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began. Sir John harangued at considerable whom I see here to day, I'm sadly afraid length and with undoubted weight, exposing that that means yourselves. I, too, am a the countless blunders of a discredited ad- ratepayer; and my experience-I can't say ministration; but perhaps he was a trifle whether it's yours or not—is that my rates too weighty for his audience, and his tone are quite heavy enough already." throughout was one of unqualified gloom. And so forth, and so forth. The speech He obtained a succès d'estime. Other speakers, was well received, and Mr. Giles retired more or less dreary, followed him and were amidst prolonged applause. listened to with resignation by some and “What do you think of that, Mr. Seundisguised impatience by others. Then grave ?” a voice well known to Gilbert arose a stoutish, middle-aged man, with a whispered in his ear. smooth-shaven face, a cock nose and a “I think it would be a very good thing if twinkle in his eye. He advanced to the we could get the gentleman over to our front of the platform, his hands tucked side," answered Gilbert, laughing. "Who under his coat-tails, and took a deliberate is he? Do you know anything about survey of the sea of upturned faces below him ?” him.
"I know just this about him, that he's “This is their trump-card,” whispered the likely to be your opponent at Kingscliff, and Admiral to Gilbert; “Pollington has been that it'll take a good man to beat him," was telling me about him. He's a man called Mr. Buswell's reply. “A man who, as I Giles, a Q.C., and a rare good speaker, they told you the other day, can show that he has say.
the welfare of the place at 'eart," he added Mr. Giles soon showed that he possessed significantly. at any rate that essential condition of popular Gilbert turned away. Until lately he had oratory which Sir John Pollington lacked; flattered himself—indeed, Buswell had as for he made the crowd listen to him. He good as assured him—that he would have a passed lightly over foreign affairs, remarking walk over; but now it seemed that this had that that subject had been pretty thoroughly been rather too hasty an assumption. Under dealt with in the admirable speeches which the circumstances, it was a little provoking they had just heard, and that if Liberal | to find Admiral Greenwood bubbling over statesmen had any defence to offer of their with laughter at the enemy's jokes, and quite policy in Egypt and Afghanistan, all he could set upon making the enemy's acquaintance, say was that it hadn't yet been put into an with a view to asking him to dinner. intelligible shape. But he should like to “You had better get Sir John Pollington say a word or two about the great benefits to introduce you,” said Gilbert, and sauntered which these same statesmen were promising away across the grass with Kitty, to whom, to bestow upon the community if only they if to no one else, he felt that he might fairly were restored to power in the new parlia- look for sympathy. ment. And then he began to be extremely But even Kitty, it appeared, was not symfunny. He ridiculed the theory that sub- pathetically disposed on that inauspicious dividing land would make it more produc- day; for she opened the conversation by tive — a theory which might serve well saying : enough to elicit a round of cheers from Bir- “I am so delighted to hear that Beatrice mingham artisans, but which would hardly Huntley has bought the Manor House. She go down with farmers, or with farm-labourers used to talk about it sometimes; but I never either. He was very good-humoured, he thought that she really meant it. Aren't you told some capital stories, made one or two glad ?” telling points and kept his audience on the “Considering that I particularly wanted broad grin from first to last.
to buy the Manor House myself, I can't say “ Free education, compulsory sale of land, that I am," answered Gilbert, with a touch and all the rest of it, these are tempting of asperity. “When I made Brian an offer offers, gentlemen ; but the worst of them is for it some months ago he gave me to underthat our Radical friends don't propose to stand that he had no intention of selling; pay for them out of their own pockets. Oh, but I suppose he couldn't resist the temptadear no! Yet somebody must provide the tion of making a good round sum and servfunds; and if you don't know who'll be ing me a nasty turn at one blow.” called upon to fulfil that humble, necessary “Oh, I am sure he never meant to serve function, I think I can tell you. Why, the you a nasty turn !" cried Kitty. ratepayers ! And by the look of most of you In the depths of her honest little heart she
was conscious of not being quite as delighted "I don't understand,” said Kitty. as she ought to be at the prospect of her
But Gilbert did not care to be more exfriend's acquiring a permanent establishment plicit. He changed the subject, and soon at Kingscliff; but that Brian should be pro- afterwards took his departure. As he drove vided with means sufficiont to live upon home, he said to himself that although clever seemed to her to be a subject for unmixed women may not be altogether desirable as satisfaction, and presently she made a timid wives, a certain degree of intelligence is no remark to that effect.
such bad thing. Hitherto Kitty had always “I am quite with you there,” declared backed him up blindly and submissively, but Gilbert, who seldom suffered himself to dis- when he had stated what was no more than play temper for more than a moment; "only the simple truth, that Brian had placed his Î confess that I should have been better election in jeopardy, she had looked almost pleased if he had consented to deal with me indignantly at him and had declared that instead of with Miss Huntley. You may be she did not understand. Surely she might right in taking the most charitable view of have understood that much! And then, for his conduct, but it is certainly unlucky that the second time, he fell to wondering what he should have done the only thing that it his future lot in life might have been if he was in his power to do to imperil my elec- had not happened to lose his heart to Kitty tion."
