Obrázky stránek

greatly encouraged and aided them.--He was one of those men who are strongly affected by home influences. But we must look still further back to find the first promptings to this noble enterprise they were given at his mother's knee.

Sir Fowell entered Parliament in 1818, and in 1823 he made his first memorable motion on the subject of Slavery. He laboured unceasingly for ten years, at which period it was taken up by government. A glorious triumph awaited him on August 1st, 1834. On that day he wrote exultingly, “ There is not a slave in the British Colonies." On that day, too, his eldest daughter (Priscilla) was married. His strong feelings on the subject may be seen from the following little incident.

One morning, in the next month, he received letters which, from the Colonial post-mark, he knew would contain intelligence respecting the events of the above memorable day; but instead of opening them, he took them up sealed as they were, and went out into a wood, that he might be alone. His heart beat between hope and fear, and he wished that no eye should witness his emotion. He opened the papers with a feeling of deep seriousness, but on reading them, burst out into ejaculations of praise to God. Sir Fowell Buxton did not live to the full


of man, (he died in Feb. 1845, in his fifty-ninth year), though if life were measured by usefulness, his might be said to have been a long one. A monument has been raised to his memory in Westminster Abbey; but bis philanthropic labours are his best and most imperishable memorial.




This sketch is gathered from Mary Howitt's interesting “ Memoir of Elihu Burritt, published in “ The People's Journal," October 31, 1846.

Mrs. Burritt was the mother of a family of ten children, whom she and her husband brought up in credit and respectability upon very slender means. Elihu was the youngest of five sons. The father, whose name was also Elihu, was a shoemaker, and he (as well as all who bear the name of Burritt in America) was descended from one William Burritt, who died at Stratford, in Connecticut, in the year 1651. The family were residing in New Britain, Connecticut, at the time the great Peace Advocate was born. (December 8th, 1811).

Mr. Burritt was an industrious hard-working man; his son describes him as being of temperament, quick apprehension, and vivid sympathies." His wife was every way worthy of him -she co-operated with him in every good work, and possessed withal " an unruffled placidity of manner, which was truly beautiful.”

These good people, as may be supposed, had many troubles and difficulties to contend with in rearing so large a family ; but their narrow means did not, in their estimation, exempt them from the duty of helping others. Mrs. Howitt gives a most



interesting and instructive picture of their home. She says,—“ His (Mr. Burritt's) house, which was a very small one, and very full of its own inmates, yet afforded a sheltering roof for more pour benighted travellers than any other house in the town. It stood near the church, too, and in cold wintry weather received all such poor old men and women during the interval of the morning and afternoon service, as had no other refuge than the frosty walls of the church. Amongst the earliest recollections of Elibu Burritt's childhood, is the arrang. ing all the chairs and stools in the house, in a semi-circle around the fire, and the benevolent expression of countenance with which his father used to conduct to the best seat in this social circle, an old idiotic pauper, known by the name of ' Aunt Sarah.' No respect of persons was shown here, excepting in so far as they were pre-eminently poor and friendless. It must not be supposed, however, that · Aunt Sarah' stood in this relationship to the family. The Burritts had multitudes of Aunts and Uncles; but the connexion came alone from consanguinity of affliction. If any one in the town met with a misfortune, lost a limb, or became halt, or blind, or dumb, he or she became to this good family an Uncle or an Aunt.

These benevolent feelings evidently took their rise in something better than mere human sympathies ; they were the fruits of genuine piety, arising from a desire to fulfil our Saviour's golden rule, " Do unto others as ye would they should do unto you.” They brought up their children with a deep reverence for all that is sacred. “Those of them who died, as well as those who are living, testified to the influence of their mother's prayers and to 6 She was,"

the teaching of her godly life. says her son Elihu, “the best friend her children had on this side of Jesus Christ." The good woman appears to have been mistaken with regard to the early religious impressions of Elihu. The boy's love for marvellous and exciting narratives induced him to read the Bible with intense interest. She thought this a sure indication that its Divine truths had taken a deep root in his heart, and was often heard telling her neighbours, with maternal pride and pious joy, of this trait in her son's character-building on it a hope that he would one day become a useful and eminent Christian. In this hope she was not disappointed; but his head-knowledge of the Holy Scriptures was far from being either the source or the result of his piety; it had a deeper and holier spring. We again quote Mrs. Howitt's words.

- The Bible was the first book he read, after getting through the spelling-book, and he used to steal away with it under his arm, and devour its wonderful histories, and personal narratives. When the Bible was exhausted, a great vacuum rer

remained, which it would require a somewhat large library to fill. All the books in the village were contained in the parish library, and from this only once in two months could a subscriber obtain any book, and then he could only take two quartos, or four duodecimos. It was an event of the deepest interest to the poor lad, whose mind was fairly famishing for books, when he first accompanied his mother to one of those important meetings. With a breathless feeling of impatience he saw the librarian open a kind of cupboard in the church, and then reveal to his eyes about two hundred volumes. There was no great choice amongst them. They


consisted of history and sermons; but he had had an earnest conference with his mother in the church porch, and they had come to a compromise with regard to the books to be selected for the next two months, with which he could not be greatly dissatisfied. He was to select one half according to his own particular taste, for his own particular reading, and she the remainder. It is needless to say that his choice fell upon books of history, while his mother devoted herself to sermons and homilies.Two little duodecimo volumes were however but scanty fare for his hungry mind, and in spite of the most rigid frugality of reading, never lasted him beyond the first month of the stipulated time, so that, to use his own phrase, for the last month he was in a state of intellectual famine. The last week of this month, and the week before the next drawing of the books, was one of great excitement, and most earnest used his endeavours to be to persuade his mother that with so good a minister as they had, one small volume of sermons might suffice for her spiritual necessities, and sometimes, but not often, be induced her to be of his opinion.'

Elihu being the youngest of the sons, remained at home with his parents after his brothers had gone out into life, and it was his happiness to contribute to their comfort and support in many ways. He looks back to that period, he says, with great pleasure, and this we think every dutiful and affectionate child must do; for there is nothing on earth which can give more solid satisfaction in riper years, than the thought that we have, in some degree, repaid the cares, toils, and self-denying affection of parental love. At the age of sixteen, Elihu had

[ocr errors]
« PředchozíPokračovat »