Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

time when a pure soul was being crowned, and the significance given to the now made the future a continuance of rapture and glory. “Now,spoke the dying Christian ; "now" and her voice failed, or dropped into that whisper of ecstasy which seems to regard a louder speech as profane for the thought to be uttered. “ Now" was expressed distinctly; but the sentiment it heralded was only to be caught from the movement of the lips;—it was, “ Now we see through a glass darkly.” The soul that uttered it felt it was a great thing to see eternal glories, even darkly,-in riddles, as it were; dimly as, in outline, we behold objects without the frosty pane, in the streets of the city. It was a good time now to her heart, as she looked darkly, dimly, at the things of heaven; and when she said "but then face to face,” the rapture that lighted up her whole being, and seemed to float her on an atmosphere of beauty, was kindled by the right estimate of the now. She died as she had lived, a child of faith ; and the memory of her quiet household ways, her retiring graces, her excelling sweetness, her keen intuitions of the Divine, her exquisite discernment of the poetic, her worship of God in the loveliness of cheerful obedience to duty, gives to this hour of thoughtfulness a sacredness that says, Now is the accepted time to copy that excellence you admire. Now is the day of salvation, when you may be redeeming from that captivity which keeps you from the enjoyment of the freedom she knew,knew in childhood, youth, and womanhood, that gave her joy as she felt her lot amid the universe of things that spake of God and his love, and prompted her to sing,

Oh ! blame not thou the ready smile,

The smooth phrase framed to please, The studied grace of attitude,

Each movement's courtly ease. Nay, chide her not, though on her lip

May linger song and jest ; Thou canst but see the seeming there,

She hideth all the rest.
Though with the cold she oft may sneer

At love pure, earnest, deep,
Yet deathless memories in her heart

Their ceaseless whisperings keep.
She cannot be e'en as the false

Who gather round her now,
Though at the shrine of vanity

Her spirit seems to bow.
She cannot hush the earnest voice

That whispers of the past,
Nor always drive the shade away

Around her life-path cast.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

There was a time when gaily forth

Her untaught feelings sprung ;
But that was ere her faith was crushed,

Her woman-spirit wrung.
Hers was the sunny gladness free,

Of joyous, untried youth ;
The upward gushing of a heart

Unlearned in all save truth.
But soon a richer, deeper light

Around the maiden played ;
She loved, she trusted, and her hope

A glorious future made.
She had no wish from his apart,

No joy unshared by him,
And when the cloud was on his brow,

Her sunshine too was dim.
Thus in her heart, so pure and true,

A blessed heaven she made,
But soon her brightest hope was crushed,

Her woman-heart betrayed.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

She never murmured-but she met

His smile with quiet scorn,
And from her look he could not learn

How much her heart had borne.
He saw no trembling tear-drop start

When carelessly his name,
Linked with the common words of earth,

From her lips idly came ;
He heard no sigh when his rich voice,

Which once her heart could thrill,
Was breathed upon another's ear,

With the ame earnest trill Which had aroused the music deep

Within her sunny soul,

то

NAY, chide her not, that thus her voice

To feeling is not wed,
And that her step is trained to fall

With fashion's measured tread.

And called up feelings which her will

Alone could now control.
He saw no trace of tenderness

Remaini in her heart ;
And never dreamed he of the pain

It cost her soul to part
From all that had been joy and light,

And sunshine in her way,–
And how her hopes, all crushed and torn,

Beneath his rash hand lay. He knew not of the bitter grief

With which her heart was wrung, He dreamed not with what earnest trust

To him her spirit clung.

He followed far the fickle course

Of fame's most dazzling light, But bare within his secret soul

A darkly withering blight. And then he died-but o'er the tomb

Where he, the faithless, slept, Another form of woman bent,

Another dark eye wept. She could not stand amid the crowd

Of mourners lingering near ; She might not, seen by human eye,

Drop for the dead a tear.

Then blame her not-her woman-heart

Has borne and still must bear
A weary weight of untold woe,

A life-dream of despair.
Oh! chide her not-within her soul

Are feelings deep and true,
Which only need some quickening touch

To bring them to onr view.
Yes, she will turn with willing trust

When grief its force has spent,
And with her firm unyielding pride

Will gentler thoughts be blent. Then pray for her ! pray that her faith

May to her God be given, And that her crushed and broken heart

May place its trust in heaven. Warwick, R. I.

seemed mingling into one, the soul of the aged Prince was slowly unfolding its pinions for flight. The recording angel had already tipped his pen with fire to enter a new name in the Lamb's Book of Life.

