« PreviousContinue »
them, and in many instances they have risen to eminence; but the frequency of their conversion to Christianity has tended to decrease their numbers; to which their connexion with the higher circles, and their improved education, have been supposed to excite them.
In Holland, they enjoy perfect equality of rank and privileges, and are intellectually on a par with the middle ranks; but the antipathies of the Dutch prevent their mingling in society, and their conversion to Christianity is very rare.
In the United States, the number of Jews is very limited; principally from their want of superiority either in intelligence or commercial acuteness. Their improvement in political science is very rapid in America; and to their employment in offices of state, and their commixture with general society, must be mainly attributed, by their departure from the ceremonial law, their intermarriage with the natives, and their alliance to Christianity.
In Turkey and its dominions, including the Holy Land, as in Barbary, they, in common with the Greeks, form the middle class, and rise in intellectual attainments above Turks and Greeks; the latter of whom are, for the most part, employed as artisans, soldiers, and sailors ; but, though both eligible to all offices of state, they are frequent subjects of degradation, and possess little or no influence. The enjoyment of independence by the Greeks will, in all probability, be beneficial to the Jews.
The aid afforded by the Jews, to a certain extent, in civilization, and their accredited confidence in all political matters, will hardly be overlooked by Mehemet Ali in the extension of his conquests ; and the great body of the Jews, wherever countenanced and privileged, fairly promise an illustration of the great truth, that the prosperity of nations may be measured by the increase and advance of its middle classes ; & truth powerfully displayed in the United States, both physically and intellectually; and in Scotland and France, intellectually only.
An unceasing characteristic of the Jews is acuteness of observation.
THE IDIOT. The heart, in many instances, is a better judge even of propriety in manners than the judgment. The judgment, in cases touching the conduct of individuals, is perhaps often too severe; for example, we are apt to regard with equal contempt the behaviour of the weak and the silly, without considering, that under the zero of reason there are many degrees before the human intelligence sinks to that of the animal instincts ; at least it is charitable to believe so; and it cherishes amiable sentiments to inculcate that doctrine.
Every reader of dramatic history has heard of Garrick's contest with Madame Clairon, and the triumph which the English Roscius achieved over the Siddons of the French stage, by his representation of the father struck with fatuity, on beholding his only infant child dashed to pieces by leaping in its joy from his arms: perhaps the sole remaining conquest for histrionic tragedy is somewhere in the unexplored region of the mind, below the ordinary understanding, amid the gradations of idiocy. The various shades and degrees of sense and sensibility which lie there unknown, genius, in some gifted moment, may discover. In the meantime, as a small specimen of its undivulged dramatic treasures, we
mit to our readers the following little anecdote :
A poor widow, in a small town in the north of England, kept a booth or stall of apples and sweetmeats. She had an idiot child, so utterly helpless and dependent that he did not appear to be ever alive to anger or self-defence. He sat all day at her feet, and seemed to be possessed of no other sentiment of the human kind than confidence in his mother's love, and a dread of the schoolboys by whom he was often annoyed. His whole occupation, as he sat on the ground, was in swinging backwards and forwards, singing, “Pal-lal,” in a low pathetic voice, only interrupted at intervals, on the appearance of any of his tormentors ; when he clung to his mother in alarm.
From morning to evening he sung his plaintive and aimless ditty ; at night, when his poor mother gathered up her little wares to return home, so deplorable did his defects appear, that while she carried her table on her head, her stock of little merchandise in her lap, and a stool in one hand, she was obliged to lead him by the other. Ever and anon, as any of the schoolboys appeared in view, the harmless thing clung close to her, and hid his face in her bosom for protection.
A human creature so far below the standard of humanity was no where ever seen; he had not even the shallow cunning which is often found among these unfinished beings; and his simplicity could not even be measured by the standard we would apply to the capacity of a lamb. Yet it had a feeling, rarely manifested even in the affectionate dog, and a knowledge never shown by any mere animal. He was sensible of his mother's kindness, and how much he owed to
At night, when she spread his humble pallet, though he knew not prayer, nor could comprehend the solemnities of worship, he prostrated himself at her feet, and, as he kissed them, mumbled a kind of mental orison, as if in fond and holy devotion. In the morning, before she went abroad to resume her station in the market-place, he peeped anxiously out to reconnoitre the street, and as often as he saw. any of the schoolboys in the way, he held her firmly back, and sang his sorrowful, “ pal-lal.”
