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o'clock. We took care to be there in time. As the hour drew near we could not but notice what crowds were gathering on the pier, and what loads of luggage were accumulating. How was this vessel, though a large one, to take all these? Why there must be more than a thousand. And so there were; but some were only spectators.
Ere long the vessel was ready for us; and then came the struggle to get on board; such a struggle as I had never seen before and never wish to see again-men, women, and children, crowding down the inclined landing place and then up the gangway into the vessel-great burly porters loaded with luggage driving their way through the passengers, and throwing down their load on the deck, forcing their way back through the crowd to earn another sixpence by fetching another load-whilst we had enough to do to take care of ourselves that we were not trampled down or pitched overboard.
At length all were on board; but for some time it was a scene of great confusion. There was scarcely space to move, fore or aft. In the centre of the vessel was what we might call a mountain of luggage of all kinds, tumbled one upon another, just as the porters had thrown their loads off their shoulders.
The signal given, the steam valve was opened, and soon set the engine in motion. On we moved down the river. It was a splendid morning, and as our band struck up a cheerful tune the scene was exhilirating.
The crew of the vessel, under the orders of the mate, now set to work, and soon righted the decks, so that the pas
sengers found a little more space to move about in, and find their companions, from whom they had been separated in the scuffle to get on board. It was amusing to see the various positions in which the passengers placed themselves all over the vessel, especially in the fore-part. A few were below, but only a few, for the morning was so fine that all seemed to prefer being on deck. Some were seated on luggage, others on the bulwarks and bowsprit, and many crowded themselves on the top of the paddle boxes; and no wonder, for there were, we were told, as many as 850 passengers.
In about an hour we were clear of the channel, with its sometimes dangerous sandbanks, and in the Irish sea, often so rough and tempestuous, but now, as one of our party remarked, as smooth as a mill-pond." And indeed it was as "smooth as glass." Not a ripple disturbed its surface. We never yet saw, for so many hours, so smooth a sea. We had often heard of rough passages to the Isle of Man, and we had made up our minds to the risk of having one; but all the way over, the waters were as quiet as we have described them.
On we went, with the head of our vessel turned westward, ploughing our way steadily over the peaceful deep. We hoisted no sails, for there was no wind to fill them, and for this reason perhaps we saw few sailing vessels on our way. But leaning over the bulwarks, we could discover in the clear waters shoals of small fish swimming near the surface, and sometimes leaping above it, as if, in frolicsome sport, they were enjoying the holiday of a smooth sea and warm sunshine. Then again curious creatures would come rising up to the surface, and floating like cakes of jelly or lumps of blubber,
extend their curious arms like branches, and then disappear again, before one could well tell what they were. world of undiscovered wonders does the great wide sea contain! How yet more wonderful the wisdom, power, and goodness, of HIM who created them!
So we passed along, sometimes cheered by the music of the band, and sometimes by male and female voices singing some national or popular air, or some favourite piece of sacred harmony; whilst the sun shining in his strength from above down upon the smooth sea beneath, made it appear like a mirror of the clear heavens along which he travelled in cloudless splendour. The scene was as rare to us as it was surpassingly beautiful!
At length, after the space of about five hours from our departure, we began to descry the mountains of the Island, like dim hazy clouds rising in the distant horizon. Every ten minutes now brought forth their outlines more and more distinctly, until we could at length discover the white houses on their slopes, and then the trees in which they were embosomed.
All was now bustle on board among the passengers to look out their luggage from the great heap, and have it in readiness. This done, all stood and watched how rapidly we seemed to approach the shore. Whilst out at sea with no object on which to fix the eye, and so measure our movement, we seemed scarcely to advance, but now every revolution of the paddle-wheels seemed to send us onward with increasing velocity.
ON THE DEATH OF CHILDREN.
IT is true the death of infants and children often involves many circumstances of a very afflictive character. The smitten child, like the son of the poor widow of Zarephath, may be an only one; or, if not an only one, may be esteemed the flower of fairest promise, and have entwined its tendrils around the warmest affections of the heart. The object on which was centred many fondly-cherished hopes has been suddenly cut down, and a chasm produced in the domestic circle, and in the sympathies of the bosom, which no sublunary object can ever fill. A shadow is left by the hearthstone which can never more depart. The parent takes his dear one from his bosom, and lays it down in the shroud, while his heart is pierced with the most poignant sorrow. Alas! how insecure are our choicest pleasures and our most valued blessings! Like the dew upon a flower, like the beauty of a full-blown rose, how soon they vanish, and we see them no more. Who but a bereaved parent can know the grief of those who are called to lay their children in the grave. "I've sat and watched by dying beauty's head, And burning tears of hopeless anguish shed; I've gazed upon the sweet, but pallid face, And vainly tried some comfort there to trace; I've listened to the short and struggling breath; I've seen the cherub eye grow dim in death."
But whilst the death of children involves many circumstances of a painful and distressing character, it is by Christianity rendered glorious, and even attractive. There is something lovely in the departure of an infant to be with Christ and his angels. We are fain to imagine that—
"Some angel brighter than the rest"
is sent to conduct the spirit to its mansion near the throne. We look upon the lifeless clay beautiful in death. We can say, Better die young than incur a dishonoured name at a riper age, and spend an old age of shame. Better that the opening flower, all moist with the dew of the morning, should be plucked by a gentle hand, to gladden, with its perfume and beauty, the choicest apartment of the house, than that the tempest, at night, should rudely shatter its stalk, and scatter its petals over the miry ground. We gaze upon features pale and cold, but which have never been disturbed by envy, malice, or revenge. True, we behold the remains of an offspring of degenerate parents, who was heir to a depraved nature, and could be saved only by the atoning merits of a crucified Saviour, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit; and who, if life had lasted, would have been exposed to temptation and sin. But how consolatory the reflection that the new-born soul, which so lately animated the now lifeless frame, adorns, like a starry gem, the crown of Immanuel, and vies with the angelic host in exalted songs to the Lamb that was slain.
"Tell us," says Dr. Chalmers, "if Christianity does not throw a pleasing radiance around an infant's tomb? and should any parent feel softened by the touching remembrance of a light that twinkled a few short months under his roof, and at the end of its little period expired, we cannot think that we venture too far when we say, that he has only to persevere in the faith and in the following of the Gospel, and that very light will again shine upon him in heaven.