The race of the good man was nearly run. He was reclining upon his couch, pale and languid, yet full of resignation and hope. The balmy breeze, stealing in through the open window, Jaden with the perfume of flowers, ever and anon lifted aside his snowy locks, revealing a brow radiant with divine beauty, as was that of Moses when he descended from the Mount. Before him on the carved wall, hung the stainless sword which he wore by his side when in the vigor of youth he journeyed as a pilgrim to the Holy Sepulchre. Upon its golden hilt rested a beam of the lingering light, as if grasped by the glowing hand of a seraph. It was a beautiful omen, and as he gazed upon it, pleasant and serene were the thoughts that arose in his mind.

As the mellow twilight deepened, the faithful Spalatin read to him in a tender voice from a book with silver clasps. That book was the Bible. With glowing earnestness he set before him the glorious promises of the Redeemer. The soul of the dying Prince became filled with a holy calm. His thoughts were of God and eternity. Near by stood an hour glass. As Spalatin arose to turn it, the dying man remarked that life would pass with the falling sands. According to the custom of those times, his domestics were gathered around the couch, gazing in tears upon the venerable features of him whom it had been their cherished privilege to serve. “My little children,” said he, tenderly, “ if I have offended any one of you, forgive me for the love of God; for we princes often offend against such little ones, and it ought not so to be.”

Feeling that his last moments were drawing near, he destroyed a will he had made years before, in which he had commended his soul to the Virgin Mary; and dictated another, expressing his trust in Christ, the Son of the good and holy God, and his firm assurance of a glorious immortality. This being done, he added, "My strength fails me, I can say no more.” Shortly after this he “ fell asleep.” “ He was a child of grace,” exclaimed his physician, “and in peace he has departed."

“Oh," said Luther, “how bitter to his survivors was that death !"

Such were the last hours of Frederic the Elector of Saxony, the man whom God selected in a time of great corruption, to serve as a tree under

A. E. R.

FREDERIC OF SAXONY.

The long sultry day was drawing to a close. The deepening shadows of the hills, that bound the western horizon, lay like a thick pall on the green luxuriant meadows. Beyond, on the grim turrets of the castle, flooding them with the richest crimson, flickered the last rays of the setting sun.

At that sweet hour, when heaven and earth

whose sheltering boughs the seed of truth might

ed the College at Wittemberg, that nursery of germinate and shoot forth without being uproot- the great reformers; and laid the foundation ed by the tempests around it.

upon which they stood and hurled down the live His death was an index of the life he had liv- thunder-bolis scathing and scorching on Rorce's ed--a life crowded with deeds as great as they dungeon doors. Unto those who had arrayed were noble. Among the kings and princes of themselves against the corruptions of the church, his time, he was without a peer; and willingly he declared, that within his borders they should did they yield him the homage and deference have freedom of speech and ample protection. due to the exalted virtues of his character. The Consequently, large numbers of bold-hearted wisdom of the serpent, the gentleness of the men, apostles of the second era of our Lord, perdove, the simplicity of childhood and the divin- secuted in other countries, took refuge in Saxoest courage, were so harmoniously blended in ny as an asylum in which they could be secure. his nature, so lost in each other, that like the Here they conversed together, strengthened fabled alchemy which transmutes all things into themselves in the faith, and communicated to gold, they beatified and ballowed every thought each other the experience and knowledge they and act. His soul, deep, pure and earnest, was

had acquired. like the ancient temple of the gods, lighted only Doubtful indeed might have been the success from above. Men looked upon him as a living of the reformers, had it not been for his protecoracle. His voice was as sacred as if his lips tion and counsels. Through the darkest days of had been touched by inspiration. The most the conflict, when weary and disappointed, they powerful monarchs of the age in which he lived, leaned upon his strong arm and gained fresh an age more remarkable than any that had courage. Says an able writer, “ Frederic was dawned since the birth of Christ, in times of precisely the prince that was needed for the cratrial and danger, when they felt their thrones dle of the Reformation. Too much weakness tottering 'beneath them, solicited his counsels on the part of those friendly to the work, might and listened to his advice as children to a pa- have allowed it to be crushed. Too much haste rent. He was always calm, always great. In would hare caused too early an explosion of the the midst of a revolution that shook the nations storm that from its origin gathered against it. to their centre, he stood firm and unmoved as a Frederic was moderate but firm. He possessed rock in the ocean bed. The throne upon which that Christian grace which God at all times rehe sat, though its direct power was confined to quires from his worshipers. We may well ada single province, exerted an infuence almost as mire the wisdom of Providence in the choice of potent as that of the Cæsars in their palmiest such a prince to guard the small beginnings of days. From the realm that he governed, as its work. from a throbbing heart, the life-blood of truth The Electors of the adjoining provinces, comwas sent forth through the arteries of the civil- posing the confederacy of the German Empire, ized world. Saxony, under Frederic, was the were remarkably tenacious of their reputation as cradle of the Reformation.

