DIARY OF MRS. KITTY TREVYLYAN.
^ Stoxrt of tjj* Cunts of i&UntcfuIb anb iht S&UsIegs
EY THE AUTHOR OF “CHRONICLES OP THE SCIIONDERU-COTTA FAMILY.”
Great Onnond Street.
HEY were all so kind to me when I left Hackney, I felt very sorry to go, and should have grieved more, had not the leave-taking been like a halfway house on the journey to my dear home.
Uncle Henderson gave me a purse with five new guineas in it, saying some people lad found a fortune grow from no bigger beginning, and who knew but my guineas might erpand into a “plum 1” (a hundred thousand pounds). I do not very well see how, because I nave spent the whole over ten times in my mind already; but I know it will bring me in pleasures as rich to me as anything Uncle Henderson could ‘fcsire for me, if I can only tell which of the ten plans I have thought of is the best.
Aunt Henderson gave me a little book with a very long name, which she hoped would prove, at all events, more profitable reading than Bishop Taylor. Cousin Tom had relapsed into something (>f the shy, half-surly manner he had when first I came; and his great eyes were flashing, and his voice was very gruff. But just aa I was getting into the hackney coach, he said abruptly, “Cousin Kitty, forgive me if I spoke roughly to you; you have been very good to me; and some day perhaps I will hear Mr. Wesley.” Aunt Jeanie, to whom I paid a visit early in the morning, gave me nothing—at least nothing gold and silver can buy or pay for; but, like the apostles, such as she had she gave me abundantly. There were tears in her dear kind eyes, and she called me her poor lanibie, and fell very deep into Scotch, and pr.tyed
that the good Lord would keep me through all the perils of the wilderness; “for the world was a wilderness, no doubt, and temptation was strong. The Lord forgive her if it was like murmuring to say so, she had found so many pleasant places on her way; and all the way had been good to her; and every thorn needful; and the waste places as wholesome as the Elims; the water from the rock sweeter even than the fountains under the palms. And how can I dare be so ungrateful as to distrust my God for thee, my bairn?” she added. “If I am old and tough, and able to bear a prick now and then without shrinking, and thou art young and tcndei, and quick to feel, does not He who gathered the lambs in his bosom know that better than 1 V
So we cried together a little while, and then she knelt down with me for the first time by her bedside, and poured out her heart for me in tender, pleading words, that melted all my heart as ice melts in the spring sunshine and rain.
What she said I cannot remember. It was not like words. It was like a heart poured out into a heart—a child-like, dependent human heart into the great, infinite, tender heart of Cod. But when she rose and kissed me, and bade me farewell, all my heart, which had been so touched and melted, seemed to have grown strong and buoyant. It seemed as if every burden became light, and every task easy, and every grief illuminated in the light and heat of that prayer.
When I reached Great Ormond Street, the butler said my lady was still in her chamber, but had directed that I should be shown up to her at once. I thought this very affectionate of Aunt Beauchamp, and stepped very softly, as when Mother his a headache, expecting to enter a sickchamber.
But, to my surprise, Aunt Beauchamp was sitting at her toilette, in a wrapper more magnificent than Aunt Henderson’s Sunday silk And the chamber was much more magnificent than the best parlour at Hackney, with a carpet soft as velvet, and all kinds of china monsters, on gilded brackets, and rich damask chairs and cushions; not stiffly set up, like Aunt Henderson’s, as if it was the business of life to keep them in order, but thrown lavishly about, as if by accident, like the mere overflow of some fairy horn of plenty. Two very elaborately dressed gentlemen were sitting opposite her; what seemed to me a beautifully dressed lady was arranging her hair in countless small curls; while a shapeless white poodle was curled up in her lap; and a black page was standing in the background, feeding a chattering parrot.
It startled me very much; but Aunt Beauchamp, after surveying me rather critically as I made a profound courtesy, held out two fingers for me to kiss, and patting me on the cheek, said, “As rosy as ever, Kitty; the roses in your cheeks must make up for the russet in your gown.—A little country cousin of mine,” she said, introducing me in a kind of parenthetical way to the gentlemen in laced coats.
