Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

"Almost six and twenty years ago,”

Mr. G. observes, “He who determines the bounds of our habitation saw good to appoint my lot among you. Since that time, many changes have taken place in several of your households. Husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters have been separated from each other by the stroke of death. And though I may have failed to afford you all the consolation I wished under such afflicting circumstances, yet I am persuaded that it is scarcely necessary for me to say, that I have not beheld your distresses as an unconcerned spectator. After many years of extraordinary comfort, it has pleased God to visit my own house with one of the sorest afflictions that can befal a family. You, in your turn, have not only witsessed, but shared my sorrow ; and I desire in this public manner to offer my sincere acknowledgments to every one of you for your sym

pathy, to many of you for their

Curist. Osserv. No. 118.

friendly regard, and to one” among you for his very liberal and unwearied attentions, on this melancholy occasion. God forbid that l should ever forget these instances of your kindness and goodness.” We bring this work before our readers, not with the intention of criticising it, but for the sole purpose of ministering to their improvement. In our eyes, sorrow, and especially a parent's sorrow, is too sacred to admit of our applying ordinary rules to the expressions which it prompts; nor should we envy the state of that man's mind, who, while a father's tears were flowing for the death of a beloved child, could employ himself in scrupulously weighing the import of the lanuage in which his grief found vent. be whole account is too long for insertion in our pages. What we propose to do, is to give an abstract of it, which, while it, we trust, will not prove uninteresting to our readers in general, may tend in a more especial manner to the edification of such family circles as are not already well acquainted with the work itself.

Joshua Rowley Gilpin was born on the 30th of January, 1788. It occurred to his father and mother, that they were introduced, by this event, to a new and inportant charge, to which was attached a new and solemn responsibility. They had observed, in many cases, the miserable eflects of indiscretion in the mauagement of families; and they feared, where so many failed, * W. Cludde, of Orleton, Esq. 4 K

lest they should not be preserved from miscarriage. They derived comfort under these impressions, from this hope alone, that He who had bestowed a child upon them would furnish them with wisdom and grace to discharge the duties attendant on their new relation. The season of infancy was a season of health to him, and of enjoyment to his parents scarcely interrupted by a momentary apprehension. He shewed, from the earliest age, a remarkable mildness and patience of temper; and as he grew up he continued to be much less subject to petulence or passion, and was accustomed to meet the little unavoidable vexations of the world with much greater calmness than is usual in persons of his age. At the age of three years and a half, his chief amusement consisted in sketching figures upon a slate ; and he soon discovered an extraordinary degree of skill in this employment, and often surprised us with the boldness of his designs and the accuracy of his execution. Many little works of this kind, the productions of his fifth year, his mother still preserves, as proofs of his early ingenuity. As he grew up, however, it was found necessary to draw him off from this alluring pursuit, lest so sedentary an employment should injure his health.About this time a dissected alphabet was placed before him, which did not fail to fix his attention. He was soon able to form orderly combinations of these characters, to which he was incited at first by a desire to furnish his drawings with titles. After a few months, he proceeded to compose short sentences, sometimes of a playful, sometimes of a devotional cast. Manv of these effusions afforded proofs both of a strong intellect and a tenacious memory, but especially of his having formed a happy acquaintance with divine things. Mr. Gilpin, having leisure for the employment, judged it an indispensable ". to take upon hijä. task of educating his son ; and he dwells with melancholy satisfaction

on the recollection of the many hours which he and Mrs. Gilpin passed in this delightsul employment. But even before this period Mr. Gilin had secretly devoted his son to §. holy profession—not, however, without a humble submission to the Divine Will. This he did, not from a desire of seeing him advanced to any lucrative or dignified station in the church, but in the hope that he might usefully occupy some humble lace in the sanctuary, where he might fill up his father's lack of setvice. “ He, however,” piously observes Mr. Gilpin, “who orders all things after the counsel of his own will, had other purposes concerning us. He graciously condescended, indeed, to accept my solemn offering; but instead of appointing my son to some laborious station in the church militant below, he suddenly removed him to the church triumphant above. What God hath done, it becomes me cordially to approve; but while I humbly resign myself to the Divine disposal, my resignation is mixed with the lamentations and tears of human weakness.” Young Gilpin was a most willing and attentive pupil; and was always inclined rather to exceed than to fall short of his appointed task. He complained of no difficulties. He considered the little labours of every day as a reasonable service, and readily, on all occasions, submitted his will to that of his parents. On the other hand, his parents were anxious that his innocent pleasures should be abridged as little as possible; and such were his aptness and assiduity that a small part of each dav sufficed to ensure a more than in. progress in his puerile studies. Mr. Gilpin takes occasion here to lament the ill-timed and harassing labours, and the cruel corrections, by which the sprighthest period of life is often embittered. In the case of his son, these were avoided: no instrument of chastisement was ever seen in his house; nor had he occasion to direct to him a single expression of displeasure.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