Christian princes. The slightest suspicion of For a thousand years the city of the Seven heresy filled them with fears. The Roman Hills, founded by the nurseling of a ferocious Court had skilfully taken advantage of this dis. wolf, and whose power had extended over a position of mind. But with Frederic it was not hundred climes, was the prison-house of Chris- He knew that truth was not always on the tianity. There enveloped in the thick darkness side of the strongest. The disputes of the Emof superstition and error, she had brooded until

pire with Rome, had taught him to discern the it seemed as if her very nature had become policy of that Court. He had arrived at the changed. Feeding upon her own vitals, she conclusion, that to be a Christian prince, it was had become vast and hideous; and like a mon- necessary to be a slave to the Pope. He carester drunk with blood and covered with ghastly fully read the writings that were put forth, and scars, she recled to and fro with the clanking of would not allow any to destroy what he thought her corroding fetters. The nations to whom she true. He possessed the power. More than one had been sent as the herald of light and freedom, Luther was indebted to him for his life. groaned and sickened bencath her awful shadow.

At the Diet of Worms, agreeable to the earnUnto Frederic it was given in a measure to pre- est wish of the Elector, his confidential counsel. pare the way for her liberty and regeneration. lor, Frederic of Thon, a man remarkable for his When Luther was but a beardless boy, he found- prudence and sagacity, stood by the Reformer's

[ocr errors]

one.

side giving him aid and comfort through the grim superstitions with which tyrants had enwhole of that fiery trial. Had it not been for thralled his reason and liberty. God had filled this cool, cautious man, Luther's passions and their hearts with a patriotism that burned strong zeal might have hurried him into the snare pre- within them even in death. “Possessed of a pared for him by his subtle foes, and he have wisdom that no sophistry could baffle, a moral fallen an easy prey to the power of the Pope. heroism which no dangers could appal--careless

When the life of the Reformer was demanded of personal interests and consequences, tramby the Pope, of the Emperor Charles, that mon- pling under foot that petty ambition which conarch made reply, “Raised as I have been so re- stitutes the master passion of ignoble ininds, cently to the throne, I cannot, without the ad- impenetrable by corrupting influences, and deaf vice of my counsellors and the consent of the to every erring solicitation however flattering, princes of the Empire, strike such a blow as this they bent all their energies to the promotion of against a faction so pumerous and powerfully the interests of their country and the restoration protected. Let us first ascertain what our Fa. of their tallen race.” It was given unto them, ther, the Elector of Saxony, thinks of the mat- once in the life of each, to reject the splendid ter; we shall then be prepared to give an an- temptation of a crown. For this self-denial swer."

they shall receive each a crown of stars, bright The position in which the power of giving and imperishable in the kingdom of God. Like this decision placed the Elector, was a difficult the apostles of the living God, they sought not

On one side was arrayed the Emperor, for self-aggrandizement and the accumulation of the princes of the realm and the sovereign Pon- power and dominion, but only to promote the tiff; on the other, stood a solitary man, a poor glory of Him whom they served. and humble monk. The reign of Charles had Such was Frederic of Saxony. O that I had just began. Shall Frederic the oldest, the wis- time and a pen of fire, that I might record in this est of the sovereign princes of Germany, be the sketch the noble deeds of his life! But they are first to kindle discord in the Empire ? And be- already embalmed wiih the life-blood of the sides, how should he forfeit the praise of that master spirits of the world. Time has touched, devotion which led him in earlier days on his as with a wand of inspiration, the lips of elolong pilgrimage to Jerusalem ? His pure con- quent bards and chroniclers, and they have science dictated a decision as just as it was no- clothed his nawe "in thoughts that breathe and ble. It was this: Neither his Imperial Majes- words that burn.” That name shall be rememty nor any one else, had made it appear to him bered while Christianity endures. It stands rethat Luther's writings had been refuted, or de- corded among the great and good of earth, the monstrated to be fit only for the flames; there- benefactors of the human race-high in the pafore, he demanded that Doctor Luther should be

ges of history, in the annals of the world. furnished with a safe conduct, and permitted to answer for himself before a tribunal composed

Erie, Pa. of learned, pious and impartial judges.

