Imágenes de páginas

He now divided his time between him and Mary: and John in the house of his father, and Mary in the Temple, grew up like two fair flowers, to the joy of all believers, daily increasing in wisdom and piety.

When Mary had grown to womanhood, there appeared to her one day, while she was alone in her cell, Gabriel in full human form.

Mary hastily covered herself with her veil, and cried, "Most Merciful assist me against this man."

But Gabriel said, "Fear nothing from me. I am the messenger of thy Lord, who has exalted thee above all the women of earth, and am come to make known to thee His will. Thou shalt bear a son, and call him Isa, the Blessed one. He shall speak earlier than all other children, and be honoured both in this world and in the world to come!"

"How shall I bear a son," replied Mary, affrighted, "since I have not known a man?"

"It is even so,” replied Gabriel. "Did not Allah create Adam without either father or mother, merely by his word 'Be thou created?' Thy son shall be a sign of His Omnipotence, and as His prophet, restore the backsliding sons of Israel to the path of righteousness."

When Gabriel had thus spoken, he raised, with his finger, Mary's robe from her bosom, and breathed upon her.

"Thereupon she ran into the field, and had scarcely time to support herself on the withered trunk of a date-tree before she was delivered of a son. Then cried she, "Oh that I had died and been forgotten ere this, rather than that the suspicion of having sinned should fall upon me!"

Gabriel appeared again to her, and said, "Fear nothing, Mary. Behold, the Lord causes a fountain of fresh water to gush forth from the earth at thy feet, and the trunk on which thou leanest is blooming even now, and fresh dates are covering its withered Lranches. Eat and drink, and when thou art satisfied, return to thy people; and if any one shall inquire of thee respecting thy child, be thou silent and leave thy defence to Him."

Mary plucked a few dates, which tasted like fruit from Paradise, drank from the fountain, whose water was even like milk, and then went, with her child in her arms, unto her family; but all the people cried out to her, "Mary, what hast thou done? Thy father was so pious, and thy mother so chaste."

Mary instead of replying pointed to the child.

Then said her relations, "Shall this new-born child answer

“Do not sin in suspecting my mother. Allah


But Jesus said,

has created me by His word, and has chosen me to be His servant and prophet."

Then follows an account of Christ's miracles, among which is one characterised by the child-like simplicity of the Orientals, that Christ, by the will of Allah, created various kinds of birds out of clay, which he animated with his breath, so that they ate and drank, and flew up and down like natural birds. Dr. Weil, of Heidelberg, argues, in respect of these Oriental legends of the Nativity, that it is not difficult to discover in them the views of a baptised Jew. He acknowledges in Christ the living Word and the Spirit of God, in contradistinction to the dead letter and the empty ceremonial into which Judaism had then fallen. In the miraculous birth of Christ there is nothing incredible to him; for was not Adam, too, created by the word of the Lord? He admits all the miracles of the Gospel; or had not the earlier prophets also worked miracles? Even in the Ascension he finds nothing strange; for Enoch and Elias were also translated to heaven. But that a true prophet should place himself and his mother on a level with the Most High God is repugnant to his feelings; and he refuses, in like manner, to believe in the crucifixion, because it appears to him to reflect upon the justice of God, and to conflict with the history of former prophets, whom He had delivered out of every danger.

This view of the matter is rendered all the more probable, as it well known that Muhammad was not only ignorant of every spoken or written language, except the Arabic, which he only learned late in life to write, and even to read, and that he was thus, in consequence of that ignorance, entirely restricted to oral instruction from Jews and Christians. Among those instructors with whom the prophet lived on intimate terms, were, Abd Allah Ibn Salam, a learned Jew, Salman, the Persian, who had long lived among Jews and Christians, and who before he became a Mussulman, was successively a Magian, Jew, and Christian, and the monk Bahira, who was a baptised Jew, but with whom he had only brief intercourse at Bozra. The whole legend shows, however, how painfully deceived Muhammad was by those who spoke to him of the Lord Jesus Christ; but, if, even with his imperfect knowledge, he believed Him to have been a great prophet, it is questionable if he might not have been led to believe in His Divinity, had he been able to read the Gospel, or had he even had it expounded to him by the cousin of his wife, Kadidja, to whom he was probably chiefly indebted for his religious education, and, who, before becoming a Mussulman, had, after abandoning the religionof Arabia, his native country, sought refuge, first in Judaism, and then in Christianity, but without finding a standpoint in either.




ANOTHER year! why record its monotonous misery; frequent change of residence from Biarritz to Mentone, from the lovely shores of the Mediterranean to the mountain regions of Norway; everywhere something to ruffle the Earl, indeed, more sterness, deeper gloom, to drive the hapless pair away.

Their last change was to Kissengen (then an obscure village on the skirt of the Black Forest, but for many years in great repute by Dr. Granville's recommendation of its medicinal baths). Here they had resided two months; heavy-heavy time!-as one after the other loosened and broke down some portion of that wondrous fabric with which God has endowed the human frame for man's health and comfort; too often, alas! fatally injured by his own follies. A total want of employment, or any recreation, was of itself a severe pull on the constitution; for though Lord Belmont sat for some hours with a book in his hand, this was more an excuse for silence than any edification he derived from the subject; he never rode on horseback, or walked beyond a short distance from the house. Poor Lady Belmont had tried and tried to find some employment, but her devoted love caused her thoughts continually to wander towards him whose every step and look she studied. As yet no Divine spark burst forth from dull mortality, and exulting in its triumph over the body, felt the power of raising the mind of the creature to the image of the Creator; all was of the earth—and earthy.