> form a happy diversity in the mode

J.5-filling up his time. Mr. Gilpin ives some instances of this. After ; son had become acquainted with the rudiments of the Latin language, he persuaded his nurse—a worthy young woman, to whom he was greatly attached, and who attended him from his cradle to his grave—to become his scholar. He left no means untried to engage her attention. He drew up for her use an epitome of his grammar: to this he added a short vocabulary : and he always had in his pocket slips of paper with some noun regularly declined, that he might be prepared for every opportunity that occurred, of improving his pupil. He afterwards pursued a similar plan in respect to Greek; and in his chamber, at night, he usually made her repeat the Lord's Praver in Greek. More was effected in this way than would readily be credited, although it was nothing more than a playful kind of labour. Another instance was this:—After having made some progress in his other studies, a treatise on arithmetic was laid before him. He eagerly took up the volume, and entered immediately on this new ground; and so delighted was he with it, that he used to turn to it whenever he felt himself at a loss for amusement. In the short space of three weeks, he became so expert an arithmetician, that he considered the extraction of the square or cube root as a mere pastime. During this period, and for several years after, Mr. Gilpin was not only the preceptor but the play-fellow of his son; and many a happy hour was passed in trundling hoops, flying kites, and other like exercises. At the same, time they exerted no small degree of skill in constructing little machines and toys, of which the son was the great contriver. Several monuments of their joint dexterity in this way are still preserved; but, adds Mr. Gilpin with all a parent’s tenderness, “his bow

lies unstrung; his printing-press is no longer employed; his telegraph stands still ; and his yeomanry troop is called out no more.” Young Gilpin went regularly through those books which are used in the best public schools; and whatever he had once read, he seemed never to forget: so that his father was in the habit of referring to him for passages which he wished to recollect; and he seldom failed thus to find the passage he needed, whether it were in poets, historians, or divines. His accuracy, both in reading and composing, was very remarkable. He would never pass over a sentence until he understood its meaning, nor lay aside an author before he had formed an acquaintance with his style and sentiments. Employment was the delight of his life. He had a soul athirst for knowledge. He had a pleasure in grappling with the little difficulties which met him in his course; and he would even modestly decline help in solving them. It was never advisable to stimulate, but rather to restrain, his application. His love of order was no less singular than his diligence,—a disposition which continued gradually to acquire strength. He contrived, by a happy arrangement, to fill up the day with an agreeable variety of labours and recreations. A more regular or pleasant life, perhaps never was witnessed: every period of it was marked by punctuality and composure, industry and ease, moderation and enjoyment. His understanding was clear and acute. He did not glide lightly over the surface of things. He delighted in those exercises of the mind which are usually considered as laborious, and in searching a subject to the bottom; and was much gratified by the prosecution of subtle and difficult investigations. His father, perceiving that from such materials a character of no ordinary worth might be formed, was daily employed in considering how he might best promote that object. His most anxious thoughts, however,

related less to the literary than to the religious part of his son's education. Though disposed highly to value scholastic acquisitions, he far preferred, before all the heights and depths of human learning, the fear of God and a humble sense of his favour. He was solicitous that his son should be qualified for his station in this world; but still more solicitous to train him up as a candidate for heaven. He had some difficulty at first in determining how, or when, to begin this better part of education. But now, from an accurate review of his experience, he does not hesitate to assert that the important work of religious instruction cannot be begun too soon, nor conducted with too much simplicity and condescension. Among the rules which he prescribed to himself, and from which he never saw reason to depart, were these: “Not to burthen his memory with long forms of prayer; not to depress his spirits by the exaction of rigorous observances; not to weary his attention by frequent and tedious discourses.” He began at the lowest round in the ladder of divine truth, and thence ascended to the sublimest truths of religion. “ From the works of creation we went on to the wonders - of providence; from the goodness of God, to the unworthiness of man; from the depravity of human nature, to the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; from this transient state of being, to that eternal world in which imperfection and infelicity shall have no place.” In this work his mother greatly assisted: she knew how to deal with his gentle spirit, and could clevate his thoughts to God by the most familiar representations; and she was on the watch for the most favourable opportunities of making serious impressions on his mind. And these joint labours of his parents were crowned with more than ordinary success. He seemed to exhibit in his own character the purity and devotion of Samuel, united with the retiredness and temperance of the Baptist,