One of the gentlemen looked at me through an eye-glass, as if I had been a long way off, which made me indignant, and took away my shyness. The other, in a sky-blue coat, who seemed to me rather old, rose, and with an elaborate bow offered me a chair, and hoped it would be long before I withdrew the light of my presence again from the town. “The planets,” he observed, looking at Aunt Eeaucliamp, “naturally gathered around the sun.”
Aunt Beauchamp gave a little girlish laugh, tapped him lightly with her fan, called him a “mad fellow,” and bade me go and seek my Cousin Evelyn.
It seemed to me very strange to see these elderly people amusing themselves in this way, like old-fashioned children. Aunt Beauchamp is much older than Mother. I should think she
must be five-and-forty. And the old gentleman’s face looked so sharp and wrinkled under his flaxen wig. And I could not help noticing how close he kept his lips together when he smiled, as if he did not wish to show his teeth. He must be more than fifty.
I felt so sorry Aunt Beauchamp let her maid put those cherry-coloured ribands in her hair. They made her face look so much older and more lined. And it is a dear, kind old face, too. She looked almost like Father when she patted my cheek. Father says she was very beautiful when she was young. I suppose it must be sad to give up being beautiful. Yet it seems to nw every age has its own beauty. White hairs an; as beautiful at seventy as golden locks at twenty. It is only by trying to prolong the beauty of one stage into another that the beauty of both is lost
I hope I shall know when I am five-and-forty, and not go on forgetting I am growing old, while every one else sees it.
I am resolved that on all my birthdays I will say to myself, “Now, Kitty, remember you arc eighteen, nineteen, twenty.” And in that way I think old age cannot take me by surprise.
I found Cousin Evelyn in dishabille, not elaborate, but real, in her room, one hand holding a novel which she was reading, the other stroking the head of a great stag-hound which stood with his paws on her kuee, while her maid was smoothing out her beautiful long hair.
Her greeting was not very cordial; it was kind, but her large penetrating eyes kept investigating me as they had on our journey from Bath. Having finished her toilette and dismissed her maid, she said, “What made you stay so long at Hackney 1 Did you not find it very dull?”
It had never occurred to me whether it was dull or not, and I had to question myself before I could answer.
“You need not be afraid to tell me what you think,” she said. “Mamma thinks Aunt Henderson a self-satisfied Pharisee; and Aunt Henderson thinks us all publicans and sinners; so there is not much communication between the families. Besides, I suppose you know that the distance between America and England i3 nothing to that between the east and the west of London; so that, if we wished it ever so much, it would be impossible for us to meet often.”
“I am not afraid to tell you anything, Cousin Evelyn,” I said; “but I never thought very much if it was dulL It was of no use. I had to be there; and although, of course, it could not be like home, they were all very kind to me, especially Cousin Tom and Aunt Jeanic.”
“And now you liave to be here,” she replied; ° and I suppose you will not think whether it is doll or not, but still go on enduring your fate like a martyr.”
“I am not a martyr,” I said; “but you know it is impossible to feel anywhere quite as one does at home.” And I had some difficulty in keeping back the tears, her manner seemed to me so abrupt and unjust.
Then suddenly her tone changed. She rose, and seating herself on a footstool at my feet, took one of my hands in both of hers, and said, “You must not mind me. I think I shall like you. And I always say what I like. I am only a child, you see,” she added, with a little curl of lier lip. “Mamma will never be more than thirty; therefore, of course, I can never be more than ten.”
I could not help colouring, to hear her speak ‘o of her mother; and yet I could not tell how to contradict her.
She always saw in a moment what one doe3 not like, and she turned the subject, saying very Kntly, “Tell mo about your home. I should like to hear about it. You seem so fond of it”
At first it seemed as if there were nothing to tell Every one and everything at home are naturally so bound up with my very heart, that to Wk of it seemed like taking up a bit of myself ■>d looking at it.
