Page images
[ocr errors]

“Yes, Warner Stewart, or rather Stewart Ed heard nothing from my old home for many gerton, as he is now called. I suppose you have years." not heard of the large fortune he has fallen And I did tell him of her matured womanly heir to?"

beauty; of her many virtues; and of the quiet, "No," I replied, “I have heard nothing of him happy life she led, and with more than woman's for a long time. About two years ago I saw the tact I expatiated upon the number of her suitors, notice of his marriage in an old English pa and gave as a probable fact the rumor that had per."

reached me, that she had at last consented to “And about that time you might also have make one of them happy. Stewart listened with seen the notice of his wife's death. It is a hack- averted face, then said with energy, neyed phrase to use, 'that she was too good for “ Harry! aside from the one great purpose of this world,' but if ever it applied to one of mor my life, the next desire of my heart is to stand tal birth, it did to sweet Emily Stafford. My before Marion Grant as the minister of God. uncle and his family resided for some years in Promise me, when you return, to say nothing of India, and they returned to England principally having met me, or of my change of views. In on account of Emily's health, which had begun two years at the furthest I shall be ordained, and to fail even before her marriage. She lived just then I intend to revisit my old home.” long enough after their return to press a kiss I promised, and we parted. You will not care upon the brow of a little daughter, and they be to hear of my journey homeward, nor of the gan life together, but for Emily it was life ever warm hearts that met me there; so I will pass lasting.

quickly over the next two years. I had received But you

have not told me how Warner came letter from Warner, telling me of his arrival in possession of his fortune," said I, as my friend in New York; and now once more we are in the paused.

sitting-room at Elmwood. As I entered Mrs. True, but I was about to do so. Col. Edger- Howard, looking up from her work, said, ton was an old friend of my uncle's, an old bach “Harry, do tell me if you heard the Rev. Stewelor, with more money than health or good tem art Edgerton preach while you were in Engper; and if I may say that he loved any thing land ?" but himself, it was Emily and Stewart. I always “I inwardly thanked my good fortune that the felt that he planned the match, but which, fortu- question was so framed; and upon replying in nately for the parties most interested, was pro- the negative, Mrs. Howard continued, ductive of more happiness than made-matches “Dr. Morton was here to-day and told me the usually are. The old Colonel left all his prop- Rev. Mr. Edgerton, an English clergyman, was erty, including a fine estate in an adjoining coun to preach for him to-morrow.

I thought perty, to Stewart, with the condition that he should haps you might have heard him while you were assume his name, and, by residing on the place, abroad.” perpetuate the family honors.

The strangest

The morrow came, and I walked beside Marion part of the story is, that Stewart, in spite of his to church with a beating heart. As we entered immense wealth, is studying for the ministry, the new clergyman was kneeling at the desk; he with the intention of himself occupying the liv- rose, and his full, rich voice broke the stillness, ing which is in his .gift.”

with the words, "You do, indeed, amaze me," said I, as he fin "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ished his recital. “When I knew him, although ourselves and the truth is not in us. a noble fellow in other respects, he was thorough I stole one glance at Marion. Her full, dark ly infidel in his religious views."

eyes were fixed fully upon him; the color came "So I have heard," replied my friend, "but I and went rapidly in her cheek; and one hand can only give you the fact; the reason why, you was pressed upon her heart, as if to still its beating. can ask him yourself; for we expect him here We kneeled; she did the sa me, mechanically, to-morrow with his little child and nurse. The and all through the service those full eyes never latter are to remain for some time under my turned from the object of their gaze. The

openmother's care."

ing sentence was chosen for the text, and the The morrow came, and Stewart's emotions speaker, with the eloquence of a cultivated mind, equaled my own at the unexpected meeting. It and with all the fervor of a practical Christian, was not, however, till we were alone strolling portrayed the deceitfulness of the human heart, about the grounds after dinner, that Marion's its disinclination to humble itself before God, its name was mentioned; and then Stewart said, ab- arrogance in overlooking his revealed will, and ruptly,

then humbly alluded to himself as once having “ Tell me about your cousin, Harry; I have / wandered in the mazes of unbelief; but now, by

[ocr errors]

God's grace, endeavoring to set before others the duty, he may fail to be equal to the responsibiliunsearchable riches of Christ. It was too mucb ties of existence, and, thus failing, forfeit every for the poor heart by my side; the conviction of thing sacred to his interests in time and eternity. his identity had been slowly forcing itself upon

We have only to look around us to see how many her, and now the joy was too great, and for the splendid moral wrecks there are in the world, to first time in her life Marion fainted. Warner be profoundly impressed with the conviction that did not attempt to see her till the following day, where so many have failed in moral action to and then he poured into her delighted ear the measure up to their high capabilities for doing history of his life.

noble things for God and humanity, we should " To you, under God, dear Marion, do I owe be, as moral agents, appreciatively and solemnly the first serious impressions I ever received; alive to duty in what we do in the world. these deepened at the death-bed of Col. Edger- The single consideration that the impress of ton, whose last words were, 'What hath it profited | eternity is upon every moral action, should make me that I have gained riches and lost my own us profoundly and constantly concerned about soul?' How great the contrast between that and acting right in all we do. Although necessity of my wife's dying bed! Hers was the triumphant action is ever upon us, yet we need never act death of the righteous; and then and there I other than right; and, because we need never vowed to dedicate myself to God's service, and act other than right, it becomes us to see that in my English home endeavor to benefit the peo- we make our true impression on the moral his. ple whom my old friend had left in my care. And tory of the world in which we live. As our now, dearest, may I not confess how my heart "works do follow us," and are, therefore, an everclung to the hope, that she who once vowed to living, potential moral force in the world, it is a 'walk the path of life alone, rather than with matter of vast importance to us that our works one who knew not God,' might now consent to be such as are worthy of an immortality beneath tread the path with me, to be my earthly guiding the skies! star? will


If moral actions are imperishable—and that What her answer was you may learn by stand- they are revelation and reason both affirm—tben ing with us again in the little village church, is it, indeed, a sad thing for many of the world's where the morning sun peeped in upon two happy actors that they have acted in such obliviousness couples bound together by those vows which only of this fact. Having said and done so much death can sever- -Warner and Marion, the bright that is wrong, and the result of their moral aceyes I once almost told you about and myself; tions having passed into the current and imperand in a few days our happy little party were ishable history of the world, terrible indeed are merrily bounding over the deep blue sea to visit the retributions which attend on the same in the Warner's English home.

world to come. “By thy words shalt thou be condemned," is a declaration of unutterable so

lemnity, as revealing the moral basis upon which IMPERISHABILITY OF HUMAN ACTIONS.

all such characters shall ultimately lose heaven and secure eternal death. “They that have done

evil"--doing evil the only cause of final ruin" The actions done

alone are destined to the fate of perdition! CerIn time, the deeds of reasonable men;

tainly a dark and starless future is before all As if engraven with pen of iron grain

such as are oblivious of the far-reaching and alAnd laid in finty rock, they stand unchanged, most illimitable results of wrong moral action in Writ on the varied pages of the past:

the world. If good, in rosy characters of love;

The fact, then, that human actions are as imIf bad, in letters of vindictive fire."

perishable as the soul itself, and that they have CTION is a necessity imposed upon man by not only an undying history in heaven, but a tre

the very conditions of his nature; for to mendous history of consequences upon the desthat end he was born. But, though act he must, tinies of the race, furnishes the weightiest conyet it is a deeply-solemn thing for him to act. ceivable argument why we should ponder well This deep and grave solemnity grows out of the the path of our feet, and seek to know with absofact that he may not act right. Furnished with | lute certainty that we are acting in full view of both the subjective and objective capabilities for the great moral interests to be affected by our proper moral action in the world as he is, and action. If what we do is constantly reproducing thus qualified to solve the problem of a high des- itself in the lives and characters of others, we tiny in the present life and in the life to come, have in this inevitable fact the highest incentive yet, by default of proper action in the sphere of placed before us, not simply to do no harm to our



fellows, but to make our actions a vast and telling' tality of the skies! His work done, and his power for good to them. This was the great idea mark made upon the world, he may joyfully reof the Savior when he uttered those sublime sign the life of earth for the crown of eternity, words, “Let your light so shine before men, that happy in the consciousness that the moral man