THE BLIND READER.
That, deaden'd with the city's din,
Those quiet messages that speak That will not pass nor change its place, Of comfort to the worn and weak. Rests, mixing with a look that fain
Thus, day by day, she sits and reads, Would hint of uncomplaining pain ;
A tone within her voice that pleads; And that expectant gaze that lies
And, just at times for listeners Forever in unseeing eyes,
Who look up to those eyes of hers, As if in thought she, too, must wait
Children, who gather round her knee, Beside the thronging city gate,
In silent awe to hear and see, For Him whose gentle finger-tips
And watch with motionless surprise Once drew from eyes their long eclipse. Her speaking lips and sightless eyes. All this is on her pale sad face,
Is it the story as of old, As still her thin white fingers trace
In answer to the over-bold? The words her patient lips repeat
That Truth before she bows her head, To passers-by upon the street,
To enter with her gracious tread, Who hear them not, or, if they hear, To give her welcome sweet and fair, It is but with a feverish ear,
A child's heart must be beating there?
BIBLE CHARACTERS. BY THE LATE CHARLES READE, D.C.L., AUTHOR OF “It's Never Too LATE TO MEND,” ETC.
III.-NEHEMIAH. ONCE in the history of mankind a mortal In our little (so-called) predictions we go
man told a nation its history in detail, by two guides-experience of the past, and predicting the near and the distant future shrewd calculation of the future founded on so distinctly that both seemed to lie equally that experience. But this diviner had no close to his eye on one map of events. (Deu- help from either of those guides to the teronomy xxviii., xxix., xxx.)
future ; on the contrary, the things he fore
told were unprecedented, inconsistent with a remarkable fact, which merits profound each other, incredible, and to human reason study, and has been skimmed accordingly. absurd.
But they left a few idolaters, and these lea(1.) You shall drive out all the nations vened them, so that in time idolatry and the that now inhabit Canaan; shall take that true worship flourished side by side. Someland and hold it.
times one had the upper hand, sometimes (2.) If you keep the divine law I have the other. Neither was ever extinct. Now just promulgated, you shall enjoy that nations are not like individuals ; they cannot country, and its soil shall teem with fruit be judged at all in the next world, and even fulness.
in this world they must be judged by their (3.) If you do not keep this divine law, majorities. This people, then, were judged that land and you shall wither under every in this world by their fluctuating majorities, curse that can strike man, beast, and soil, and alternately cursed and blessed for about and at last you shall be driven out of it. nine hundred years. Yet, though the double
(4.) If after that you shall repent, and prediction of Moses was all this time recorded, turn again to God and His commandments, and read out at times to the people, and He will pity you, and turn your captivity, though alternate blessings and curses were and restore you, and punish your enemies, its running comment and illustration, they who have afflicted you with His consent, but could never make up their minds unaniwith no good motive on their part.
mously whether to worship the God of Now here was a string of inconsistent im- Israel and be blessed, or false gods and be probabilities.
cursed. (1.) The land of Canaan was held by At last, when they were proved incurable warlike tribes, with cavalry, chariots of war, in Canaan, the long-predicted chastisement and walled cities.
fell on them. Israel, being the greater The Hebrews were a half-armed infantry, idolater, was carried away captive first. encumbered with a mob of women and chil- Judah soon followed, and her desecrated dren. They had no strongholds, but must Temple was despoiled and destroyed. Part advance on the Canaanites from tents, and of the nation was slaughtered in battle or retreat to tents whenever worsted, either in famished on the road ; a few thousands of skirmish or drawn battle.
the lower sort remained at home, but with(2.) To conquer Canaan and its cities out their temple, their rites, their national from tents, they must by degrees master the existence. The cream of Judah and Israel art of war so thoroughly that, with their were really transported to Babylon and its proved superiority as soldiers, and the for- neighbourhood, by a monarchy which had tresses acquired by that conquest, no nation long practised that prodigious kind of transcould dispossess them, still less transplant plantation. (See Herodotus, passim.) them to a distance.
