long ago, as might have been justly predicated from a still earlier pietism of his, when he visited his sweet old grandmother with the lisping entreaty, “Pleath give me a yump of thugar, grandma; if you will, I ’ll be a dood boy, and therve God all the dayth of my life.”
Children’s wanderings in prayer have often the redeeming merit of ingenuousness and honest confession, which, however awful in its self - betrayals, might wholesomely revivify every socalled “ worshiping assembly ” and solitary suppliant, were once its divine breath to blow into audible speech the heart treasons now so decorously silent. Astounding and overwhelming as such “ reading between the lines ” would be, from cathedral altar down to cottage bedside, yet He who desireth truth in the inward parts might perhaps think our case less desperate than before our shame - stricken souls had thus bared themselves.
A delightful aunt who was visiting a Chicago household, years ago, with an apparently unlimited stock of bonbons, was called upon so often for supplies by her youngest nephew that his mother at last forbade him to ask again. The night alter this prohibition, the little fellow guilelessly betrayed a most guileful plan of procedure, interpolating it into his recital of the Lord’s prayer : “ Our Father who art in heaven ; hallowed be thy name ; thy kingdom come ; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven ; give us this day our daily bread, — and I ’ll ask auntie for some candy for grandpa, and he ’ll say, ‘ No, I thank you,’ and then I’ll eat it myself,” — and forgive us our debts,” etc.
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at this transparent little fellow-sinner.
Another true tale of similar import, which has been used elsewhere, is here transcribed, because it introduces still another easily besetting sin of the universal suppliant. The scene shifts to Massachusetts. Tommy was already in bed and supposed to be fast asleep. Johnny, in virtue of two additional years, came later, accompanied by his father, who was to hear his prayers. John, having other projects in view, wandered repeatedly, and had to be sharply recalled, on this wise : “ God bless my father and mother ; God bless Tommy, and make him a good boy — Oh, father, you won’t forget to buy that saw to-morrow, will you ? ” “ Hush, Johnny, and finish your prayers properly.” “ Bless brother Tommy, and make him a good boy — and father, you know I ’ve got to have a brad-awl to make holes with ! ” “ My son, this
is very, very wrong. Remember that you are praying.” “ Bless my brother Tom, and make him a good boy — and then there’s impression-paper and sandpaper”— “John, I shall punish you if I hear anything more from you tonight except your prayers.” The thoroughly alarmed Johnny now resumes in good earnest: “ Bless Tommy, and make him a ” — when up springs the supposed sleeper in mighty wrath, shouting. “John Riggs, you just stop that! You’ve prayed for me four times too much already. I ’ll thank you to let me alone ; if I want praying for, I ’ll do it myself! ”
And another Bay State infant, a lovely little motherless girl, upon whose baby shoulders domestic cares already pressed sorely, prayed, “ O Lord, please pour out thy spirit on all this family, ’specially my brother Wheelock, coz lie needs it most; he teases me so.”
This generosity of solicitude in behalf of others’ spiritual improvement is sown broadcast through Christendom, but blossomed into rank Pharisaism in the little Binghamton sister’s prayer, wrung from her, like the previous entreaty, by the “ prison-house ” beshadowed “ boy,” the arch-adversary of her kind. Unable to endure (or was it unable to retaliate in kind?) any longer his aggravations, she suddenly “ flopped ” against him, in the very spirit and almost the letter of the old temple parable : “ O Lord, bless my brother Tom ; he lies, he steals, he swears. All boys do. Us girls don’t. Amen.”
Limited and selfish prayers naturally abound in the nursery. In this kingdom of heaven, generalities and euphuisms and self-abnegations of appeal must not he looked for. It was not till after many years of divine teaching and self-discipline that Dorothea Casaubon learned by heart that supremest petition, Thy will be done.
“ ‘ But I have a belief, and it comforts me.'
“ ‘ What is that ? ’ said Will [Ladislaw], rather jealous of the belief.
“ ‘ That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don’t quite know what it is, and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil,—widening the skirts of light, and making the struggle with darkness narrower.’
“ 'That is a beautiful mysticism, — it is a’ —
“‘ Please not to call it by any name,’ said Dorothea, putting out her hands entreatingly. ‘ You will say it is Persian or something else geographical. It is my life. I have found it out, and cannot part with it. I have always been finding out my religion since I was a little girl. I used to pray so much; now I hardly ever pray. I try not to have desires merely for myself because they may not be good for others, and I have too much already.'”
But children have no scruples like Dorothea’s. Born to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and with that happiness unmistakably defined to their keen,fresh senses, and right in a straight line from themselves on one side, while the Deity (who is to them simply an inexhaustible giver, existing for that purpose alone) is so conveniently near and accessible on the other side, what wonder that they ask in faith, nothing doubting, for precisely what they want!