But Evelyn drew me on, from one thing to Kiuther, until it seemed as if, having onco begun, I could never finish. She listened like a child to * new fairy tale, leaning her face on her hands, tod giang on me with her questioning eye3 quite £eriy, only saying when I paused, “Go on— vhatthent”
When I spoke of Mother, a tender, wistful look Ke over her face, and for the first time I saw •■* beautiful and soft her eyes were. That ex
pression, however, quickly passed, and when at length I came to a long pause, she said, smiling, “I am glad your Trusty is a genuine, uncompromising old sheep-dog. I hate poodles,” and then she added in her old dry tone: “It is as good as a pastoral, and as amusing as a novel When we go back to Beauchamp Manor, I will ask papa to build me a model dairy, and will commence an Arcadian life. It would be charming.”
“But,” I said, bewildered at her seeming to think of me and Mother and Betty as if we were people in a poem, “your dairy would be mere play; and I cannot see any amusement in that, except for children. It is the thought that I ought to do the things—that the comfort of those about me depends on my doing them—that makes me so happy in them.”
“The thought that you ought /” she said ;— “that is a word no one understands here. We do what we like, and what we mutt. If I thought I ought to go to the opera or to Vauxhall, I should dislike it as much as going to church.”
“As going to church !” I said.
“Yes,” she replied. “I mean at Beauchamp Manor, where Dr. Humden reads long sermons some dead bishop wrote centuries ago, in a voice which sounds as dead and stony as if it came from the effigies of all the Beauchamps which preside over the Church. In town it is different. The archdeacon never preaches half an hour, and that in the softest voice and in the most elegant language—very little duller than the dullest papers of the Spectator or the Taller. And then, one sees every one; and the performances of the congregation are as good as a play.”
Evelyn next gave herself, with real interest, to the inspection of my wardrobe.
It seemed almost like sacrilege to see the things which had cost Mother so much thought and pains treated with the imperfectly concealed contempt, which curled my cousin’s lips as she unfolded one carefully packed article after another. My best Sunday bonnet brought a very comical twist into her face; but the worst of all was when I unpinned my very best new dress, which had been constructed with infinite contrivance out of Mother’s wedding-dress. Evelyn’s polite self-restraint gave way, and she laughed. It was very seldom she gave any token of being
amused, beyond a dry, comical smile; and now her rare, ringing laugh, seemed to discompose Dragon, the stag-hound, as much as it did me. He seemed to feci he was being laughed at—a disrespect no dog can ever endure—and came forward and rubbed his nose reproachfully under my cousin’s hand, with a little deprecatory moan, as she held up the dress.
She gave him a parenthetical pat, and then looking up in my face, I suppose saw the foolish tears that would gather in my eyes.
“You and Dragon seem aggrieved,” she said. “I am afraid I have touched on sacred ground, Cousin Kitty. You seem very fond of your things.”
“It is not the things,” I said j “but Mother and all of us thought they were so nice; and Miss Pawsey from Truro does go to London once in every three or four years; and, besides, she lias a Book of Fashions, with coloured illustrations.”
I could not tell her it was Mother’s wedding dress. Rich people, who can buy everything they want immediately they want it, at any shop, and throw it aside when they are tired, can have no idea of the little loving sacrifices, the tender ] Winnings, the self-denials, the willing toils, the tearful pleasures, that are interwoven into the household possessions of the poor. To Evelyn my wardrobe was a bad copy of the fashions ;—to me every bit of it was a bit of home, sacred with Mother’s thoughts, contriving for me night and day, with the touch of her busy fingers working for me, with the quiet delight in her eyes as she surveyed me at last arrayed in them, and smoothed down the folds with her delicate neat hands, and then contemplated me from a distance with a combination of the satisfaction of a mother in her child and an artist in his finished work. I could not say all this with a steady voice, so I fell back on the defence of Miss Pawsey; but she only laughed, and said—
“Do you not know that three years old is worse than three centuries? It is all the difference between antiquated and antique. You would look a great deal more modern in a raff and fardingale of one of our great-great-grandmothers in Queen Elizabeth’s days. Indeed, I have no doubt, if I could see Aunt Trevylyan at this moment, I
should think her quite in fashion compared with those exactly out-of-date productions of your Falmouth oracle. We must send for my milliner.”
“But Mother thought it so nice, Cousin Evelyn,” I said at length; “I could not bear to have what she took such pains with pulled to pieces.’
