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though they seem to have a necessary relation to the point in
hand ; sometimes they add those things which have no great
reference to the subject, but are suited to allure or refresh
the mind and the ear. They dilate sometimes, and flourish
long upon little incidents, and they skip over, and but
lightly touch the dryer part of the theme. They omit tilings
essential which are not beautiful ; they insert little needless



A LOVE STORY. 191

chcumstances, and beautiful digressions: they invert times
and actions, in order to place everything in the most affect-
ing light; they place the first things last, and the last
things first with wondrous art ; and yet so manage it as tc
conceal their artifice, and lead the senses and passions of
their hearers into a pleasing and powerful captivity."



CHAPTER VIII.

MB. BACON 8 PARSONAGE. CHRISTIAN RESIGNATION. TIME AND
CHANGE. WILKIE AND THE MONK IN THE ESCURIAL.

The idea of her life shall sweetly creep

Into his study of imagination;

And every lovely organ of her life

Shall come apparelled in more precious habit,

More moving delicate, and full of life,

Into the eye and prospect of his soul,

Than when she lived indeed.

SHAKESPEARE.

IN a Scotch village the Manse is sometimes the only good
house, and generally it is the best ; almost, indeed, what in
old times the Mansion used to be in an English one. In Mr.
Bacon's parish, the vicarage, though humble as the benefice
itself, was the neatest. The cottage in which he and Marga-
ret passed their childhood, had been remarkable for that com-
fort which is the result and the reward of order and neatness :
and when the reunion which blessed them both rendered the
remembrance of those years delightful, they returned in
this respect to the way in which they had been trained up,
practised the economy which they had learned there, and
loved to think how entirely their course of life, in all its cir-
cumstances, would be after the heart of that person, if she
could behold it, whose memory they both with equal affec-
tion cherished. After his bereavement, it was one of the
widower's pensive pleasures to keep everything in the



192 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

state us when Margaret was living. Nothing was neglected
that she used to do, or that she would have done. The
flowers were tended as carefully as if she were still to enjoy
their fragrance and their beauty ; and the birds who came
in winter for their crumbs, were fed as duly for her sake, as
they had formerly been by her hands. *

There was no superstition in this, nor weakness. Im-
moderate grief, if it does not exhaust itself by indulgence,
easily assumes the one character or the other, or takes a
type of insanity. But he had looked for consolation, where,
when sincerely sought, it is always to be found ; and he had
experienced that religion effects in a true believer all that
philosophy professes, and more than all that mere philos-
ophy can perform. The wounds which stoicism would cau-
terize, religion heals.

There is a resignation with which, it may be feared,
most of us deceive ourselves. To bear what must be
borne, and submit to what cannot be resisted, is no more
than what the unregenerate heart is taught by the instinct
of animal nature. But to acquiesce in the afflictive dispen-
sations of Providence, to make one's own will conform in
all things to that of our Heavenly Father, to say to him
in the sincerity of faith, when we drink of the bitter cup,
" Thy will be done ! " to bless the name of the Lord as
much from the heart when he takes away as when he gives,
and with a depth of feeling, of which, perhaps, none but the
afflicted heart is capable, this is the resignation which re-
ligion teaches, this the sacrifice which it requires.* This
sacrifice Leonard had made, and he felt that it was accepted.

* This passage was written when Southey was bowing his head
under the sorest and saddest of his many troubles. He thus alludes
to it in a letter to J. W. Warter, dated October 5, 1834.

" On the next leaf is the passage of which I spoke in my letter from
York. It belongs to an early chapter in the third volume ; and very
remarkable it is that it should have been written just at that time."



A LOVE STORY. 193

Severe, therefore, as his loss had been, and lasting as its
effects were, it produced in him nothing like a settled sor-
row, nor even that melancholy which sorrow leaves behind.
Gibbon has said to himself, that as a mere philosopher he
could not agree with the Greeks, in thinking that those who
die in their youth are favored by the Gods :

*Ov of Bfoi (j>i\ovcriv diro6vr}(TKei. vcos.

