Abbildungen der Seite

ping on the way to a meeting in behalf of foreign missions, the box was handed round, and in went his little roll of bills. He forgot his coat in his anxiety for the Sandwich Islanders.

Well do I remember the first time I heard him preach. It was seventeen years ago. From early childhood I had been taught to reverence the name of the great divine and orator, and I had long promised myself the pleasure of listening to him. My first Sunday morning in Cincinnati found me sitting with his congregation. The pastor was not as punctual as the flock. Several minutes had elapsed after the regular hour for beginning the service, when one of the doors opened, and I saw a hale looking old gentleman enter. As he pulled off his hat, half a dozen papers covered with notes of sermons fluttered down to the floor. The hat appeared to contain a good many more. Stooping down and picking them up deliberately, he came scuttling down, along the aisle, with a step 80 quick and resolute as rather to alarm certain prejudices I had on the score of clerical solemnity. Had I met him on a parade ground, I should have singled him out as some general in undress, spite of the decided stoop contracted in study; the iron-gray hair brushed stifly towards the back of the head; the keen, sagacious eyes, the firm, hard lines of the brow and wrinkled visage, and the passion and power latent about the mouth, with its long and scornful under-lip, bespoke a character more likely to attack than to defend, to do than to suffer. His manner did not change my first impression. The ceremonies preliminary to the sermon were dispatched in rather a summary way. A petition in the long prayer was expressed so pithily I have never forgotten it. I forget now what reprehensible intrigue our rulers were busy in at the time, but the doctor, after praying for the adoption of various useful measures, alluded to their conduct in the following terms: “And, O Lord! grant we may not despise our rulers; and grant that they may not act so, that we can't help it.” It may be doubted whether any English Bishop has ever uttered a similar

prayer for King and Parliament. To deliver his sermon, the preacher stood bolt upright, stiff as a musket. At first, he twitched off and replaced his spectacles a dozen times in as many minutes with a nervous motion, gesturing meanwhile with frequent pump handle strokes of his

[ocr errors]

right arm; but as he went on, his unaffected language began to glow with animation, his simple style became figurative and graphic, and flashes of irony lighted up the dark groundwork of his Puritanical reasoning. Smiles and tears chased each other over the faces of many in the audienco. His peroration was one of great beauty and power. I have heard him hundreds of times since, and he has never failed to justify his claim to the title of “ the old man eloquent.”

Harriet Beecher was born in Litchfield, about the year 1812. After the removal of the family to Boston, she enjoyed the best educational advantages of that city. With the view of preparing herself for the business of instruction, she acquired all the ordinary accomplishments of ladies, and much of the learning usually reserved for the stronger sex. At an early age she began to aid her eldest sister, Catharine, in the management of a flourishing female school, which had been built up by the latter. When their father went West, the sisters accompanied him, and opened a similar establishment in Cincinnati.

This city is situated on the northern bank of the Ohio. The range of hills which hugs the river for hundreds of miles above, here recedes from it in a semi-circle, broken by a valley and several ravines, leaving a basin several square miles in surface. This is the site of the busy manufacturing and commercial town which, in 1832, contained less than forty thousand inhabitants, and at present contains more than one hundred and twenty thousand - a rapid increase, which must be attributed, in a great measure, to the extensive trade it carries on with the slave States. The high hill, whose point, now crowned with an observatory, overhangs the city on the east, stretches away to the east and north in a long sweep of table-land. On this is situated Lane Seminary-Mrs. Stowe's home for eighteen long years. Near the Seminary buildings, and on the public road, are certain comfortable brick residences, situated in yards green with tufted grass, and half concealed from view by accacias, locusts, rose-bushes, and vines of honeysuckle and clematis. These were occupied by Dr. Beecher, and the Professors. There are other residences more pretending in appearance, occupied by bankers, merchants and men of fortune. The little village thus formed is called Walnut Hills, and is one of the prettiest in the environs of Cincinnati.

For several years after her removal to this place, Harriet Beecher continued to teach in connection with her sister. She did so until her marriage with the Rev. Calvin E. Stowe, Professor of Biblical Literature in the Seminary of which her father was President. This gentleman was already one of the most distinguished ecclesiastical savans in America. After graduating with honour at Bowdoin College, Maine, and taking his theological degree at Andover, he had been appointed Professor, at Darunouth College, New Hampshire, whence he had been called to Lane Seminary. Mrs. Stowe's married life has been of that equable and sober happiness so common in the families of Yankee clergymen. It has been blessed with a numerous offspring, of whom five are still living. Mrs. Stowe has known the fatigues of watching over the sick bed, and her heart has felt that grief which eclipses all others—that of a bereaved mother. Much of her time has been devoted to the education of her children, while the ordinary household cares have devolved on a friend or distant relative, who has

« ZurückWeiter »