One day the poor woman and her idiot boy were missed from the market-place, and the charity of some of the neighbours induced them to visit her hovel. They found her dead on her sorry couch, and the boy sitting beside her, holding her hand, swinging and singing his pitiful lay more sorrowful than he had ever done before. He could not speak, but only utter a brutish gabble ; sometimes, however, he looked as if he comprehended something of what was said. On this occasion, when the neighbours spoke to him, he looked up with the tear in his eye, and clasping the cold hand more tenderly, sung the strain of his mournful “ pal-lal” into a softer and sadder key.
The spectators, deeply affected, raised him from the body, and he surrendered his hold of the earthly hand without resistance, retiring in silence to an obscure corner of the room. One of them, looking towards
the others, said to them, “ Poor wretch! what shall we do with him ?" At that moment he resumed his chant, and lifted two handfuls of dust from the floor, and sprinkled it on his head, and sung with a wild, clear, heart-piercing pathos, "pal-lal-lal."-Blackwood's Magazine.
THE CONTRAST. We have seen the man of this world eagerly grasping after its wealth, succeeding in all his prospects ofaggrandizement,
flourishing like the green bay tree, and spreading his branches far and wide. We have seen him exulting in his prosperity, saying by his conduct, “ By my might, and by my wisdom, have these things been attained ;” and flattering himself that his mountain stood so fast, it could not be moved. We have seen him in the house of God, not an humble worshipper, but a self-conceited pharisee: when the thunders of Sinai were denounced against the impenitent, and the invitations of the gospel to the weary and heavy laden were exhibited, we have watched his countenance; it indicated self-security, and contempt of the precious blessings of the gospel. We have seen him in the hours of recreation ; God was not in all his thoughts, but self-gratification was his constant aim. We have listened to his loud unthinking laugh, and his profane language, and his derision of the gospel of the Son of God. We have heard him exulting in the prospects of enjoying a long life of pleasure, and speaking as if he were to continue here for ever.
At an unexpected hour, and when he was dreaming of his future greatness, and planning many schemes for future operations, we beheld a fearful storm gather thick and black around him.
His countenance, which but a day before was flushed with health, appeared pale and emaciated. His limbs, which had been active and lively, were racked with pain, tortured with disease. When his head was reclined on his death-bed pillow, where were all his golden dreams of felicity ? Alas! they were dissipated like the midnight vision. What could his riches then avail him ? How willingly would he have parted with them all for one month, in which to seek his peace with God. The minister of the gospel stood by his side in that sad hour ; he exhibited before him the love of God, in the gift of his Son; he endeavoured to point him to Christ as his only refuge. But, ah ! how could he look to Him whom he had despised, persecuted, and blasphemed all his life? Oh! that was a dreadful sight; hope had fled, despair was depicted in his countenance, awful forebodings of wrath wrung his heart with bitter anguish, and terrible to his soul was the apprehension of appearing before God in judgment. There was a fearful wildness in his eye; the big cold sweatdrops stood upon his brow, caused by the agony within ! When his soul looked to the future, it recoiled with horror from the scene; when it looked to the past, it would shrink within him, and all his system writhed with pain: and what a fearful struggle was that, when his heart was about to give the last throb, and he panted for his last breath, and his guilty soul was reluctant to depart! The sight was more than human nature could endure; the bystanders cast their eyes upon the ground, and a thrill of horror passed through every heart, when the departing spirit, with a loud and mournful groan, which reverberated through the room, bid the world adieu. The scene was sufficient to melt an adamantine heart, and chill one's blood with horror. But, oh! what became of the immortal spirit, after passing through that dreadful agony? Ah! let us cast a veil on that dark world, the inhabitants of which seek death, but find it not. But if this be the end of the wicked,
my soul, enter not thou into their secret; to their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united.”