It was because he was "a mere philosopher," that he
failed to perceive a truth which the religious heathen ac-
knowledged, and which is so trivial, and of such practical
value, that it may now be seen inscribed upon village tomb-
stones. The Christian knows that "Blessed are the dead
which die in the Lord ; even so saith the Spirit." And the
heart of the Christian mourner, in its deepest distress, hath
the witness of the Spirit to that consolatory assurance.

In this faith Leonard regarded his bereavement. His
loss, he knew, had been Margaret's gain. What, if she had
been summoned in the flower of her years, and from a state
of connubial happiness which there had been nothing to dis-
turb or to alloy ? How soon might that flower have been
blighted, how surely must it have faded, how easily
might that happiness have been interrupted, by some of
those evils which flesh is heir to ! And as the separation
was to take place, how mercifully had it been appointed
that he, who was the stronger vessel, should be the survivor !
Even for their child this was the best, greatly as she needed,
and would need, a mother's care. His paternal solicitude
would supply that care, as far as it was possible to supply
it ; but had he been removed, mother and child must have
been left to the mercy of Providence, without any earthly
protector, or any means of support.

For her to die was gain ; in him, therefore, it were sinful
as well as selfish to repine, and of such selfishness and sin
his heart acouitted him. If a wish could have recalled her
y M



194 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

to life, no such wish would ever have by him been uttered,
nor ever have by him been felt; certain he was, that he
loved her too well to bring her again into this world of in-
stability and trial. Upon earth there can be no safe happi-



Ak! male FORTUNE devota est ara MANENTI.
Fallit, et hcec nullas accipit ara pi-eces.*

All things here are subject to Time and Mutability :

Quod tibi largo, dedit Horn dextra,
Horn furaci rapid sinistrdj

We must be in eternity before we can be secure against
cnange. " The world," says Cowper, " upon which we close
our eyes at night, is never the same with that on which we
open them in the morning."

It was to the perfect Order he should find in that state
upon which he was about to enter, that the judicious Hooker
looked forward at his death with placid and profound con-
tentment. Because he had been employed in contending
against a spirit of insubordination and schism which soon
proved fatal to his country ; and because his life had been
passed under the perpetual discomfort of domestic discord,
the happiness of Heaven seemed, in his estimation, to consist
primarily in Order, as, indeed, in all human societies this is
the first thing needful. The discipline which Mr. Bacon had
undergone was very different in kind : what he delighted to
think was, that the souls of those whom death and redemp-
tion have made perfect, are in a world where there is 110
change, nor parting, where nothing fades, nothing passes
away and is no more seen, but the good and the beautiful
are permanent.

Miser, chi speme in cosa mortal pone ;
Ma, chi non ve la pone '! \

* Wallius. f Casimir. \ Petrarch.



A LOVE STORY. 19,5

When Wilkie was in the Escurial looking at Titian's
famous picture of the Last Supper, in the refectory there,
an old Jeronimite said to him, " I have sat daily in sight of
that picture for now nearly threescore years ; during that
time my companions have dropped off, one after another,
all who were my seniors, all who were my contemporaries,
and many, or most of those who were younger than myself;
more than one generation has passed away, and there the
figures in the picture have remained unchanged ! I look at
them till I sometimes think that they are the realities, and
we but shadows ! " *

I wish I could record the name of the monk by whom
that natural feeling was so feelingly and strikingly ex-



" The shows of things are better than themselves,"

says the author of the Tragedy of Nero, whose name also
I could wish had been forthcoming; and the classical reader
will remember the lines of Sophocles :

l Op<5 yap Tjpas ovdcv ovras oXXo, TT\T)V

otronrfp o>/Ltev, TJ KOV<J)T)V (T<idv. t



These are reflections which should make us think

Of that same time when no more change shall be,

But steadfast rest of all things, firmly stayd

Upon the pillars of Eternity,

That is contraire to mutability ;

For all that moveth doth in change delight :

But thenceforth all shall rest eternally

With Him that is the God of Sabaoth hight,

O that great Sabaoth God grant me that sabbath's sight. J

* See the very beautiful lines of Wordsworth in the " Yarrow
Revisited." The affecting incident is introduced in "Lines on a
Portrait."

\ Sophc:les. J Spenser.



196 ROBERT SOUTHEY.



CHAPTER IX.

