Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

instructive warning of what the people were to expect, should they suffer the King to proceed in his tyrannical attempts at converting his subjects, and were perhaps as influential in preparing the Revolution, as the celebrated song of Lillibullero was in precipitating it. Under one of these graven mementoes the idiot had coiled himself up on the floor, betraying by a vacant smile that he recognized Grace, as she entered, while he pointed to his sleeping father as if to explain his silence. No sooner, however, had he discovered the basket which his sister carried, and in which she occasionally brought him scraps of cake and savoury relics from Harpsden Hall, to afford him the only gratification his unfortunate nature would allow, than he started hastily up, and devoured the welcome prize with a gluttonous avidity.

But the principal object of Reuben's attention was the father, although but little of him could now be seen, his daughter having spread a handkerchief over his head, to protect him while he slept from the wind, which the casements of the rude cottage could not effectually


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

trious Russel and Algernon Sydney, who, as I

exclude. His body was thrown into shade
from the position in which he sat, but the light
of a candle fell full upon his right hand, ex-
tended over a Bible upon a table beside him,
and Reuben gazed upon it with a feeling that
nearly amounted to reverence. Its proportions

a man of almost Herculean force and stature, the prominent sinews and muscles attesting the strength of the cordage by which the solid bones were lashed together, while the thick black hairs curled over them, like the tendrils of ivy wreathed around the root of some mighty oak as it grapples the earth with its gnarled fingers. That is the athletic hand, thought Reuben to himself, which has wielded the victorious sword in many a hard fought field, from Newbery fight to the battle of Worcester ;-that is the hand which has guided the plough through fair weather and foul, ere the sun has become visible, except to the rejoicing lark in the sky, and after his setting has been announced by the bat and the owl;—there, too, is the hand which has been pressed by the illus

mind when the old man awoke, drew himself to ness, for his figure appeared almost gigantic al 178 have learnt from his daughter, did not disdain : 215 to honour a moral and religious patriot with their friendship, although he was a humble et de ser tiller of the earth.

Such were the reflections passing through his cette upright in his chair, and removed the handkerchief with which he was covered. The effect to upon Reuben was impressive, even to awful

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

when he sat upright; and as he slowly unveiled his grand and venerable head, it seemed as if one of the ancient patriarchs were revealing himself once more upon earth. His beard, which he had suffered to grow since the death of his patron Sydney, was grizzled and of wiry texture, his high bald forehead was rippled with successive wrinkles, the deep lines of his face might almost be termed furrows, his complexion was sunburnt and weather-beaten ;-but the moral beauty remained uninjured by the ravages of time, the countenance was unbroken, it exhibited the same stern resolution, and inflexible fortitude which had stimulated hiin in

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

longer say with Ezekiel, that you are the de

his youth, and now upheld him in his old age. Even the blighting of all his earthly hopes had not disturbed the serene severity of his brow. He might be compared to some rocky statue of Egypt, which, although sands and solitude have desolated the fair prospects by which it was once surrounded, still rears its head from out the waste, unaltered by the lapse of time, or the vicissitudes of fate. His sightless orbs awakening the idea of physical helplessness, amid all these indications of moral power, afforded a touching evidence of the misfortunes to which the noblest nature is liable, and tempered the effect of his somewhat stern physiognomy, by exciting in the beholder a feeling of compassion as well as reverence.

“ Did I not hear the gentle voice of my daughter ?" inquired the old man.

"I am here, my dear father,” said Grace, kneeling at his feet ; when he put both his hands upon her head, and having solemnly blessed her, raised her up, and kissed with great affection, exclaiming, “Grace! Grace! I may no

call you,

Joel! As the apple-tree among the trees of

light of mine eyes, but methinks since I have
ceased to see you outwardly, I love you more
tenderly within, and


with greater truth than ever,

the darling of my heart.” His daughter again embraced him, and proceeded to state that she had brought to their humble Zoar, as to a place of refuge, the youth who had received the dying breath of their beloved Joel. “He is right welcome to our abode, even as were the angels to the house of Lot,” said the father, stretching out his muscular hand, and grasping that of his guest with a force that almost painfully expressed the cordiality of his reception. “Where is Joel's Bible? He swore to me that he would uphold its pure doctrine against the tyrant,the Nebuchadnezzar who would set up idols in Babylon, or that he would die the death of the righteous; and he has redeemed his pledge like a true soldier of the Lord.” Reuben having put the Bible into his hands, he pressed it against his heart, and repeatedly kissed it with great fervour, ejaculating, “ My brave, my pious



[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »