« PreviousContinue »
A Day among the Walloons.
'Now,' said the Pastor, it is curious that during all these years they have preserved their distinctive character. Intermarriages have connected the operatives together as they have the masters, so that their interests are reciprocal, and the members of this family are so consistent, sweet-spirited and benevolent, that they have won even the goodwill of their enemies, for the Catholics themselves cannot help liking them. They have their worship in a large room, the young ladies conduct the musical part, and one of the sons-in-law is the Evangelist, who reads, preaches and expounds the Scriptures.'
Thoroughly prepossessed and full of curiosity, we left Brussels next day by train. It was a beautiful morning, and on the level plains the floods of sunshine were relieved by the shadows of the dark, cool forests.
We were met at Sulitze by a beautiful girl of eighteen, habited in a light silk costume. She had a bright, fresh, rosebud beauty of complexion, and a refinement of feature that is by no means indigenous. This was Mademoiselle Lucille, the daughter of our host and hostess. A quarter-of-an-hour's walk over a sandy road brought us where the dingy iron-works furnished a curious contrast to the bright, clean-looking houses, and the fresh verdure of the trees between which the canal crept. The villa where we stopped was not unlike an English gentleman's country-house: lofty ceilings, enamelled floors, wainscotted rooms, exquisite cleanliness and abundant polish being the main characteristics. There were but few decorations, but what there were were artistic, so that the effect of the whole was open without being bald. The graceful untidiness of the French had given way to Belgian stiffness.
The admixture of an ingenuous simplicity of manners with a punctilious ceremoniousness was almost indescribable, and not easy for the uninitiated to reciprocrate. The matrons, in their good but quaint provincial dress, contrasted strongly with their elegant daughters, but as they were evidently much on household tasks intent,' that did not trouble them.
After an early dinner, we made a round of visits, which we must not too minutely describe. We wondered that we were able to make so many in so short a time. Madame and Mdlle. Lucille accompanied us. We did not resume our walking attire, but sauntered down the canal-side and into the village, without hats, gloves or scarves.
First, as in duty bound, we called upon the grandmamma, next upon the maiden aunt, then upon Madame-the cousin of Madameand Madame-youngest sister of Madame-and so on. The visits invariably terminated in the ladies on whom we had called accom
panying us to the next house. At last-Madame excused herself, and went home to see that the coffee was made ready, the original party returning to her with a train of eleven more!
Our observation of the Walloons was but superficial, yet it left a very pleasant impression. Ceremonious as they are, they have no stiff formality. Easy themselves, they set every one else at ease, and the softness of their manners might be imitated by their Belgian cousins with advantage. We are told that the refinement is not native, that the lower classes are as rough as the English navvy; but all classes of the Brabantois are noisy.
It is a matter of regret that our acquaintance with these interesting people was a thing of a day. We should like to have attended one of their services, and heard the songs of the Walloons sung by Walloon lips.
In thought we go back to secret gatherings in the forest, on which the stars looked down, whilst a lamp suspended from the boughs of a tree shed light on the inspired page which men and women dared not read openly, lest they should be haled to prison and thence to a fiery death; for the Regent Margaret had forbidden the Emperor's subjects in the Netherlands to read, speak, confer or preach concerning the Gospel or other holy writings, in Latin, Flemish or Walloon.
If there is truth in the idea with which bereaved humanity ofttimes consoles itself, that those who have entered within the veil love to hover over the places and scenes that most interested them while on earth, how many of the martyr throng may be supposed to mingle with the cloud of witnesses' that brood above the Netherlands! Slowly grew that glorious army. The work of persecution crept serpent-like at first. Its conspicuous victims were few; but the hour and power of the Prince of Darkness overspread like a thick darkness the country at last, and those of whom the world was not worthy' were sent to their better inheritance by hundreds, until not merely decimation, but entire depopulation threatened.
But in the earlier days, before that prince of God's own making, William the Silent, was converted to the light that is seen only by the single eye,' how beautiful was the testimony borne by many even youthful confessors.
When Robert Ogier and his family were under examination, one of the boys was questioned about their family-worship.
'We fall on our knees,' answered the child, and pray that God may enlighten our minds and pardon our sins; we pray for our sovereign, that his reign may be prosperous and his life happy; we pray for our magistrates, that God may preserve them.'
Some of the Catholic judges felt the stirrings of humanity so strongly that they wept as they listened to the child. Perhaps they were new to the work. Their tears, however, did not save either the father or the elder son from the flames. O God!' prayed the youth, as he was bound a living sacrifice on his altar of fagots, 'O God! Eternal Father! accept the sacrifice of our lives in the name of Thy beloved Son.'
"Thou liest, scoundrel,' fiercely interrupted the monkish executioner; 'God is not your Father, ye are the devil's children.'
The flames rose, but the boy's young voice rose above them :
'Look, my father, all heaven is opening, and I see ten hundred thousand angels rejoicing over us. Let us be glad, for we are dying for the truth.'
'Thou liest, thou liest,' again screamed the monk; 'I see hell opening, and ten thousand devils waiting to thrust you into eternal fire.' But the father and son continued to cheer each other with good words, till their chariot and horses of fire had borne them beyond the reach of insult or the cruelty of man.
One poor man, Galein de Mulère, a schoolmaster of Oudenarde, was tempted to temporize. He had a wife and five young children, so he asked to be tried by the magistrates and not by the Inquisition, through whose terrible gates Hope could never be said to enter.