She looked up at me again with the soft, wistful look in her eyes, folded the precious dress together as reverently as I could have done, and, laying it in the trunk, said very gently—
“Do not think any more about it, Cousin Kitty. I will manage it all”
I have been to the opera and to church, and I cannot wonder so much at Cousin Evelyn comparing the two.
The gloom of the Hackney Sundays seems cheerfulness itself compared to the dreary weekday glare of these. At the opera the music was as beautiful as songs in the woods on a spring morning: it was composed by a young Saxon gentleman—Mr. Handel. It was very strange to me that the people attended so little. Aunt Beanchamp had quite a little court of middle-aged and elderly gentlemen, to whom she dispensed gracious smiles, or frowns, which seemed in their way as welcome, pretty severities with her fan, and laughing rebukes; and whenever I looked aboct between the acts, the same small entertainment* seemed going on in the boxes around me. Whil* the music went on I could see and hear nothing else.
Evelyn laughed at me when we returned. I .actually was so unsophisticated, she said, as to go to the opera to enjoy the music
“What can any one go for else?” I asked. “It is not a duty.”
“For the same reason we go to church, or anywhere else,” she replied,—”to meet our fellow-creatures, to play over our play, or see them act theirsI could have told you of three separate dramas going on in the boxes nearest us, one at least of which is likely to rise into tragedy.—You liked the music then %”
“It was as beautiful as a dream,” I said; “o^J I wished sometimes it was a dream.”
“I felt sorry for that modest, gentle-looking young woman having to talk so much nonsense in public I think she could hardly hare felt it right”
“Yon bring right and wrong into everything. You must not think of the actors as men and women, but as merely machines.”
At church it seemed to me very much the same. Aunt Beauchamp encountered many of her little court, and distributed her nods and smiles and her deprecatory glances, as at the play.
During the Psalms people made profound courtesies to their neighbours in the next pews; and during the Litany there was a general fluttering of fans and application of smelling-bottles, as if the confessing ourselves miserahle sinners were too much for the nerves of the congregation. But then it occurred to me that I was as careless as any one, or I should have known nothing of what the rest of the congregation were about; and it was a comfort to confess it in the words of the Litany. Afterwards I stood up, and was beginning to join with all my heart in the psalm, when Evelyn tapped me lightly, and said, “No one sings but the professional choir.” Then I saw that several people were looking at me with considerable amusement, and I felt ashamed of my own voice, and then felt ashamed of being ashamed.
The sermon was on the impropriety of being righteous over much; and every one said, as they met and exchanged greetings in the porch that it was a most elegant and able discourse. It was a pity some of the Methodist fanatics could not hear it Afterwards many important arrangements were made as to card-parties and balls for the ensuing week, or for Sunday evening itself.
On our way home Aunt Beauchamp said to me, “My dear child, you really must not say the responses so emphatically, especially those about our being miserable sinners. People will think you have done something really very wrong, instead of being a sinner in a general way, as, of course, we all must expect to be.”
One thing that made me feel strange in Aunt Beanchamp’s church is its looking so different from the church at home. I cannot help liking the great stone pillars and the arched roof, and the fretwork of the high windows, with bits of stained glass still left in them, better than this new church, with its carpeted passages, and
cushioned galleries, and painted wooden pillars, and flat ceiling. The music, and even the common speech in response and prayers, seem in some way mellowed and made sacred as they echo and wind among the old arches and up the roof, which seems more like the sky.
But Cousin Evelyn says my taste would be deemed perfectly monstrous—that these old country churches are remnants of the dark ages, quite Gothic and barbarous, and that in time, it is hoped, they will be replaced throughout England by buildings in the Greek and Roman style, or by that classic adaptation of both which is so elaborately developed in the ornamental pulpit and sounding-board of the church we attended.
And then Aunt Beauchamp says some of the wood-work is of that costly, new, fashionable wood called mahogany, so that it admits of no comparison with the rough attempts of less civilized ages.
I wonder if there are fashions in architecture as well as in dress—only counting their dates by centuries instead of by years. It would be strange if these old churches should ever be admired again, like the costumes of Queen Elizabeth’s time, and these new buildings be ridiculed as antiquated, like Miss Pawsey’s fashions!