A COUNTRY PARISH. SOME WHOLESOME EXTRACTS, SOME TRUH
ANECDOTES, AND SOME USEFUL HINTS, WHICH WILL NOT BE
TAKEN BY THOSE WHO NEED THEM MOST.

Ifyr, e inconveniente, che ddle cose delettabili dlcune ne sieno utili, cosi come
dell' utili moke ne sono delettabili, et in tutte due alcune si truovono
honeste.

LEONE MEDICO (HEBREO.)

MR. BACON'S parsonage was as humble a dwelling in all
respects as the cottage in which his friend Daniel was born.
A best kitchen was its best room, and in its furniture an
Observantine Friar would have seen nothing that he could
have condemned as superfluous. His college and later
school books, with a few volumes which had been presented
to him by the more grateful of his pupils, composed his
scanty library : they were either books of needful reference,
or such as upon every fresh perusal might afford new
delight. But he had obtained the use of the Church Li-
brary at Doncaster by a payment of twenty shillings, accord-
ing to the terms of the foundation. Folios from that
collection might be kept three months, smaller volumes,
one or two, according to their size; and as there were
many works in it of solid contents as well as sterling value,
he was in no such want of intellectual food, as too many of
his brethren are, even at this time. How much good might
have been done, and how much evil might probably have
been prevented, if Dr. Bray's design for the foundation
of parochial libraries had been everywhere carried into
effect !

The parish contained between five and six hundred souls.
There was no one of higher rank among them than entitled
him, according to the custom of those days, to be styled



A LOVE STORY. 197

gentleman upon his tombstone. They weie plain people,
who had neither manufactories to corrupt, alehouses to
brutalize, nor newspapers to mislead them. At first com-
ing among them he had won their good-will by his affability
and benign conduct, and he had afterwards gained their
respect and affection in an equal degree.

There were two services at his church, but only one ser-
mon, which never fell short of fifteen minutes in length, and
seldom extended to half an hour. It was generally abridged
from some good old divine. His own compositions were
few, and only upon points on which he wished carefully
to examine and digest his own thoughts, or which were
peculiarly suited to some or other of his hearers. His whole
stock might be deemed scanty in these days ; but there was
not one in it which would not well bear repetition, and the
more observant of his congregation liked that they should be
repeated.

Young ministers are earnestly advised long to refrain
from preaching their own productions, in an excellent little
book addressed by a Father to his Son, preparatory to his
receiving holy orders. Its title is a "Monitor for Young
Ministers," and every parent who has a son so circum-
stanced would do well to put it into his hands. " It is not
possible," says this judicious writer, " that a young minister
can at first be competent to preach his sermons with effect,
even if his abilities should qualify him to write well. His
very youth and youthful manner, both in his style of writing
and in his delivery, will preclude him from being effective.
Unquestionably it is very rare indeed for a man of his age
to have his mental abilities sufficiently chastened, or his
method sufficiently settled, to be equal to the composition
of a sermon fit for public use, even if it should receive the
advantage of chaste and good delivery. On every account,
therefore, it is wise and prudent to be slow and backward in
venturing to produce his own efforts, or in thinking that



198 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

they are fit for the public ear. There is an abundant field
of the works of others open to him from the wisest and the
best of men, the weight of whose little fingers, in argument
or instruction, will be greater than his own loins even at his
highest maturity. There is clearly no want of new compo-
sitions, excepting on some new or occasional emergencies :
for there is not an open subject in the Christian religion,
which has not been discussed by men of the greatest learn-
ing and piety, who have left behind them numerous works
for our assistance and edification. Many of these are so
neglected that they are become almost new ground for our
generation. To these he may freely resort, till expe-
rience and a rational and chastened confidence shall warrant
him in believing himself qualified to work upon his own
resources."

'He that learns of young men," says Rabbi Jose Bar
Jehudah, " is like a man that eats unripe grape*, or that
drinks wine out of the wine-press ; but he that learneth of
the ancient, is like a man that eateth ripe grapes, and drink-
eth wine that is old." *

It was not in pursuance of any judicious advice like this
that Mr. Bacon followed the course here pointed out, but
from his own good sense and natural humility. His only
ambition was to be useful; if a desire may be called ambi-
tious which orgiuated in the sincere sense of duty. To
think of distinguishing himself in any other way, would for
him, he well knew, have been worse than an idle dream.
The time expended in composing a sermon as a perfunctory
official business, would have been worse than wasted for
himself, and the time employed in delivering it, no better
than wasted upon his congregation. He was especially
careful never to weary them, and, therefore, never to preach
anything which was not likely to engage their attention,
and make at least some present impression. His own ser-

* Lightfoot.