Perhaps the demand for “ a real meat baby ” is the most common and fervent aspiration of the nursery.
The daughter of a clergyman in an adjoining parish once gave the Lord “ just two weeks ” in which to bring her “ a baby sister,” supplementing her peremptory order with the threat, “ And if she does n’t come by that time I ’ll just go right over and steal Mrs. Smith’s new baby, clothes and all! ”
My little friends, Jamie and Madge, were equally explicit; but although they were praying in concert, they could hardly claim the extraordinary potency promised to the “ two ” who “ shall agree touching any matter.” Jamie, by privilege of age and sex, prayed first: " Dear Lord, please send me a little brother, and Maggie a little sister ” — whereupon Maggie hopped up very indignantly from her knees, and said, “ Jimmy W—, I wish you’d mind your own business ! I guess I can love a little brother, too.”
“ Well, don’t get mad, Madge; I just as lief pray for a little brother for you. Dear Lord, please send Mag a little brother, too, though I should think she’d much prefer a little sister; for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.”
And when the “ little brother ” so earnestly begged for in this family duet “ came and went,” Jamie remonstrated against the speedy retraction of the heavenly gift on this wise : “ Dear Lord, have n’t you most got through using little Harry for an angel ? We want him down here very much.”
On another occasion, when the officials came to record names for the final draft of soldiers, Jamie confronted them with the cry, “ Oh, how can you bear to take little boys’ papas to the war!” and then fled to his favorite refuge, and prayed, “ Dear Lord ! Won’t you please to fix it so that my papa won’t have to go to the war ? ”
Still, often and effectively as little Jamie wielded this heavenly artillery, he was quite scrupulous about taxing its interposition unnecessarily, so that once, when he came into blissful possession of his first pair of india-rubber boots, he calmly went to bed (though the weather had been exceedingly dry and the night was fine) without any special stipulation in his devotions. In the morning he sprang out of his crib and drew back the curtain, revealing a driving northeaster, and was overheard chuckling to himself, “ There ! The dear Lord has sent lots of beautiful mud-puddles without my asking him to ! ”
An opposite course was pursued by a small fellow-citizen, whose home was over against the Yale Scientific School. Finding the weather unsatisfactorily warm after Christmas had brought him certain long-desired presents, he besought with great confidence, but equally great caution and provision for all possible contingencies and misconceptions, “ O Lord, be so kind as to make ice to-night on Mr. Sheffield’s side, so I can skate ; but please don’t make ice in our gutter, so I can sail my boat.”
Still another little neighbor, whose parents had just sailed for Europe, was overheard, at her evening devotions, arranging matters for the beloved travelers with an even quainter nicety of adjustment, and with a perhaps premature recognition of the self-limits of omnipotence in dealing with human affairs : “ O Lord, please don’t let them be seasick, — at least not very ; for I have heard, O Lord, that it’s better for people to be rather! ” Having criminated myself so hopelessly under a previous head of this discourse, I think perhaps another incident from the same oratory may be suffered. It is of such gracious nature that it might almost commend me to mercy in Mr. Wordsworth’s eyes, although my reporter (a revered relative, who chanced to visit the parsonage at the time when my gratitude found voice), relating the anecdote to me years after, showed himself highly antipathetic with the particular object in nature which evoked my thank-offering. And it cannot be denied that it indicated strongly
To me did seem appareled in celestial light.”
For the time was spring, and the evening prayer was, “ I thank thee, dear Lord, for making the beautiful frogs to sing to me so sweetly ! ”
But although perfectly aware of the absolute assurance of the child, per se, as to his own direct connection with the bounty of the Infinite, yet it was, I confess, very startling to come not long ago upon a baby who not only realized his inalienable privileges on this score, but honestly supposed he had the sole monopoly of such privileges.