The Inquisitor Tittemann was inexorable, the schoolmaster evasive. In the conflict, the emissary of Rome, once a Preacher of the Gospel, fell into his old habit of quoting Scripture: I adjure thee not to trifle with me; St. Peter commands us to be ready always to give to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us.'
These words broke for his victim the snare in which Satan was holding him My God, my God, assist me now according to Thy promise,' prayed de Mulère. Then to his persecutors: Ask me now what you please, I shall plainly answer.' His intrepidity from this moment was so great that it was in vain they urged him to recant. As a last appeal, they asked him if he did not love his wife and children. He replied that he loved them from his heart, but, God strengthening him by His grace, he would never for their sakes sin against his conscience.'
So, having proved himself worthy of Him Who loved His own' even unto the end,' he was led away to be strangled and then burned.
One of the most interesting of the Walloon Preachers in those days was Franciscus Junius; he was a Frenchman, and had been educated at Geneva, and his learning and extraordinary talents gave him great weight even with the nobility. In his youth he had known one dreary lapse into Infidelity, and from thence into Libertinism. While
reading Cicero's De Legibus, the words of the epicure, 'God cares for none of us,' came to him with a force against which his unaided reason was not proof. About a year afterwards, when he was at Lyons, a marvellous escape from death arrested him in his career of folly. He opened his long-neglected Bible, and his eye fell upon the grand announcement, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'
Before the majesty and splendour of the Gospel by St. John a hundred sophistries vanished into nothingness. My body trembled,' said he; my mind was astonished, and I was so affected all that day that I knew not where nor what I was. Thou wast mindful of me, O my God, according to the multitude of Thy mercies, and calledst home Thy lost sheep into the fold.' But this lost sheep' in after days led many wanderers back to the fold. Few braver men ever lived or suffered. Junius would preach in an upper room, while the lights of the flames from the stake, held by one of the party, -reflected on the faces of his audience.*
Of such mould were the spiritual fathers of the Protestants of the Netherlands.
BY THE REV. JOHN COLWELL.
'Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines.'-SOLOMON'S SONG II. 15. II.-FRETTING.
E begin with this fox because, though he is one of the smallest, he is, nevertheless, one of the ugliest and most
destructive. He looks very much as though he had walked backwards through a quickset hedge, for his hair is always brushed the wrong way. His eyes are suffused with a watery rheum which takes away all their brightness, and he manifests his presence by a continual whine. Woe be to the vineyard disturbed by his daily or nightly visits! That which he eats or destroys is as nothing to that which he sours and soils. His presence would spoil the glories of heaven, and make the angels themselves weary of their blest estate. Of all the unhappy ills with which man plagues himself-or allows the devil to plague him-fretfulness is one of the very worst. For although there are doubtless many evils that are more deadly in their influences, there are few that bring such an aggregate of evil to mankind. Let us then, by all means, keep this fox out of the vineyard.
For many of the incidents related in this Paper we are indebted to Wylie's History of Protestantism.
In order that we may do so, however, we must enquire for those gaps in the fence by which he enters.
The causes of fretfulness are manifold, a few only of which we have space to name.
Sometimes fretfulness arises from constitutional tendency or dis. position. It is as natural for some people to fret, as it is for some to have dark hair; whining is as much a part of some constitutions, as fulness of habit or spareness of flesh is of others. When that is the case, we must not be too hard upon the offender; nor must he be too hard upon himself. But, on the other hand, just as no man would continue to bear any mark of physical deformity it was possible to remove, neither ought he tamely to submit to a mental or moral defect because it—or the tendency to it-is natural. Rather let him show that true nobility of soul which will make all about him subservient to his higher will, and that Christian grace which makes loveliness and beauty grow even in an ungenial soil. No man would willingly submit to the control of kleptomania-which, we suppose, is a disease in some constitutions,-why, then, should he submit to the disease of fretfulness?
Sometimes fretfulness arises from physical indisposition, or illhealth.-Perhaps nothing produces so much fretfulness as this. Violent headaches, shattered nerves, overwrought brains, sadly interfere with serenity of disposition and sweetness of temper. A very dyspeptic and unhappy-looking man once called upon a London physician for advice. "O," said the doctor, "you only need a hearty laugh; go and see Grimaldi." "Alas," replied the miserable man, "I am Grimaldi"'! Such people merit our pity much more than they deserve our blame. And in such cases it is not always possible for religion alone to work a perfect or lasting remedy. If the cause is physical, so must be the cure. Fresh air, cold water, rest or change— with freedom from care-are the medicines most likely to give relief. Sometimes fretfulness is produced by unfortunate surroundings.How the poor of our large cities can avoid fretful uneasiness and Crowded together as querulousness of temper, it is not easy to see. they are, surrounded by unhealthy sanitary conditions, breathing a vitiated atmosphere, worried by sickly children, ground down by hard. poverty, and, above all, given up to the tender mercies of the publican and the gin-seller-is it to be wondered at that they sometimes turn away with fretful, even savage, impatience, from those who would fain lead them to a sweeter and purer life? Human beings cannot live like animals and act like gentlemen. But the cause and cure of such things would open up questions too large to be discussed here. Fretfulness is often induced by an overheated, or too powerful, imagin