As one morning, in the lonely chamber, Lady Belmont sat half dressed, her untasted breakfast beside her, she sank down on her pillow, and thronging to memory came all the changes of her life -her playful childhood-the merry smiles of her brothers and sisters her beautiful girlhood-a parent's pride and love-her friends-the prospects so bright around her—the meeting with Lord Belmont-their first words of love, blissful to her young heart-all these scenes came before her mind, and brought a bewildered impression.

The door opened, a footstep was near, a voice, trembling and

mournful, pronounced her name; she started up, and gazed for one instant in her husband's face. Lord Belmont was there, his countenance struck her with an indescribable awe, she turned away without another look or power of uttering a word. Yes! those quivering features and haggard eyes bore witness to the bodily and mental agonies the sufferer had endured that night; the struggle of an awakened conscience, the full sense of his selfishness and harsh unkindness towards her who had so long borne it without complaint, the conviction that he should soon be called away without retrieving the past; yet from the deep wells of human suffer. ing had arisen a holy comfort—a feeling that his Heavenly Father bad accepted his repentance-all this gave the expression that so overpowered his wife.

"Hear me," he cried, with a grasping earnestness; "oh, turn not away! I feel I deserve nothing but hatred, but in the dread night watches your blessed smiles seemed to hover over me and speak pardon; then grant me one look, one word, before I die." He pressed her to his bosom, repeating, "Speak to me, pardon me, before I die."

"Oh! say not that word, my darling, precious love! Speak not of pardon. Oh, George, George! you will be more to me now than ever." She clung to him breathing sweet plaintive murmurs, like the gentle cooing of the turtle-dove over her wounded mate.

All that day as the sick man reclined, exhausted in mind and body, his Fanny knelt beside the couch, and the frequent pressure of his emaciated hand, held in her soft, dewy palm, proved he felt comfort.

After a while, with some effort, Lord Belmont rose, and, pointing to a writing-table, expressed by signs some immediate communication. Fanny sat down by the table and took the pen.

"Write to Woodlands," said her husband, "and order preparations for our return; you shall no longer be dragged a wanderer over the world. I wish to leave you with our own people-I wish to die there."

"Oh, do not think of that, my darling! We will return; at Woodlands, rest and quiet will restore you. Oh, yes, George, each day you will regain strength and peace of mind. We shall be so happy!" "Would it were permitted," said the Earl; "but the decree is gone forth. I cannot live-all the blessings of this life thrown away, and, greatest loss than all, your love, all thrown away."

The Woodlands letter finished, he himself dictated one to Dr. C-, announcing their intention to return, and requesting his presence. "I remember," said he, "at Lucerne he parted from me in displeasure. I was in fault; he spoke the truth; he is a true friend of yours, Fanny, and I wish him to be near you."

From this hour Lord Belmont expressed constant anxiety for the homeward journey, which in a few days was commenced; his state of illness caused great fatigue in travelling, but the anxious desire to reach England supported him through, and having crossed the Channel, he allowed no further delay, proceeding immediately to Woodlands. Lord and Lady Belmont's kindness and munificence had won the affection of their poor neighbours, so that their arrival was expected by gladsome hearts, and as the carriage dashed rapidly through the village, the church bells struck forth a merry peal.

"What mockery!" exclaimed the fainting sufferer, "when these bells will soon toll "-he stopped-the deep shadows of grief on Fanny's face showed she felt the remark.

At the park gates the village children stood with smiles and courtesies, offering bouquets of primroses and violets.

On entering the house, many recollections overthrew the little strength which intense effort had maintained; and for a few days the Earl was unable to think or act. But there were plans for Lady Belmont's future comfort to be carried out, and the anxious husband soon rallied to the task. On the Sunday after their return Lord Belmont expressed his intention of attending morning service in the parish church. They went early-the Woodlands pew was in the gallery. The early feeble steps required assistance to mount the stairs; when gained, husband and wife sat down in the same place they occupied so few years since, the first Sunday after their marriage. The bride had then drawn down her veil, to hide the blushing beauties which attracted every eye; again the veil is down, but saturated with tears. And, he, whose beaming happiness shone in his vigorous health and manhood-can that shrunk, attenuated frame-that cheek of ashy paleness-can it be Lord Belmont?

The worthy Rector, with best intention, but questionable tact, made some allusion to the brevity of all earthly bliss, and the duty of preparing for a speedy change. This quite overcame the restraint of poor Fanny's feelings, hiding behind a pillar in the pew, she sobbed unnoticed. The Earl's devout manner throughout the service evinced no change. The sermon ended, the congregation dispersed, villagers, as they homeward trod the church path, talked together of the former rejoicing, the bonfires and feasting, when the noble pair came down to Woodlands. The dance on the Meadow Croft; how a chair for the bride was wreathed with flowers, and how the Earl led down the dance with Mrs. Jones, the blacksmith's pretty wife. "Sad change!" was the chorus.

"No wonder !" said Farmer Giles, the oracle of the village, "No wonder! I'll be bound he never tasted a juicy slice of Southdown or sirloin of beef since he left England; how can a man thrive on stewed frogs and saur-kraut?


« AnteriorContinuar »