gieeiui suuuu. they may see your good works and glorify your

Minnehaha!-to the echoesFather which is in heaven.” According to this

Minnehaha! back the same men were to "SEE”—what by consent of reason

Minnehaha! Minnehaha! could only result from the operation of a divine

Keep forever thy sweet name.” principle upon the human heart-"GOOD WORKS;" Here, as elsewhere, "the mighty mingles with and thus witnessing this crowning evidence of the mean." Within a few rods of the fall is a the divinity and moral excellenoy of religion, the board shanty, where, by a vile play upon words, effect of the same might prove their salvation. "laughing-water" is advertised for sale at a few Christianity needs no higher proof of its cents per drink. This is a desecration, but Minhuman nature than that which is developed in nehaha, beautiful as the Undine of fairy starp the character and moral action of its genuine kingdom of our heavenly Father, are still speaksubjects; for not more certainly has creative en-ing in trumpet-toned utterances to a dying world. ergy made the stars the diadem of night, than Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, whose labor did so has divine power originated those good works much to bless humanity while our earth was the which beautify and gem the life of piety! To theater of their mighty deeds, are yet living in behold God's majesty written upon the one is to the moral history of the world. Peter, James, see his glory reflected in the other!

and Paul, though long since passed into the The influence of right moral action upon hu- skies, are yet lending, by the silent power of their manity is seen from this circumstance to be im- lives and labors, giant influences toward the mense and incalculable. If "one sinner de world's redemption. The early confessors and stroyeth much good;" if the life of one man in martyrs of Christianity, whose spirits towered up its bearings upon the moral welfare of the race from the block, or flames, or cross, to the skies, evolves a train of such mischievous results, the can never die. Luther, Wesley, and Whitefield, converse of this truth is certainly one of vast en not to mention scores of the honored names of couragement to the good man. Such a charac- the Church, are still impersonated in their mighty ter should gather a mighty inspiration from the toils and activities to redeem a world of sinners fact that he has the God-given power to brighten lost. Living for their own times, they lived for the diadems of eternity, and add to the popula- all futurity of time! tion and triumphs of the skies! Surely there is Glorioas, indeed, is the thought of living on motive enough in this thought to kindle the zeal earth-living, too, to hurry it up to the period of and intensify the energy of an archangel, if his its millennial history and glory—after we have activities could have any possible relation to such entered upon the rest of heaven. If orators a result, as every good man on earth may aspire have spoken, philosophers have written, poets to. The worth of one true man to the world is have sung, and warriors have bled for the a question which no arithmetic of earth can an distinctions and fame of earth, how infinitely

He may “save a soul from death," and to more sublime are the motives which underlie the determine the result of such a triumph of his actions of the child of God! His is an ambition moral power in such a case, would be to ascer whose highest aim is to help to lay a redeemed tain the resources of heaven on the one hand to world at the feet of the Lord of lords and King make a soul happy, and the capabilities of per- of kings! Well may he toil on in the cause of dition to make a soul miserable on the other religion and virtue, since no effort he has ever Both of these great items—the possibilities of put forth, and no good act he has ever done, can happiness or misery to a human spirit in eter fail to be potent for good while the sun and moon nity—belong to this question concerning the re endure. The names of kings and nobles, philossults of human action! Thus it is evident that ophers and scholars, orators and warriors will the worth of one true man to the world is incal- yet perish, together with the monuments reared culable, since it is his mission instrumentally to in the vain hope of making them immortal; but save souls from death by means of his moral the deeds of the Christian will live in their power power.

to do good down to the last vibration of the clock While none but the good can rejoice in the of time! fact of the imperishability of human actions, yet Living for the future as well as the present, to the child of heaven this thought is one of glo- pious reader, let us see to it that we live right. rious sublimity; it is the pledge of his immortal- If, in the finished history of our earthly lives, we ity on earth, after he has ascended to the immor- I would not have cven a line, which, dying, we


[ocr errors]


would wish to blot," let our action on life's great surrounding all, a framework of living green; battle-field, and our record upon the moral his- for the foliage is dense, and our first glimpse of tory of the world, be such as we could wish to be the fall is through a net-work of leaves. Perimperishable!

