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THE lord's prayer."




" Turn to private life
And social neighbourhood ; look we to ourselves,
A light of duty shines on every day
For all." The Excursion.







e 6



*' I CANNOT imagine, Gertrude, how you contrive to
be so calm about every thing," said Edith, putting
her arm within her sister's, as they left the dining-
room, and leading her into the garden : " I watched
you during the whole of dinner, and never once saw
you look absent."

"I saw myself, though," said Gertrude, smiling;
" but indeed, Edith, you are enough to prevent any
one from being calm — half my worries now are for
you. I am sure you will be grievously vexed if
objections are made."

" Naturally enough," said Edith ; " and angry too,
perhaps ; for, after all, who is to hinder you from,
doing as you like with your own money ? "

" No one, legally," replied Gertrude ; " and if I
were some twenty or thirty years older, and had ex-
perience and judgment, I don't think any one would :
but it is the old story of times and circumstances
pointing out duty. I should feel I was presumptuous
in determining upon it, if such a man as Mr. Dacre
seriously objected ; for I sometimes think, Edith,"



and Gertrude's voice involuntarily assumed a deeper
tone, " that holy works should only be undertaken
by holy persons."

" And who is holy if you " began Edith, but

the sentence was unfinished.

" Who is holy, indeed ? " said Gertrude, not per-
ceiving her sister's meaning — " holy as one should
be who desires such a privilege as I am seeking.
Does it never seem to you, Edith, when you look
upon beautiful scenery, that nature is the only
temple fit for the worship of God?"

" Yes," replied Edith, " and I suppose, if our minds
were in a right state, devotion would be the natural
result of all keen perception of beauty ; but as it is,
we can so seldom view it without some lower asso-
ciations. It constantly appears to me like a stranger,
— as if I could see only the outward form, and the
spirit was hidden. I have looked upon this view,
for instance, day after day, and gained no real
pleasure or benefit from it."

" I can understand that," replied Gertrude, " and
it is humbling and disappointing to have nothing
but mean or common ideas suggested by what we
admire so much. That is the reason, I suppose,
why the solemnity of a church is generally neces-
sary to raise our minds. The natural temple is

" Yes," continued Edith, " the earth may be a
temple for angels, but it can never be for us."

" Only as we become more like them," replied
Gertrude ; " and then," she added with greater
earnestness, " can you not fancy, Edith, the infinite
charm of being able to read the spirit of nature
truly ; of being so thoroughly religious, as never to
look coldly upon the meanest flower, because God
made it, and really to feel that His voice was in the
thunder, and His glory upon the seas ? "


The tears were in Edith's eyes, and she paused
before replying. " Oh, Gertrude," she exclaimed at
length, " if it were only possible to be what we
know we ought to be I But how is it possible ? If
we lived alone in deserts, there might be a hope ;
but there can be none for us, when we are constantly
in contact with our fellow creatures, and so have
our worst feelings brought into play at every

" I have thought lately," replied Gertrude, " that
the difficulty might be less, but for our way of look-
ing at people, and thinking of them. If we could
constantly realise the fact that we are baptized
members of the Church of Christ, to live with our
fellow creatures would be not merely an intercourse
with human beings, but with souls training for

*' One is so apt to forget the very existence of a
church," said Edith.

" Yes, and yet I am sure that no mind can be
raised to its highest tone without a remembrance of
it ; because there is much involved in it : it tells
in a wonderful way upon daily life."

'•' I don't see that," replied Edith : " of course it is
a truth, and a great one ; but there seems nothing
very practical in it."

" So I should have said once," replied Gertrude,
" but I think, when a person begins to act up to the
rules of the Church, however imperfectly, they must
be felt to be a great assistance in keeping the mind
in a right state ; even though their meaning and
spirit are not thoroughly understood."

" You are speaking of yourself, Gertrude," said
Edith. " I always felt there was some great differ-
ence between us."