When the tidings of this decision reached the little band at Wittemberg, they were transport

TUE CONTRAST. ed with joy, and conceived the most sanguine hopes of the future. · The German nobles," exclaimed Melancthon, “ fired with renewed enthusiasm, will follow the guidance of the Prince

“THE plague ! the plague !" the wild cry passed

With all the terror it could bring, whom they revere as their Nestor. If Homer styled his aged hero the bulwark of the Greeks,

And wilder grew the frantic crowd

Beneath the shade of death's dark wing. why may not Frederic be surnamed the bulwark of Germany ?"

"Bring out your dead !” from morn till night, The parallel between the Elector of Saxony

From night till morn, that voice of gloom

Filled every aching heart with dread, and our own Washington, is most striking. In

And told that fated city's doom. the complicated excellence of character, in all

There was one spot that still remained that was great and magnanimous, they were

In quiet undisturbed reposealike. They came into the world on the same

One street from which the voice of song mission-to lift man to the station for which

With midnight revel still arose. God had formed him, and to put to flight those

Fresh from the dance with her brown hair

G. V. M.

1.

Then came wild memories crowding thick

of happier, gladder, freer days, When with her hand in Ernest's clasped,

She listened to his voice of praise. Then thoughts of one who came from far

With darker curls and brighter eye, And stole her plighted lover's heart,

Called forth a deep and bitter sigh. She thought how Ernest's voice grew harsh,

And, with her misery all untold, She saw him win a queenlier bride,

While her own heart grew still and cold. Then came the long and fearful blank

When madness on her spirit fell, Chilling her young heart's very life,

And then a convent's gloomy cell.

III.

Braided with costly jewels bright,
Her fair cheek flushed and her dark eyes

Eager and restless with delight,
The young wife sank upon a seat

And smiled as he, her hope and pride Came fondly with his loving glance

And drew her gently to his side. “ Soul of my soul, my Isabelle,

Dearer to me than even life, My angel presence in this world,

My peerless Isabelle, my wife !" She twined her hand amid his curls

Of raven hair so deeply black, Then with a wild and fearful cry

Trembling and faint she started back. “O Ernest, Ernest, 'tis the plagne !”

Then, dearest, it is thus we'll die, With love the same in life and death

No, one embrace, then, darling, fly!" She saltered-could she have the strength

To brave the plague's polluted breath ? And lay her cheek against his own ?

She shuddered for the touch were death. Yet hers was something of the soul

That woman 'mid life's ills should bear, And so she knelt while from his brow

She brushed the locks of damp’ning hair, And with a cheek all pale and cold,

She pressed her lips upon his own, She yielded to his wild caress

One moment-then he was alone. “ Father !” he cried, “is this the love

With which my worship is repaid ? Life of my life, soul of that love

Which I idolatry have made !
She loves me not ! O can it be

That woman's love is ever this?
A flower that fades amid life's cares,

And only blooms in hours of bliss !"
He placed his hand upon his brow,

He felt the death-damp gathering there, And moaning sank he down to die,

Forsaken in his deep despair.

The morning came-o'er Ernest's couch

That slender female figure bent,
With earnest eye and throbbing heart,

Upon her task of love intent.
She clasped her hands, and throwing back

Her glossy wealth of golden hair,
She sank upon her bended knees

And breathed to heaven a grateful prayer. She rose and gazed upon his face

" Ah ! let him sleep " she gently said, And sinking on a crimson couch

She pressed her hands upon her head. “O Holy Mother ! is this death?

How sweet it is to die for him!And o'er her pale face stole a smile

While round her still the light grew dim. The sultry hours of noontide passed

And still the pale girl watched his sleep, And gladly marked upon his face

The faint returning color creep. 'Twas almost sunset-but the girl

Had crept still closer to his side, And with his hand clasped in her own,

With smiling lip had gently died.

IV.

II.

Slowly that night, before the house,

Paced to and fro a slender girl,
Close veiled beneath a nun's dark robe,

But yet one long and silken curl
Had 'scaped from ’neath the heavy hood,

And lay like sunshine sleeping there,
While now and then she'd lift her veil,

Betraying features, O how fair ! Weary at length upon the steps

of snow-white marble she sat down, And weeping kept her silent watch

With the dim star-light round her thrown.

My dark-eyed bride, my Isabelle !"

And with a fond and wild embrace He clasped that dead form in his arms,

Then gazed on that remembered face. Those long rich curls so golden bright,

That face so child-like and so fair, That rounded cheek, so closely pressed

Upon her long, damp, tangled hair,
Spoke to his heart of days long past,

And with a thrill of agony,
He uttered “ This is woman's love

That lives through wrong and misery !”

« AnteriorContinuar »