Even now, according to Moses, this people (3.) Suppose, as a wild hypothesis, the might repent, and if so, they would return improbable conquest and incredible trans- to their own land, and their captors suffer in plantation of such a people accomplished; turn. that expatriated mass would then, as a matter But, humanly speaking, what chance was of course, blend with the greater nation there that Israelites or Jews would unlearn that received them.
idolatry at Babylon? Why, what had all (4.) In two more generations the absorbed their idolatry come of ? Imitation. Under and absorbing people would be so compact, the early Judges they could not as a nation that it could not possibly be decomposed, withstand the example of a few conquered and the Hebrew multitude return spontane- idolaters, who worshipped false gods in ously by miracle as they had been exported groves for want of temples. In the height by miracle.
of their glory their wisest king was decoyed
into idolatry by the example of his intellecYet every tittle of the incredible and tual inferiors, his wives and concubines. contradictory romance Moses foretold came Imitation and example set them bowing at true.
one time to a contemptible fish-god; at That half-armed infantry drove out the another to a fiend whose worship entailed warriors of Canaan, and took their land, and the burning of their children. Now at Babyobeyed God's law there, and reaped the lon idolatry was example and authority into promised blessings till Joshua and the elders the bargain. At Babylon idolatry was who knew him and survived him were all dead : glorious, sublime; had every charm and seduction to win the sensual understanding as stood apart could not discern the noise and divert it from the unseen God.
of the shouts of joy from the noise of the If you and I and an archangel had been wailing of those aged men. endowed with absolute power, but left to Yet the leaders of the heathen nations our own wisdom, human and angelic, I am that were settled in Judea baffled this good persuaded that neither that archangel nor work by their intrigues for twenty-one years, you nor I should have sent the Hebrews to and then at last the Temple was built and Babylon to unlearn idolatry ; so wide and dedicated. But none of those poor old men impassable is the gulf between the sagacity lived to weep again, comparing the finished of created beings and the genuine prescience Temple with Solomon's in all its glory. that marks their Creator—for constant pre- Besides the new Temple and its services, science implies omniscience.
the restored Jews had prophets, especially Babylon, bright centre of captivating Haggai and Zechariah, and no doubt there idolatry, commenced an everlasting cure of was a great revival. But it is clear that in Jewish idolatry, which punishments, bless the course of years there was a decline; and ings, miracles, could never effect in the land fifty-seven years after the rebuilding of the of Canaan. I keep in reserve a comment or Temple, Ezra went up from Babylon to two on this historical curiosity.
purify the degenerating descendants of those Meantime, "sweet were the uses of adver- pious patriots. sity.” The captivity roused great examples The support Ezra had from Artaxerxes, of faith, revived the necessity for miracles— king of Persia, and consequently of Babyand so miracles came-reawakened the lyre lon, his touching gratitude to that monarch of Judah, which had slept since the days of and to Him who “is enthroned in the heart David, and stirred up the noblest army of of kings," the abuses he found rampant, his prophets that ever preached in any period tears and ardent prayers to God, his tempoof Hebrew story.
rary success, and the great revival of the law The Book of Daniel, the most sustained he inaugurated, Dei gratia, are written in and grandest of all the prophetical and his- the last four chapters of the book that bears torical books, was written in Babylon itself, his name. and partly in the Chaldaic tongue.
Ere long that impregnable city, Babylon, About fourteen years after this revival, falsified its past history, defied all human and ninety-two years after the edict of Cyrus, probability, and bowed to Hebrew prophecy. Singleheart stepped upon the scene. He was Behind its enormous walls, it had laughed a Jew, born probably in Persia, and rose, in invaders to scorn for centuries; yet it was spite of his origin, by rare ability, to a high taken, a few years after it had torn that place in the service of Artaxerxes. His title suffering people from their land.
was cup-bearer ; but all such titles are misCyrus, descendant of the conqueror, had leading. He was a statesman and a courtier, no sooner succeeded to the throne of Persia, and it was only one of his duties to taste the to which Babylon and Palestine were now wine before he poured out for the king, equally subject, than he issued a most re- and so secure him at his own risk against markable edict; he alleged Divine inspira- poison. This royal favourite, bred in soft tion, and by order of the Most High-as Persia and lodged in those earthly paradises, he declared—invited the Jews to go up to the summer palace and winter palace of his Jerusalem and build the Temple to Him monarch, had yet “ Jerusalem written on his whom he, Cyrus, proclaimed to be the true heart." God. He restored to the Jews their sacred It was what they call winter in Persia, but vessels, and assisted them with his vast re- what we should call balmy spring. Singlesources.
heart, better known as Nehemiah, was leadThe leader of this return was Zerubbabel. ing a life of delights with the king at ShuWhen the returned captives laid the foun- shan, when Hanani, a pious Jew, who had dation of the new Temple, there came a gone with a company to visit Jerusalem, retouch of nature which never, whilst books turned from that journey.