A LOVE STORY. 199

raons effected this, because they were always composed with
some immediate view, or under the influence of some deep
and strong feeling: and in his adopted ones, the different
manner of the different authors produced an awakening
effect. Good sense is as often to be found among the illit-
erate, as among those who have enjoyed the opportunities
of education. Many of his hearers who knew but one
meaning of the word style, and had never heard it used in
any other, perceived a difference in the manner of Bishops
Hall and Sanderson and Jeremy Taylor, of Barrow and
South and Scott, without troubling themselves about the
cause, or being in the slightest degree aware of it.

Mr. Bacon neither undervalued his parishioners, nor over-
valued the good which could be wrought among them by
direct instruction of this kind. While he used perspicuous
language, he knew that they who listened to it would be
able to follow the argument ; and as he drew always from
the wells of English unclefiled, he was safe on that point.
But that all even of the adults would listen, and that all
even of those who did, would do anything more than hear,
he was too well acquainted with human nature to expect.

A woman in humble life was asked one day on the way
back from church, whether she had understood the sermon ;
a stranger had preached, and his discourse resembled one of
Mr. Bacon's neither in length nor depth. " Wud I hae the
persumption ? " was her simple and contented ans\ver. The
quality of the discourse signified nothing to her ; she had
done her duty, as well as she could, in hearing it; and she
went to her house justified rather than some of those who
had attended to it critically ; or who had turned to the text
in their Bibles when it was given out.

" Well, Master Jackson," said his minister, walking home-
ward after service with an industrious laborer, who was a
constant attendant ; " well, Master Jackson, Sunday must be
a blessed day of rest for you, who work so hard all the



200 EGBERT SOUTHEY.

week ! And you make a good use of the day, for you are
always to be seen at church ! " " Ay, sir," replied Jack-
son, " it is indeed a blessed day ; I works hard enough all
the week, and then I comes to church o' Sundays, and sets
me down, and lays my legs up, and thinks o' nothing."

" Let my candle go out in a stink, when I refuse to con-
fess from whom I have lighted it" * The author to whose
little book f I am beholden for this true anecdote, after say-
ing, " Such was the religion of this worthy man," justly
adds, " and such must be the religion of most men of his sta-
tion. Doubtless, it is a wise dispensation that it is so.
For so it has been from the beginning of the world, and
there is no visible reason to suppose that it can ever be
otherwise."

" In spite," says this judicious writer, " of all the zealous
wishes and efforts of the most pious and laborious teachers,
the religion of the bulk of the people must and will ever be
little more than mere habit, and confidence in others. This
must of necessity be the case with all men, who, from defect
of nature or education, or from other worldy causes, have
not the power or the disposition to think ; and it cannot be
disputed that the far greater number of mankind are of this
class. These facts give peculiar force to those lessons
which teach the importance and efficacy of good example
from those who are blessed with higher qualifications ; and
they strongly demonstrate the necessity, that the zeal of
those who wish to impress the people with the deep and
awful mysteries of religion should be tempered by wisdom
and discretion, no less than by patience, forbearance, and
a gieat latitude of indulgence for uncontrollable circum-
stances. They also call upon us most powerfully to do all
we can to provide such teachers, and imbue them with such
principles as shall not endanger the good cause by over

* Fuller. t Few Words on many Subjects.



A LOVE STORY. 201

earnest efforts to effect more than, in the nature of things,
can be done ; or disturb the existing good by attempting
more than will be borne, or by producing hypocritical pre-
tences of more than can be really felt"



CHAPTER X.

SHOWING HOW THE VICAR DEALT WITH THE JUVENILE PART OF
HIS FLOCK J AND HOW HE WAS OF OPINION THAT THE MORE
PLEASANT THE WAT IN WHICH CHILDREN ARE TRAINED UP TO
GO CAN BE MADE FOR THEM, THE LESS LIKELY THEY WILL
BE TO DEPART FROM IT.