I should be glad if this happened! The poor old Gothic builders seem to have delighted in their work, and taken such pains about it, as il they were guided by thoughts about right and wrong in what they did, by love and duty, instead of just by fashion and taste.
There seems such a heavy weight of emptiness about the life here. The rigidity of Aunt Henderson’s laws seems to me liberty compared with the endless drifting of this life without laws. In the morning the toilette, with the levee of visitors, the eager discussions about the colour of head-dresses and the shape of hoops. In the evening a number of beautifully dressed people, paying elaborate compliments to their present acquaintances, or elaborately dissecting the characters of their absent acquaintances—the only groups really in earnest being apparently those around the card-tables, who not unfrequcntly fall into something very like quarrelling.
This kind of living by the day surely cannot be the right kind—this filling up of every day with trifles, from brim to brim, as if every day were a separate life, and every trifle a momentous question.
When our Saviour told us to live by the day, he meant, I think, a day encompassed by Eternity—a day whose yesterday had gone up to God, to add its little record to the long unforgotten history of the past, whose to-morrow may take us up to God ourselves. We are to live by the day, not as butterflies, which are creatures of a day, but as mortal yet immortal beings belonging to eternity, whose mortal life may end to-night, whose longest life is but an ephemeral fragment of our immortality.
Evelyn seems very much aloof from the world about her. In society sometimes she becomes animated, and flashes brilliant sayings on all sides. But her wit is mostly satirical; the point is too often in the sting. She is evidently felt as a power in her circle; and her power arises in a great measure from her absence of ordinary vanity. She does not care for the opinion of those around her; and whilst those around her are in bondage to one another for a morsel of praise or admiration, she sits apart on a tribunal of her own making, and dispenses her judgments.
At present, I believe, she has passed sentence on me as pharisaical, because of something I said of the new oratorio of the Messiah. At first it seemed to me more heavenly than anything I had ever heard; but when they came to those words about our Lord’s sorrows,” He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” and around us there was, not a hush of shame and penitence, but a little buzz of applause, suppressed whispers, such as “Charming!”—” What tone!”—” No one else can sustain that note in such a way !”—and at the close the audience loudly clapped the singer, and she responded with a deep theatrical courtesy— I thought of ” When I survey the wondrous Gross” wished myself in Dr. Watts’ chapel, and felt I would rather have listened to any poor nasal droning which was worship, than to such mockery. I could not help crying.
When we were in the house again, Evelyn said—
“You enjoyed that music, Kitty.”
“No, Cousin Evelyn,” I said; “I would rather have been at the opera, a hundred times, and far rather in Aunt Henderson’s chapel at Hackney.”
“Your taste is original, at all events,” she replied drily.
“To think,” I said, “of their setting the great shame and agony of our Saviour to music for an evening’s entertainment, and applauding it lite a play! One might as well make a play about the death-bed of a mother. For it is true, it is true! He did suffer all that for us.”
She looked at me earnestly for a few moments, and then she said coldly—
“How do you know, Cousin Kitty, that other people were not feeling it as much as you % What right have we to set down every one as profane and heartless just because the tears do not come at every moment to the surface. The Bible says, ‘Judge not, and ye shall not be judged;’ and tells us not to be in such a hurry to take the motes out of other people’s eyes.”
I was quite silenced It is so difficult to think of the right thing to say at the moment Afterwards I thought of a hundred answers, for I did not mean to judge any one unkindly. I only spoke of my own feelings. But Evelyn has retired into her shell, and evades all attempts to resume the subject.
This morning at breakfast Cousin Harry (of whom we see very little) spoke, quite as an ordinary occurrence, of a duel, in which some one had been killed, in consequence of a quarrel about a lady; and of another little affair of the same kind ending in the flight of a lady of rank to the Continent.
I asked Evelyn afterwards what it meant
“Only that some one ran away with some one else’s wife, and the person to whom the wife belonged did not like it, and so there was a duel, and the husband was killed.”
“But,” I said, ” that is a dreadful sin. Those are things spoken of in the Ten Commandments.