haps you may not think of a diamond flashing her, and now the joy was too great, and for the light from an emerald clasp, or a cameo, cut first time in her life Marion fainted. Warner

from sky and rock, and falling water, that while did not attempt to see her till the following day, falling still seems immovable; yet at first glance and then he poured into her delighted ear the you experience a singular illusion. As seen from history of his life.

beneath, there is but a small portion of sky visi"To you, under God, dear Marion, do I owe

ble, and against this fragment of blue the crest the first serious impressions I ever received; of the fall seems projected, as though, laying these deepened at the death-bed of Col. Edger- perspective aside as a useless and troublesome adton, whose last words were, 'What hath it profited junct, the waters were falling from some summe that I have gained riches and lost my own

mer-cloud, that is hanging over to accommodate

the fancy of the observer. The precipice is A DAY AT MINNEHAHA.

draped with verdure kept green by the ascending

spray. Long grass, such as you have seen swept reweú;

along by an overflowing meadow-stream, fringes A

DAY at Minnehaha! Can I share the pleas- the channel, as if to smooth a passage for the de

ure with hly reader? It is not a long jour-scending floods. The precipice, below the verge, ney; it is only a few hundred miles at farthest. is in shadow, and arches over, leaving a space You need not wait for the lazy steamboat, or wide enough for a foot-path between it and the creeping rail-car, but in that other vehicle that fall. no Fulton or Fitch ever invented, compared with It is not a sublime thought, and yet it has been whose speed

suggested with some truthfulness, that the form

of the fall is much the same as that produced by “The tempest itself lags behind, And the swift-winged arrows of light,"

pouring water from a bowl into a basin. To

make the resemblance complete, the edge of the you may traverse the intervening space till you bowl should be fringed with the most delicate and arrive

graceful verdure; mosses should deck the marAt the region of the west wind,

gin, and wild flowers sparkle among them. And Of the north-west wind, Rewaydin." the basin below should have a border of pebbles You are now in “the land of the Dacotahs." for the tiny waves to beat against. This would The wilderness, however, has filed away. The be a miniature Minnehaha. But Minnehaha itlandscape is dotted with farms, and the green self is a miniature—one of those small, perfect and quiet valleys are sold by the acre.

How works of Nature which charm us all the more prosaic! the pleasant nooks, the groves, the pic- because they are not grand and overpowering, turesque rocks belong henceforth to Smith, or but simply beautiful. Jones, or Brown, and no more may the lover of Such is Minnehaha-a pure, smooth sheet of nature, whether he be poet, or plumed Dacotah, water, that seems to carry with it, as it pours over find an unappropriated spot. Even in apparent the rock in a graceful curve, part of the greensolitude, the traveler may discover, half-hidden ness of the trees and blueness of the sky, among ferns and grasses, the stakes marking the What wonder is it that this simple, unassuming limits of a future city.

waterfall should become a Mecca to the lovers But these we do not seek. We have come to of the beautiful in naturel Hither comes the look upon the unvailed face of Laughing-Water, teacher, escaped from the school-room; bither to sit for a summer's day at the feet of Minne- comes the man of business to glance, for a haha.

moment, at the bright vision; hither come poet, How musical the sound of the falling waters! and artist, and traveler, and the rest of mankind, It is not a deafening roar, like that of Niagara; to see "how comes the water down at Lodore." it is rather suggestive of the muffled hum of far- Is there such a thing as solitude at Minnehaha ? off human voices, or the murmur of bees. It | We have happened here on a gala-day. There is iulls the soul into a sweet and drowsy calm, in a perpetual throng of visitors. They crown the which the every-day world with its cares is quite rocks above; they thread the vale below; they forgotten.

pass under the fall; they are astonished, delightThe picture before you is one of rare beauty. ed. An individual of a poetic turn of mind is There is a bit of blue sky, a pearl-hued sheet of sitting on the trunk of a reclining tree, and water flowing smoothly over a precipice, and, seems to be reading in a copy of Hiawatha. He

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

is perhaps following the fortunes of the gentle

In the language she has made.
Indian maiden, as she went with Hiawatha

Minnehaha-how it gushes

Like a flow of laughter out!
“Through the woodland and the meadow,

Minnehaha-how it rushes
Left the old man standing lonely

Downward with a gleeful shout!
At the doorway of his wigwam,

Minnehaha!-to the echoes-
Heard the falls of Minnehaha

Minnehaha! back the same
Calling to them from the distance,

Minnehaha! Minnehaha!
Crying to them from afar off,

Keep forever thy sweet name."
• Fare thee well, O Minnehaha!'"