" Yes," replied Gertrude, " I was speaking of
myself, because we must be better judges of the
B 2


effect of certain princiiDles from our own experience
than from hearsay. My notions about the Church
began from practice. A friend talked to me of the
duty of observing certain days, and attending daily
services, which were just introduced at Farleigh ;
fche was not at all a clever person, and understood
notliing of controversy, but she was most entirely
in earnest, and never, that I could find out, know-
ingly omitted a duty; and all her argument was,
that fasts and festivals were ordered, and that there
was a form of daily service in the prayer-book,
which the clergyman of the parish intended to use ;
and she asked me whether I thought we were at
liberty to follow our notions of right, rather than
obey the rules of the Church."

"It is a strong way of putting the case," said
Edith : " the reasoning I have generally heard has
been upon a question of expediency."

" Perhaps I might have been inclined to reason
with any one else," said Gertrude, "but it was
impossible in that instance. I do not think she
would have understood it ; and when she saw me
pause and consider, she merely said, 'Don't you tliink
it would be safer to do what we are told ? ' "

" And did that convince you ? " exclaimed Edith.

" Not as to the theory, but it did as to the

" Yet you must have felt yourself immensely
superior to her all the time," began Edith; but
Gertrude stopped her before the completion of the

" Oh, Edith ! " she said, " you do not know of
whom you are speaking. Even then I felt she was
meet for happiness, and three months afterwards
she died. How could I be her superior ? "

" In intellect, surely you were, from your own
account," said Edith.


" But what is intellect?" replied Gertrude.
** How can it weigh for one instant in the balance
against an honest and good heart, which she pos-
sessed in a greater degree than any other person I
ever knew ? "

" I am afraid," said Edith, with a sigh, " that I
should not feel as you do. I could scarcely have
brought myself to listen to the suggestion of one
whose judgment I thought lightly of

" I did not think lightly of it," replied her sister.
" Consider, Edith, from whom all good comes.
Her knowledge of duty was clearly not the result
of human reasoning, and therefore seemed to claim
the more reverence."

" But about the Church," said Edith. " I don't
see how thinking of it will act upon daily con-

" Try," said Gertrude. " The next time a morn-
ing visitor comes, and you are worried at being
interrupted, just think of her as a member of the
Church, and therefore as having the same blessings
and the same prospects as yourself, and see whether
you will not feel an interest in her, and be much
more inclined to be kind and attentive to her."

Edith laughed, in spite of the seriousness of the
subject. " Don't be shocked at me, Gertrude," she
said, " but you know morning visitors are allowed
to be the greatest torments in life. Every one
says it ; and it seems absm'd to talk gravely about

" That is rather what I said just now," replied
Gertrude : " we create difficulties for ourselves.
Look at a morning visitor merely as a morning
visitorj and the tone of your mind is lowered di-
rectly ; — you cannot help it. She very frequently
breaks in upon your time, and tries your temper,
and you cannot help wishing to be alone again;
B 3


and when you once have this feeling, your style of
conversation will be lowered too; and as a mere
mode of passing a few minutes, you will naturally
speak of your neighbours."

" Yes," said Edith, " 1 have felt that many times.
I don't think really I am fond of gossip, but persons
would think I was who heard me talk, merely be-
cause, as you say, I want to pass away a few

"And yet morning visits are not trifles," said
Gertrude. " Even those which are most hurried
and uninteresting must make some impression upon
our minds — they must tell in some degree upon our
destiny for Eternity."

" It is a fearful way of viewing things," said

" But if it is true, dearest, why should we shrink
from it? Will it not be better to pass through
life with awe and trembling, watching our every
step, and so learning to lean the more steadfastly
upon God, than to wake up, when it is too late, to
the knowledge that what we called trifles were the
only opportunities afforded us of fitting ourselves
for heaven?"

" There would be but little merriment op earth
if all thought as you do, Gertrude," said Edith.

" No," replied Gertrude : " there would be care,
and prudence, and at times anxiety ; but when we
once set ourselves earnestly to the work, we should
be cheerful, as children are cheerful, who can play
in the midst of danger, because they have faith in a
father's power to protect them."

