Obrázky stránek


duce the Society to think that there was no longer a necessity for them to send out preachers. “Never mind, Thomas," said William, with his accustomed energy “the Society cannot do without printers, and I am sure Mr. Fuller will recommend us, and then we can preach too, if we like.” Thomas was appointed to take charge of a Free-school at Kingston, in Jamaica, and he set sail in October, 1822, full of hopes of usefulness, but in April, 1823, he passed to a better country after only three days illness. His death was a severe stroke to his family, but no sooner had William recovered from the first shock, than he decided on offering to fill his beloved brother's place, and the offer was accepted by the society. We must not follow William Knibb through the track of his useful labours as a Missionary and Abolitionist, but we cannot forbear giving a very brief account of the scene which his chapel at Falmouth, in the West Indies, presented on the memorable 1st of August, 1838, when the slaves received their freedom. Divine service was held in the chapel on the preceding evening, and the building was crowded with negroes. A large transparency was placed over the entrance with the word Freedom written upon it.

Some time was spent in devotional exercises, which were attended with great seriousness. A few minutes before twelve, William Knibb stood up, and pointing to the clock, said—“The hour is at hand—the monster is dying.'

All was still as death. The clock struck. “ The monster is dead—the negro is free" shouted the preacher, and, as the last words sounded on the ear, the multitude arose and uttered one long and loud burst of joy. “Never," said Mr. Knibb, “ did I hear such a sound—the winds

[ocr errors]

of freedom appeared to have been let loose—the very building shook at the strange, yet sacred joy."

William Knibb came over to England several times to further the cause so near to his heart.On one of these occasions, after a jubilee service held at Kettering, in Northamptonshire, his native town, the Rev. Mr. Stovel (in a funeral sermon preached for his friend) says, “ Knibb found me talking with friends; and placing his arm within mine, said, “Stovel, I want you to go with me to my mother's


you go?

With all my heart,' was the reply; and, with another friend, we walked together up the street, towards the churchyard. As we passed along, he stopped, suddenly, where the main roads cross in the town, and directed my attention to a window on a second floor, looking down the street to where we stood. * There,' said he, do you see that window with the muslin blind. I replied, Yes.' 'Well,' he said, “my mother lived there when I left her. We had parted, and I had come down into the street here, to go to Jamaica, to take charge of my brother's school, who was dead. She put her head out of the window, and called after me,

66 William, William! mind, William, I had rather hear that you had perished in the sea, than that you had dishonoured the society you go to serve.

I never forgot those words—they were written on my heart. We passed on, talking of the effects which such à sentiment had in fostering his courage and zeal, at different periods of his trial and labour. As we ascended the rising path which slopes down the side into the street, when drawing near the gate of the church-yard, he stopped and said, “How unchanged the things are! That stone stands at the side of the path, just as it did when I used to strike my marbles against it. See-they used to bound and roll down there. On entering the grave-yard, he became filled with awe, and walking up to his mother's grave, he stood as if in the act of worship, and after awhile, said, “There she lies. Seethere's her name. She died January 25, 1835. She was such a mother! I wish my children were here, Stovel, to sprinkle some flowers on her grave.' His expressions were calm, and at considerable intervals. My attention, continued Mr. Stovel, “ was fixed on him, and the thing which struck me most forcibly was the fact, that in minds which are suited to great and daring actions, the mainspring lies in those sensibilities of the heart, which are kindled and augmented by domestic piety."

[ocr errors]




The mother of Robert Nicoll, the poet, entered on her wedded life as the mistress of the small farm of Ordie-braes, situated at the foot of the Grampian Hills, and, as her son has beautifully remarked

" Nane ken how meikle peace an' love
In a straw-roof'd cot can bide."

Her second son Robert was born here, January 7th, 1814. They were, however, afterwards severely tried in their circumstances; and when the future poet was five years old, they were obliged to leave the farm, and his father was reduced to the condition of a day labourer. This reverse was owing to the elder Nicoll having become security for a relative to the amount of several hundred pounds.

“Nothing," says the son, in one of his letters, was left but the consciousness of unblemished and unblamed integrity. He was ruined out of house and hold. From that day to this, he has gained his own and his children's bread by the sweat of his brow. I was then too young to know the full extent of our misfortunes ; but, young as I was, I saw and felt a great change. My mother, in her early years, was an ardent book-woman. When she became poor, her time was too precious to admit of its being spent in reading, and I generally read to her while she was working, for she took care that her children should not want education.”

She likewise endeavoured to store their young minds with religious knowledge, by giving them daily lessons on the subject. This pious training, followed up, as it was, by her consistent example and cheerful submission to the Divine Will, doubtless gave her son's writings the high tone of moral beauty which distinguishes them.

The following extract from the “Ha' Bible” will, doubtless, interest those of our readers to whom it is not familiar :


“ God! unto thee I kneel,

And thank thee ! Thou unto my native land-
Yea, to the outspread Earth

Hast stretched in love, Thy Everlasting hand;
And Thou hast given Earth, and Sea, and Air-
Yea, all that heart can ask of Good, and Pure, and Fair!

And Father, thou hast spread,

Before men's eyes, this Charter of the Free,
That all Thy Book might read,

And Justice, Love, and Truth, and Liberty.
The Gift was unto Men--the Giver God!
Thou Slave ! it stamps thee Man-go spurn thy weary load!

« PředchozíPokračovat »