Nehemiah quesendure, shall pass from the memory of man- tioned him eagerly about their city and kind.
The young and the middle-aged countrymen. praised God with shouts of joy; but many Then Hanani and his fellows hung their of the priests and Levites, who were ancient heads, and told Nehemiah that the remnant men, and had seen the first Temple in its of the captivity in that land were in great glory, wept with a loud voice ; so that such | affliction and reproach; the wall of Jerusa
lem, also, was broken down, and the gates later on of a little trumpery prince, “It is burned with fire.
the voice of a god." See now how Jerusalem was beloved by It was Singleheart's duty to present the her exiled sons ! Born, bred, and thriving cup to this earthly divinity: So he took up in soft, seductive Persia, the true-hearted the golden goblet, filled it ceremoniously, Jew Nehemiah was struck down directly by and offered it with a deep obeisance, as he these words. He who had a right to stand had often done before ; but now for the first on the steps of the greatest throne in the time with a sorrowful face. world sat down upon the ground, and fasted This was so strange a thing in him, or inand wept and prayed before the God of deed in any courtier, that the king noticed Heaven; and this was his confession and his it at once ; even as he took the cup his eye prayer : “O Lord God of heaven, we have dwelt on this sad face, and he said directly, dealt very corruptly against thee, and have “Why is your countenance sad ?” not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, Nehemiah was too much taken aback to nor the judgments whieh thou commandedst reply. The king questioned him again. “You thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech are not sick ?” thee, the word that thou commandedst thy Still no reply. servant Moses, saying, "If ye transgress, “This is sorrow, and nothing else.” I will scatter you abroad among all nations ; Then Nehemiah was sore afraid, and I will but if ye turn unto me, and keep my com- tell you why. His life was in danger. Even mandments, and do them; though you were a modern autocrat like Louis XIV. expected cast out unto the uttermost part of the everybody's face to shine if he did but apheaven, yet I will gather you from thence, pear, and how much more an Artaxerxes ! and will bring you into the place that I have What, wear a sorrowful face when he was chosen to set my name there.' O Lord, I presiding over joy and gaiety, and gilding beseech thee, let thine ear be attentive to them by his presence! If he had ordered the prayers of thy servants, who desire to this melancholy visage away to prison or fear thy name : and prosper, I pray thee, death, it would have been justified by prethy servant this day, and grant him mercy cedent, and loudly applauded on the spot by in the sight of this man.
all the guests. Public men are slaves as well as masters, But though Nehemiah felt his danger, yet their consciences seldom their own, their the king's actual words were not menacing, time never. Neither their pleasures nor their and the courtier found courage to tell the griefs can be long indulged. The bereaved simple truth. He salaamed down to the statesman is not allowed to be quiet and to ground. “Let the king live for ever!” After mourr; he must leave the new grave and this propitiatory formula, he replied, "Why the desolate home for his arena, sometimes should not my countenance be sad, when must even take part in a public festivity with the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, a bleeding heart. This very thing beféll Ne- lieth waste, and its gates are burned with hemiah. Like the poor actor who must go fire ?" from a home with a coffin to play his
part in These are brave words, and can be read comedy, and laugh and fool with the rest, aggressively; only that is not how Nehemiah sad Singleheart had soon to rise from his spoke them. It was his to propitiate, not to knees, and don his gay raiment and mingle offend, and his tones were broken-hearted in a brilliant and jocund scene.
and appealing, not contumacious. Great Artaxerxes gave a superb banquet You must read the words so, if
you would to his nobility: the queen was there—no be one in a thousand, and really understand every-day event. You may let loose your
them. imagination without fear; it will not go be- The king answered him accordingly. yond the splendours of the Persian court on “What do you ask of me?" said he. that occasion. Gold plate by the ton, gorge
Then Nehemiah set us all an example. ous silk dresses of every hue, marble pillars, He did not answer the king out of his own fountains, music, lights to turn night into head, and pray for wisdom six hours afterday, slaves, sultanas, courtiers resplendent as wards, because it was bed-time. He prayed stars, and all worshipping their sun Arta- standing on the spot, and, like a skilful gunxerxes; smiling when he smiled, laughing ner, shot the occasion flying. Strengthened when he laughed, applauding him to the echo, by ejaculatory prayer, the soul's best weapon, and thinking it little to say of this king of he said, "If it please the king, and if thy monarchs what Eastern adulation could say servant has found favour in thy sight, pray