There was a short pause, which Edith was the
first to break. " I can fancy," she said, " that
dwelling much upon our position as belonging to
the Church would make things appear more serious,
if we could only remember it at the right time."


" It would become a habit by degrees," said Ger-
trude, " and then it would influence every action ;
and for this reason, — that it is to the Christian what
the consciousness of noble birth is to the man of
the world. It gives a feeling of dignity and im-
portance, though without any admixture of pride.
When we know ourselves to be what the Bible says
— 'heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ' — I
think we shall hardly be tempted to act lightly, and
the fear of falling away will be constantly before
us, to make us watch against sin. Do, dear Edith,
read over St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, care-
fully, and see whether the whole argument does not
rest upon this foundation ; and then think what a
calm, contented, humble tone of mind must be the
result of it."

" I am not sure that I do see it," replied Edith.

" You will own," replied Gertrude, " that as
members of the Church, there can be no rivalry, or
selfishness, or wish to attract notice beyond others.
Think of the feeling there is in a family when any
one is distinguished beyond the rest. The gra-
tification is felt by all, because the honour belongs
to all ; and so it is in the Church." Edith still
looked doubtful, and Gertrude continued : — " What
I mean," she said, " is, that if we labour for the
prosperity of a body, not for our own benefit, we
strike at the root of all selfishness ; and if we are
poor, or have no talents, or no opportunity of ex-
ercising them, we shall still be satisfied, because the
object we have at heart — the good of the Church
of Christ — will surely be attained, though not
through our means."

"And would that satisfy you?" said Edith.
" Could you, for instance, bear to be told that the
church at Torrington was to be built by another


Gertrude was silent, and when lier sister turned
to look at her, the expression of her countenance
showed that the question had excited some painful

" You have misunderstood me, dearest," she said
at length, in her usual quiet manner ; " I could not
dare to speak to you of myself, or of what I should
feel under any circumstances. To see the height
one longs to attain, is far different from setting out
on the weary journey to reach it."

" Yes," said Edith, and she sighed deeply ; " it is
a weary journey. And if you find it so, Gertrude,
what must it be to me ? "

Gertrude was about to answer, when the appear-
ance of Mr. Dacre at the farther end of the walk
stopped her.

" The hour is come at last," said Edith, with a
smile, which was checked, as she saw the colour
fade from her sister's cheek, and felt her arm

" Who would think I could be so absurd ?" said
Gertrude: "yet if he should bring forward any
objections I have not seen, it would be such a
bitter disappointment."

Edith was inclined to remind her of her own
principles, but she felt it would be almost a re-
proach. Gertrude, however, needed no suggestions;
" I know what you would say," she continued,
observing that Edith Was going to speak ; " if it
is not my duty, it will still be performed by the
person whom God sees fitted for it ; and theuj
Edith, you must teach me to submit.'*

Edith pressed her sister's hand, without ventur-
ing upon a reply ; and, turning into another path,
left Gertrude to open the subject of her wishes to
Mi\ Dacre.



"We thought you would have been tempted out
before this," was Gertrude's first observation, as she
walked by Mr. Dacre's side, not knowing how to
introduce the desired topic.

" Ten years ago I should have been," was the
answer ; " but illness makes an old man think
more of the charms of repose than of a beautiful
evening ; besides, you were so fully engaged, I
should only have been an interruption."

"Not that, indeed," exclaimed Gertrude, in an
eager, trembling voice : " I was wishing for you
so much — I thought — I wanted "

" Any thing that I can give ? " said Mr. Dacre,
struck by the hesitation so foreign to her usual

"I do not know," replied Gertrude, struggling
to regain self-possession ; " and yet I do know. —
If you would listen to me — I think that is what I
want most."

" You are looking upon me as a stranger," said
IMr. Dacre, in a tone of gentle reproof, " and it
does me injustice. I was a father once, and I have
not forgotten a father's feelings."