We have seen the weary and heavy-laden, groaning for redemption in the blood of the Lamb, on her bended knees, with clasped hands, and eyes and heart turned to heaven; we have heard her, in the agony of her soul, cry out, Father of mercies, pity a wretch condemned to die ! we have knelt by her side, and laid before her the tender mercies of the compassionate God; we have dwelt upon the bloody passion and dying agonies of the sinner's Friend; we have pointed her to his precious blood, as the only remedy for that disease which was drinking up her spirits; we have watched the workings of her countenance, when, by the influences of the Holy Spirit, she was led to fix her mind on the Son of God as her only refuge; and her face lighted up, and beamed with joy, when by the eye of faith she first discovered the beauty, excellency, and suitableness of Him who is mighty to save, and when she cast herself on his mercy, and, in the sincerity of her soul, devoted herself to his service. Our heart leaped with joy, when, in accents of rapture, she emphatically whispered, "My Beloved is mine, and I am his.' He is a precious Saviour, the chief among ten thousands, and altogether lovely.'"
We have watched her conduct in future life. In her intercourse with society, she was no longer gay and vain ; but she was grave, sedate, and her conversation savoured of the gospel of the Son of God. We have conversed with her on the wonders of redeeming love, and were astonished at the rapid advances she made in the life of faith. We have seen her in the family circle ; there was a dignity and devotedness to God in all her actions. We have seen the young immortals, who were committed to her care, on their knees around her, while she would talk to them of Him she loved, and teach them to address his throne in accents of prayer and praise. We have seen her in the house of God, solemn, prayerful, and deeply interested with the service of the sanctuary. We have seen her tremblingly approach the sacramental board ; and when the emblems of the broken body and shed blood of Him in whom her soul delighted were put into her hands, we have seen the flood of tears that bedewed her cheeks, and have heard the stified groan that burst from her breast, on surveying that dark and tragic scene the ordinance was designed to commemorate. We have seen her in prosperity ; she was the humble follower of the Son of God. We have seen her in adversity; she was calm, self-possessed, and cheerful—for she knew in whom she trusted.
We saw her when her head was on her death-bed pillow ; we watched the workings of her once lovely, but now pale and emaciated countenance: there was no alarm--no fear depicted there ; but all was calm, placid, and serene. We heard her speak, but not in accents of complaint; no, her language was that of resignation, of joy and thankfulness. We heard her speak of herself—a sinner-a sinner—a guilty sinner, but saved from hell by the blood of Jesus; oh! that is a sweet name; I will trust in it, dwell on it, and cling to it; and then she would sing,
“ Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me." The clock struck twelve—“Ah!" said she, “before it strike again I will be at home with my Jesus ; and oh! why are his chariot wheels so slow ?” Then she stretched her arms to heaven, and cried “ I long to be with God.” She put her hand upon her head, and said, “ What is this ?” She paused—and then replied—“ This is death—the will of God be done.” The spectators waited for the last struggle, but her spirit had fled—no groan was heard—no sigh—but calmly she leaned her head on the bosom of Jesus, “and breathed her life out sweetly there;” and while attendant angels conveyed her departed spirit to the city of God, the language of all present was, “ Let me die the death of the righteous, let my last end be like hers.”
MY SISTER'S FUNERAL. The scenes which I am about to describe are not imaginary scenes ; neither are they coloured in the hues of fancy, to awaken interest or excite sympathy. They are pictures of reality, as many hearts can feelingly testify, and drawn in the unadulterated colours of truth.
It was my lot to be bereft of my hearing at an early age. For years I have found myself cut off from nearly all communication with the busy world around left solitary even in the social circle, a sad spectator of mirth I cannot comprehend, and pleasure I cannot share; deaf, and, except to a few familiar ears, dumb; yet denied that sad privilege of the deaf and dumb, who, blessed in ignorance, know not what they lose in losing the sense of hearing. Those who have never experienced the delights of that sense, through which the earth is made one vast harp of a million strings, by the least touch, by the slightest breath, wakened into thrilling music; of that sense which lets in the mingled current of thought and feeling that flows from mind to mind, and gathers strength and depth as it flows, till it bears on its ample tide the whole wealth of the intellectual world; or the bolder torrent of eloquence or poetry, that wraps the heart in wild delirium, and sweeps each passion in its course; of that sense which, more than all, thrills the heart to its inmost core, with
“ The sober certainty of waking bliss',' when the voice of love whispers in the ear the mutual feelings of kindred hearts ;—those who have never experienced any part of this, are insensible, happily insensible, to the withering power of that spell which the doom of perpetual silence throws round the deaf who once heard.
Still the deep night of my mind was not altogether starless-a