“Sin,” she replied, “my scriptural cousin, is a word not in use in polite circles, except on Sundays, as a quotation from the Prayer Book “e never introduce that kind of phraseology on week davs.”
“Do these terrible things happen often, then 1” I asked.
“Not every day,” she replied drily. “The next thing you will be thinking is, that you hare lighted on a den of thieves. A great many people only play with imitations of hearts in ice. For instance, mamma’s little amusements are as harmless to herself and all concerned as the innocent gambols of a kitten. The only danger in that kind of diversion,” she added bitterly, “is, that it sometimes ends in the real heart and the imitation being scarcely distinguishable from each other.”
The easy and polished world around me no longer seems to me empty and trifling, but terrible. These icicles of pleasure are, then, only the sparkling crust over an abyss of passion, and ■wrong, and sin.
There is excitement and interest enough, certainly, in watching this drama, if one knows anything of what is underneath,—the same kind of excitement as in watching that dreadful ropedancing Cousin Harry took us to see atVauxhalL The people are dancing at the risk of life, and more than life. The least loss of head or heart, the least glancing aside of one of these graceful steps, and the performers fall into depths one shudders to think of.
I tremble when I think of it. Dull and hard as the religion seemed to me at Aunt Henderson’s, it is safety and purity compared with this wretched cruel levity, this dancing on the ice, beneath which your neighbours are sinking and straggling in agony.
Religion is worth something as a safeguard, even when it has ceased to be life and joy.
The sweet hawthorn which makes the air fragrant in spring is still something in winter, although it be only as a prickly prohibitory hedge.
The trees, which were a home of happy singing birds, and a treasure of shade and refreshment in summer, are still a shelter even when their leafless branches toss and crackle in the fierce winds of December. That is, as long as there is any life in the thorns, or the trees, or the religion.
If it were death instead of only winter that made the trees leafless, they would soon cease to
be a shelter as they have before ceased to be a delight
Yesterday I had a letter brought me by Evelyn’s maid, written on perfumed coloured paper.
In it the writer ventured to call me in poetry a goddess, and a star, and a peerless rose. If there had been only that, I should have felt nothing but indignation; for I do believe I have done nothing to deserve such nonsense being said to me.
But at the end there is some prose, in which the writer says he has really formed a devoted attachment to me, and he seems to want me to marry him at once, for he talks of lawyers and settlements. Cousin Evelyn came in as I was sitting perplexing myself what I ought to do. She laughed at my distress, and told me she could show me a drawer full of such compositions.
“It is so trying to have to make any one really unhappy,” I said; “and you see he says in the prose that life will be a blank to him if I cannot give him the answer he wishes.”
“Indeed you need not mind,” she said. “I myself have broken a score of hearts in the same way, and I assure you no one would know it; they do as well without their hearts. They are like the poor gentleman, whom Dante discovered, to his surprise, in the Inferno while he was supposed to be still alive. A devil was walking about in his body while his soul was in torments; and the devil and the soul were so much alike that no one had suspected the change.”
“I had never anything of the kind to do before,” I said, “and I am sorry. The prose really looks as if he would care, and I want to write gently but very firmly. I wish I could see Mother.” But then I thought how Mother had always told me of the one refuge in every difficulty, and I said softly, hardly knowing I said it aloud, “But if I pray, God will help me to do what is right.”
“Pray about a love-letter!” exclaimed my cousin, looking nearly as much shocked as I had felt at her calling the church as good as the play. “Pray about a love-letter, Cousin Kitty! You surely would not do anything so profane.”
“Surely I may pray God to help me to do right,” I said, “about everything. Nothing in winch there seems a question of right and wrong can be out of His care.”
Evelyn looked at mc once more with her wistful soft look, and said very gravely,—
“Kitty, I believe you really do believe in God.”
“You do not think that any wonder,” I said.
“I do,” she said solemnly. “I have been watching you all this time, and I am sure you really do believe in God; and I think you love him. I have never met with any one who did since my old nurse died.”
“Never met with any religious person!” I said.