Gertrude tried to answer, but her words came
with diificulty. " I will tell you," she said at length,
" but indeed I do not think of you as a stranger ;
if I did, I could not let you know what is in my
thoughts." She stopped again ; and Mr. Dacre
looked at her inquiringly, —


" Do not keep me in suspense," he said ; " if I
can be of any service, you have only to name it."

" I don't know why I should trouble you," re-
plied Gertrude ; and then, unheeding the appear-
ance of abruptness, she continued, rapidly, " I have
a wish — a great wish : it has been in my mind for
years — and I think it is right, but I am not sure.
It is such an important thing ; so very serious ; it
does not seem as if it could be intended for me to
do it; — only I have the means. I — I wish, — I
should like," — and with evident effort the words
at last were spoken, — "I should be so glad to build
a church at Torrington." She paused, and finding
that Mr. Dacre did not immediately answer, con-
tinued, as if anxious to relieve herself of a burden
weighing upon her heart, — " You must know, I
think, that I am richer than my sisters. My aunt's
fortune is mine now ; I have five hundred a year
at my own disposal, and there are no claims upon
me yet ; and if there were, this would seem almost
the greatest, because the place belongs to Edward,
and he cannot do any thing for it himself, — he
has said so several times. If it were a common
thing, I should not hesitate ; but I think you will un-
derstand ; it would give me such pleasure, I am afraid
I may not see whether it is my duty ; and if I am
presumptuous, and do not undertake it rightly, God's
blessing may not go with it ; and I think about it
sometimes till I am frightened ; and fancy that
perhaps I ought to give away my money differently
now, upon things which would be greater sacrifices,
and wait for this till I have lived longer, and suffered
more, and learnt to be better, only the case seems
so urgent ; but then again I long to be able to do
it so much that perhaps I am not a good judge. It
may not be my duty, though I fancy it is — if you
would only give me your opinion."


Mr. Dacre still hesitated, and Gertrude, looking
at liim anxiously, said, " I have tried to prepare
myself for objections and disappointment."

" Needlessly, I hope," said Mr. Dacre, recovering
from the feeling of surprise at a request for advice
so different from any he could have expected ; " I
will tell you first, that I fully understand your feel-
ings. An offering of this kind is a most solemn
duty, and must not be undertaken lightly. It may
be that the spirit in which it is commenced will
prove a blessing or a curse upon generations to

" Thank you," exclaimed Gertrude ; " I thought
you would understand me. It has always appeared
to me very sad that worldly motives should be mixed
with works of religion ; and occasionally, when I
have seen the ruins of old churches and abbeys,
I have thought that there might have been some-
thing wanting in the spirit in which they were be-
gun, and therefore they were suffered to decay; and
it seemed impossible then that it could ever be my
duty to attempt such things."

" Yet," replied Mr. Dacre, " we must be careful
that self-distrust does not lead us into a morbid
fear of being presumptuous. The most fervent
piety could not prevent our offerings from being-
marred by some earthly alloy; and it would be
rather a doubt of God's mercy than of our own
worthiness, which would lead us to fold our hands
and do nothing, because what we did was not

" Then you think that I might — you do not see
any objections?" inquired Gertrude.

" Not at this moment," was the reply; but Mr.
Dacre's tone was less certain than Gertrude had
expected. " Can you bear to hear the subject dis-
cussed in a cool, dispassionate, perhaps you would


call it, a worldly manner, now that you know how
entirely I feel with you ?"

" Why should it be worldly?" said Gertrude.

" The word sounds out of place, I own ; but when
I say worldly, I do not for an instant mean to imply
that we must lower our principles, but merely that
we must not let zeal, however pure, warp our sober

Gertrude's countenance expressed disappoint-
ment. " It frightens me to hear zeal condemned,"
she said ; " these are not days when it is too

*• It is not the virtue, but the manner of exercis-
ing it, which we must guard against," replied Mr.
Dacre. " I have often found it advisable, when my
heart has been very much set on any object, to en-
deavour to view it in the same light in which it
would be regarded by men of the world; and I
hope, by that means, I may have avoided giving
unnecessary offence."