Here, as elsewhere, "the mighty mingles with
An artist, with the usual eccentricities of beard the mean. Within a few rods of the fall is a
and costume, is clambering over the rocks, fol- board shanty, where, by a vile play upon words,
lowed closely by a crowd of boys. Lastly comes “laughing-water” is advertised for sale at a few
a brass band in gay red uniforms. They rush cents per drink. This is a desecration, but Min-
down the narrow path and plant themselves on a nehaha, beautiful as the Undine of fairy story,
rustic bridge a few rods below the fall. They girded with rainbows and fringed with diamonds,
place their brazen instruments to their lips, but is sublimely indifferent, and still the music of the
only give utterance to two or three discordant fall goes on as when, in ages past,
notes, and then, as if abashed at their impu-

By the doorway of his wigwam
dence, retire, and the mightier music of the fall-

Sat the ancient arrow-maker,
ing flood goes on without a discord.

Making arrow-heads of jasper,
But what new desecration is this? The boys,

Arrow-heads of chalcedony."
wearied of following the artist, have diversified Beautiful Minnehaha! I saw her once with a
the entertainment by crowding a dog over the rainbow about her head, and the mist and spray
fall. You may see the poor brute pawing the folded about her like silken robes: never was
descending waters, a new “Canis Major,” the queen more royally arrayed. She seemed at
very image of the old constellation in the celes once an emblem of beauty and purity. It was
tial map. Luckily a fall of fifty feet does not

no longer strange that lovers should join hands
prove fatal. Minnehaha deals gently with the in her presence while the voice of the minister
persecuted animal, which crawls out of the rapid proclaimed-his voice blending with the music
waters looking woeful enough, but unharmed. of the falling flood—“What God hath joined, let

Minnehaha has a melodious name. It would not man put asunder.”
be just as beautiful with a homelier appellation, Not long since an eminent Chicago divine vis-
but the poetic interest which the word puts in ited the fall and returned to his busy, bustling,
such a place could not be so well expressed. I money-loving city, and preached a sermon with
remember a beautiful water-fall in central Indi "Minnehaha" for a text. Others than be have
ana that is literally consigned to oblivion by a found "sermons in stones, books in the running
prosy and meaningless name. It is not the equal brooks," and could it be amiss in him to turn
of Minnehaha, for it lacks its exquisite propor one Sabbath from angular controversial topics
tions, but it still presonts a pleasing picture, and to the rejoicing waters for a theme? There are
seen, as it was once my good fortune to see it, sermons in Minnehaha, not dry, soporific dis-
when its yellow rocks were crowned with sear courses, whose chief merit lies in the fact of
and yellow leaves, and its ascending mists seemed their having a conclusion, but sermons full of
to melt into the haze of an Indian summer day, poetry, of pathos, and of power, that reach the
it can not be forgotten; but what charm can re heart of him
lieve it from the odium of a commonplace name? “Who looks through naturo up to nature's God."
It will utter mournful music to the rocks and

We can not longer listen to the voice of this
hills, as if complaining of the neglect of man, western Undine; we grow weary of watching the
while Minnehaha will sing like a prima donna to scattering pearls and rising spray. The rain-
listening thousands.

bows have faded, the diamond necklace worn by Coates Kinney speaks musically and truthfully the peerless beauty is lusterless, the sun has gone on this subject of names:

down and left us alone among the gathering “Call not cataract a rapid

shadows. The voice of the falling waters is still That has leaped its way from heaven, the same, and greets the ear like low, musical By his own name, curt and vapid,

laughter, or an audible smile. Excuse the figThat some Saxon boor hath given;

ure. I have for it the high authority of Mrs.
But let Nature keep her titles;

Browning, who says, speaking of angels,
Let her name the quick cascade

“I ween their blessed smile is heard;"

« PreviousContinue »