and the docility and sweetness of Timothy. As his character unfolded itself, there began to grow upon his father an uneasy suspicion that he was not formed for any long continuance in this world; but he did not suffer himself to indulge the disheartening thought, but was enabled to make it the occasion of surrendering himself and his family anew into the hands of their common Father. In the mean time, goodness and mercy followed them, and each succeeding day was a day of tranquil enjoyment; but the Sabbath presented them with peculiar consolations. On that holy day, the return of which they hailed with undissembled joy, they laid aside all employments but such as tended to advance their preparation for the kingdom of God. Its various exercises had an exhilarating effect, as it enabled them more uninterruptedly to view the concerns of time in connection with those of eternity. They looked backward with gratitude, and forward with confidence; took sweet counsel together, for the advancement of their highest interests; and scarcely regarded themselves as inhabitants of this lower world. Some interesting passage of Scripture, or some select religious work, generally furnished the matter of their discourse; and in their endeavours to obtain clearer and more exalted views of the subject, their spirits were refreshed and their hopes animated. They have often contemplated the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, the place of their future enjoyment and final destination; and in the view of this goodly object have renewed their vows of devotedness to God, until they have found it possible to speak of probable sufferings, and painful separations, with the utmost com sure. Many a joyful Sabbath did they thus spend together, especially during the latter years of their son's life. And now, when, on the return of these sacred seasons, they are disposed to look with regret towards

his vacant place, they animate each other with the hope of shortly associating with him in the celebration of that etermal sabbath, of which they have enjoyed so many delightful anticipations. As his son grew up, Mr. Gilpin saw it expedient to make some alteration in his plans; for there appeared to be a growing delicacy in his constitution, the effect probably of his sedentary habits. He reasoned with him on the dangers of too close application, invited him abroad, and sought to engage him in amusements that would draw him into the open air. His inclinations, however, carried him, entirely to pursuits of a different nature, and he could find little or no satisfaction in the usual recreations of youth. It now occurred to Mr. Gilpin, that by mixing with boys of his own age he might be induced to take a part in those active exercises which conduce to health : but this advantage involved the painful condition of sendin him from home, and Mr. Gilpin could not resolve on surrendering him wholly into other hands, conceiving that the society of his parents would powerfully tend to promote both his improvement and happiness. With these views, he endeavoured to secure the double advantage of a public and private education; and he removed his family to Newport, a neighbouring market-town, where there was a good grammar school, and from which he might conveniently attend the duties of his church. Here young Gilpin was introduced to a new scene; and great was his astonishment to find among the boys so much idleness, irregularity, and ignorance, where he had looked for industry, order, and intelligence. In the head-master, the Rev. Mr. Scott, he found an attentive instructor and familiar friend; and Mr. Scott soon discovered his talents, and distinguished him with marks of his esteem.

The exercises of the school he

performed with so much ease, that they required an attendance of onl five hours in the day; the rest of his

time he spent with his parents. The evening hours were entirely their own, and were employed either in exercise abroad, or in social entertainments at home. “Happy,” observes Mr. Gilpin, “were those evenings in their passage; but they were rapid as they were happy, and granted only as short foretastes of more permanent enjoyments to come, which shall be measured neither by hours nor yet by ages.”

Soon after his removal to Newport, young Gilpin found among his father's books Ward's Guide to the Mathematics, and on this volume he set no small value. About the same time he obtained much information from Bonnycastle's Algebra. But of all the authors he ever met with, Euclid afforded him the highest delight. In the company of Euclid he would willingly have spent his days and nights; and never was youth more entertained with a fairy tale, than he in solving some of the most difficult problems of this author. Algebra and geometry were among his most favourite pursuits, and he acquired, even without the help of a master, a great proficiency in these sciences.

Though he had many seniors at school, he speedily rose to the highest seat in it. At the same time his affability and gentleness made him acceptable to all his school-fellows; but his habits and theirs were so different, that he could form no very intimate connection with any of them. During the vacations, which were long, Mr. Gilpin and his family returned to Wrockwardine; a place most agreeable to them all, but peculiarly endeared to his son, as the place of his nativity; where also he had spent the season of childhood. Every tree, and cottage, and hill in it were familiar to him, and were recognised by him on his return with delight. Beyond this retired village, the wishes neither of the son nor of his parents ever strayed. They looked to no worldly prospects beyond it, assured that no change could add to their happiness.

« AnteriorContinuar »