" And what do you think a man of the world
would say to my project?" inquired Gertrude.

" The first question he would be likely to ask,"
replied Mr. Dacre, " would be as to any other claims
upon your fortune ; but this you tell me has been
already considered."

" I think so," said Gertrude: " there are no
family claims certainly."

Mr. Dacre hesitated a little before proceeding.
He was doubtful how far his suggestions might
be considered intrusive. " Perhaps," he said, " there
are no claims which are absolutely pressing, but is
it not as well to guard against any appearance of
injustice? I mean, that when you are calculating
how much you may expend, you should take into
consideration, that other persons may have naturally
and fairly looked forward to some increase of their


own comforts when you came into possession of
your property."

" I understand you now," exclaimed Gertrude.
" I know that I cannot live at home upon the same
footing with my sisters, though we have all an equal
share in the family property. I ought to add some-
thing to it."

" Yes," he replied, " I think you should ; and
this might be first cared for. It will not prevent
your following out your own wishes afterwards, but
it will prevent any one from blaming you for doing
it. It will be avoiding the appearance of evil."

" And my sisters," said Gertrude. " I have
thought of them also. Edith agrees so entirely
with me, that she will not hear of my reserving any
portion for her; but I should be sorry for the others
to be disappointed."

" And most probably," observed Mr. Dacre, " the
very care you show for them will induce them to
enter more fully into your plans, and be anxious to
share them. It is a great thing to put it into a
person's power to act rightly."

" One so longs to do every thing," said Gertrude;
" but I suppose in all these cases there must be
some self-denial."

" Yes, and where there is not, any virtue must
be doubtful : generosity, for instance — which is a
mere luxury, unless it is founded upon the restric-
tion of personal indulgence."

"And justice," added Gertrude, smiling, "which
you have been so carefully inculcating upon me."

" Not because I thought you had quite forgotten
it, but because it is a grave, shy virtue, very fond
of keeping in the back-ground — hidden like the
stars by the sunlight of generosity — though with-
out it the most munificent actions may be, and
generally are, condemned, and by none more than



by keen-siglited, cold-hearted men of tlie Tvorld ;
and so we return to the point from which we set
out, — that it is well to look at our actions in the
way in which they look at them, that we may not
give unnecessary offence, and repel instead of attract

" I am afraid," said Gertrude, " these necessary
provisions will principally interfere with the endow-
ment. The church need not be large for such a
small district, and I could manage it without the
least difficulty. What I should have wished cer-
tainly would have been to have done all that might
be required — school-rooms, and things of that kind;
but I suppose it would be better not to attempt too
much, — the endowment is of so much more im-

" Yes," said Mr. Dacre : "once provide a good
clergyman, and as far as human calculation goes,
you need have no fear of the result being what you

" It will be but a small income," replied Gertrude ;
" five thousand pounds, or even six or seven, will
not go very far in these days."

" If it is all that it is allowed you to give, there
can be no cause for regret. The blessing rests not
npon the little or the much, but upon the spirit in
which it is offered."

Gertrude sighed. " And that," she said, after a
short silence, " we forget. Things become so low
and earthly when we descend to details."

" Yes," replied Mr. Dacre : " they are the body
of dust in which the spirit is enshrined; and I fear
you are scarcely aware of the trouble and even pain
you are bringing upon yourself by engaging in
them. But it is a great victory when we have
learnt to infuse a holy principle into the minutest
concerns of life — money matters especially."


" Edward must be spoken to," said Gertrude,
" and mamma and my sisters ; but I wish there was
no occasion for it."

" Your brother of course has the first claim to
be consulted. I should be glad to spare you the
effort of mentioning it, but it is impossible."

" It will be the hardest task of all," said Gertrude.
" And I seem to know so little of him. I shall be
sadly afraid of jarring upon him."

Mr. Dacre smiled, but it was not cheerfully.
" You must jar upon him," he replied ; " for many
reasons you must. Principally, because the duty is
one which was once his own ; and scarcely any
person can bear to see another fulfil his office. And

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