His name is Allie, and he lives in the most hospitable home of the most beautiful town in New England. It happened, one morning, that he assisted at family worship, or the discovery of the gross infringement of his rights might have been indefinitely postponed. He overlooked proceedings with calm indifference until the very conclusion of the service, when his father, according to his usual custom, recited the Lord’s Prayer, the family accompanying. The instant he heard the words which he was himself accustomed to repeat every night, he quivered throughout his little frame so noticeably that his mother, who had mounted him on the arm of the sofa by which she knelt, raised her head to look at him. To her amazement, she discovered that he had become perfectly rigid with wrath, his cheeks fired and swollen, and his eyes fairly starting out of their sockets. The instant " Amen” was reached, his frenzy found utterance in a torrent of howls and semi-articulate ejaculations, and at last in the words, “ Th— th— th— that a’n’t your prayer ! That a’n’t your prayer! That a’n’t your kindom come ! ”
So far as my observation goes, children commonly leave to their superiors all denunciatory psalms, and all attempts at the personal direction of judicial thunder-bolts “ to deal damnation round the land.” The only exceptions to this rule which I find in my repertory are two ; unless one example, which was rather a meditation than a prayer, be admitted. Judge for yourselves of its claims. Two small cousins, Storrs and Platt, quarreled bitterly in their play together. At last, Storrs, who was four or five months the elder, was severely punished by his parents, and subsided into a corner, with the blood-curdling warning, “ Well, I shall die and go to heaven.” Platt, much impressed by the whole scene, was also overheard in his corner soliloquizing: “ Storrs — gone to heaven, — un-possible ! ”
The first prayer of condemnation to be cited is the awful supplication of a certain dear little Jamaica Plain boy, who, having been sent to bed at half past five (instead of six o'clock, his ordinary hour of banishment), at the special instigation of his aunt, who was to give a party that night, entreated, “ O Lord, come and take aunt Elizabeth right down to hell.”
The second instance is too admirable an epigram on the animus of ecclesiastical autocracy and sectarianism, and indeed of all human rivalries, to be omitted.
A pair of twins, the offspring of a Methodist clergyman in Vermont, were given, like all ministers’ children the world over, I fancy, to playing at “church,” and particularly to preaching. These small sons of thunder usually divided the time and the honors very amicably ; but on one occasion Bob had “ great liberty,” and prolonged his sermon beyond all precedent. Reuben endured restively, but in silence, for some time, mindful of the sanctity of pulpit privilege. At last, however, patience was exhausted, and lie shouted out from the ignominious pews, “ I say you, Bob, dry up! It’s my turn, now.” But Robert still rolled out sonorous periods without pause, until Reuben dragged up another chair close to that which his brother had been occupying so unrighteously long, and mounting it he poured such a flood of pious oratory into the very face and eyes of the somewhat hoarse and exhausted exhorter that he, poor fellow, was forced to an abrupt change of base and tactics. Dropping homiletics and betaking himself to his knees, he folded his weary hands and shut his afflicted eyes, and prayed, “ O Lord! Don't bless that other minister that’s got his pidpit hitched on to mine ! ”
As the above expresses the unlovingness of humanity, let me narrate one more prayer, equally true and sincere, thank God! which expresses the gratitude for all blessings, the confidence in the all-loving Giver, and the perfect faith that he means us always good, which may Heaven send us all when we pray.
A Western missionary had adopted a little child who was utterly uninstructed, not only in religious forms, but in “ other-worldliness ” of every kind, and indeed in the merest commonplaces of any earthly home. The little creature basked all day in the delicious new ah mosphere of love and tender care, and was simply told, at night, that it was God who had given her these amazing blessings, and that lie would like to have her tell him that she was pleased, out of her own heart, in her own words. And this is literally her first prayer: “ I fank oo, God, for this nice house to live in ; T fank oo for a pitty white bed to sleep in ; I fank oo for new papa and mamma; I fank oo for pitty fowers to smell of and pitty birds to sing to me. I fank oo, God, for evy single fing. Won’t oo hear me, God? Yes, — of tourse oo will!”
The conclusion of the whole matter would seem to me to be that from these “ intimations,” and many others still more significant, it is probable that the good God did not send us into this his other world cursed with Barmecidal memories of “ that imperial palace whence [we] came,” and clad with his purple, which we are hopelessly doomed to lose, shred after shred, until we are left shivering in “ entire forgetfulness ’’ and “ utter nakedness,” except, forsooth, for the sorry rags of “ a philosophic mind ! ”
There daily passes along our streets a man bent and worn with a long life of study and executive toil. I Tis name is honored wherever the English tongue is spoken, or English thought modifies human opinion. The thousands who have been under his immediate governance render homage not alone to his great wisdom and rare justice, but to his singleness of heart, his marvelous control of a spirit not naturally docile, his exquisite reverence for another’s right of judgment, whomsoever that other may be, his modesty of self-estimation, and the perfect simplicity of his Christian faith. No child could transcend this sage in absolute dependence and simple confidence ; and yet what a heaven-wide difference between the sweet credulity of childhood and the tribute of trust and praise which can be rendered by such a one as he, or as Paul the aged,” who has fought the good fight and kept the faith through it all, and even by means of it all! Wordsworth, thou reasonest well of happy childhood, but better of him “ whom every man in arms should wish to be,” —
“ Who, not content that former worth stand fast,
Looks forward, persevering to the last,
From well to better, daily self-surpast.”
Mrs. Edward Ashley Walker.