Sweet were the sauce would please each kind of taste,
The life, likewise, were pure that never swerved;

For spiteful tongues, in cankered stomachs placed,
Deem worst of things which best, percase, deserved.

But what for that ? This medicine may suffice,

To scorn the rest, and seek to please the wise.

SIR WALTER RALEIGH.

THE first thing which Mr. Bacon had done after taking
possession of his vicarage, and obtaining such information
about his parishioners as the more considerate of them
could impart, was to inquire into the state of the children
in every household. He knew that to win the mother's
good-will was the surest way to win that of the family, and
to win the children was a good step toward gaining that
of the mother. In those days reading and writing were
thought as little necessary for the lower class, as the art
of spelling for the class above them, or indeed for any
except the learned. Their ignorance in this respect was
sometimes found to be inconvenient, but by none, perhaps,
except here and there by a conscientious and thoughtful
clergyman, was it felt to be an evil, an impediment in
the way of that moral and religious instruction, without
which men are in danger of becoming as the beasts thai
9*



202 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

perish. Yet the common wish of advancing their children
in the world, made most parents in this station desire to
obtain the advantage of what they called book-learning for
any son, who was supposed to manifest a disposition likely
to profit by it. To make him a scholar was to raise him a
step above themselves.

Qui ha les lettres, ha I'adresse

Au double d'un qui n'en ha point.*

Partly tor this reason, and still more that industrious moth-
ers might be relieved from the care of looking after their
children, there were few villages in which, as in Mr.
Bacon's parish, some poor woman in the decline of life and
of fortune did not obtain day-scholars enough to eke out her
scanty means of subsistence.

The village schoolmistress, such as Shenstone describes
in his admirable poem, and such as Kirke White drew from
the life, is no longer a living character. The new system
of education has taken from this class of women the staff
of their declining age, as the spinning-jennies have silenced
the domestic music of the spinning-wheel. Both changes
have come on unavoidably in the progress of human affairs.
It is well when any change brings with it nothing worse
than some temporary and incidental evil ; but if the moral
machinery can counteract the great and growing evils of
the manufacturing system, it will be the greatest moral
miracle that has ever been wrought.

Sunday schools, which make Sunday a day of toil to the
teachers, and the most irksome day of the week to the chil-
dren, had not at that time been devised as a palliative for
the profligacy of large towns, and the worsened and worsen-
ing condition of the poor. Mr. Bacon endeavored to make
the parents perform their religious duty toward their chil-
dren, either by teaching them what they could themselves
teach, or by sending them where their own want of knowl-
*Baif.



A LOVE STORY. 203

edge might be supplied. Whether the children went to
school or not, it was his wish that they should be taught
their prayers, the Creed, and the Commandments, at home.
These he thought were better learned at the mother'? knees
than from any other teacher ; and he knew also how whole-
some for the mother it was, that the child should receive
from her its first spiritual food, the milk of sound doctrine.
In a purely agricultural parish, there were at that time no
parents in a state of such brutal ignorance as to be unable
to teach these, though they might never have been taught
to read. When the father or mother could read, he ex-
pected that they should also teach their children the
Catechism ; in other cases this was left to his humble
coadjutrix, the schoolmistress.

During the summer and part of the autumn, he followed
the good old usage of catechising the children, after the
second lesson in the evening service. His method was to
ask a few questions in succession, and only from those who
he knew were able to answer them ; and after each answer
he entered into a brief exposition suited to their capacity.
His manner was so benevolent, and he had made himself
so familiar in his visits, which were at once pastoral and
friendly, that no child felt alarmed at being singled out;
they regarded it as a mark of distinction, and the parents
were proud of seeing them thus distinguished. This prac-
tice was discontinued in winter ; because he knew that to
koep a congregation in the cold is not the way either to
quickei or cherish devotional feeling. Once a week during
Lent he examined all the children, on a week-day; the last
examination was in Easter week, after which each was sent
home happy with a homely cake, the gift of a wealthy
parishioner, who by this means contributed not a little to
the good effect of the pastor's diligence.

The foundation was thus laid by teaching the rising gen-



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