“I did not say that,” she replied. “I have met with plenty of religious persons. Uncle and Aunt Henderson, and several ladies who almost shed tears over their cards, while talking of Mr. Whitefield’s ‘heavenly sermons,’at Lady Huntingdon’s— numbers of people who would no more give balls in Lent than Aunt Henderson would go to church. I have met all kinds of people who have religious seasons, and religious places, and religious dislikes, who would religiously pull their neighbours to pieces, and thank God they are not as other men. At the oratorio I thought you were going to turn out just a Pharisee like the rest; but I was.wrong. Except you and my old nurse, I never met with any one who believed, not in religion, but in God; not now and then, but always. And I wish I were like either of you.”
“Oh, Cousin Evelyn,” I said, “you must not judge people so severely. How can we know what is really in other people’s hearts? Howcan we know what humility and love there are in the hearts of those you call Pharisees; how they weep in secret over the infirmities you despise; how much they have to overcome; how, perhaps, the severity you dislike is only the irritation of a heart struggling with its own temptations and not quite succeeding? How do you know that they may not be” praying for you even while you are laughing at them?”
“I do not want them to pray for me,” she replied fiercely. “I know exactly how they would pray. They would tell God I was in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity; they would thank him for having, by his distinguishing mercy, made them to differ; and then they would express a hope that I might be made to see the error of my ways. I know they would, for I heard two religious ladies once talking together about me.
One asked if I was a believer; and the other, who had expressed great interest in me and sought my confidence, said she ‘was not without hope of me, for I had expressed great disgust at the world. She had even told Lady Huntingdon she thought I might be won to the truth.’ The woman had actually worked herself into my confidence by pretended sympathy, just to gossip about me at the religious tea-parties.”
I endeavoured to say a word in defence, but she exclaimed,—” Cousin Kitty, if I thought your religion would make you commit a treachery like that, I would not say a word to you. But you have never tried to penetrate into my confidence, nor have you betrayed any one else’s. I feel I can trust you. I feel if you say you care for me you mean it; and you love me as me myself,— not like a doctor, as a kind of interesting religious case. Now,” she continued, in a gentler tone, ” I am not at all happy, and I believe if I loved God as you do I should be. That may seem to you a very poor reason for wishing to be good, but it docs seem as if God meant us to be happy; and I have been trying, but I don’t get on. In deed I feel as if I got worse. I have tried to confess my faults to God. I used to think that must be easy, but the more I try the harder it is. It seems as if one never could get to the bottom of what one has to confess. At the bottom of the faults, censoriousness, idleness, hastiness, I come to silts, pride, selfishness. It is no! the things only that are wrong, it is / that ani wrong,—I myself,—and what can alter me. I may change my words or my actions, but who is to change me 1 Sometimes I feel a longing to fall into a long sleep and wake up somebody else, quite new.”
It occurred to me that the thought of conversion, which to Cousin Tom hao\ in the wrong place, become like a barrier between him and God, would to Evelyn be the very thing she longed for. And I said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” It is we that must be converted, changed, and not merely, as you say, our actions,— turned quite round from sin and darkness to God and light.”
She caught at the words “as little children.” She said, “Cousin Kitty, that is just
the thing I should like,—that would be like waking up quite new. But how can that be 1”
“It seems to me,” I said, ” that it must be like the blind man, who, believing our Lord’s words, and looking up to him sightless, saw. Looking to Him must be turning to him, and turning to liim must be conversion.”
Then we agreed that we both had much to learn, and that we would read the Bible together. Since then we have read the Bible very often together, Evelyn and I. But her anxiety and uneasiness seem to increase. She says the Bible is so full of God, not only as a King whose audience must be attended on Sundays, or a Judge at a distance recording our sins to weigh them at the last day, but as a Father near us always, having a right to our tenderest love as well as our deepest reverence.
“And I,” she says, “am far from loving him best—have scarcely all my life done anything, or given up anything, to please him.”
I comforted her as well as I could. I told her she must not think so much of her loving God as of His loving her,—loving us on through all our ingratitude and foolishness. We read together of the Cross—of Him who bore our sins there in His own body, and bore them away.
I cannot but think this is the true balm for my cousin’s distress; it always restores and cheers me—and yet she is not comforted.
It seems to me sometimes as if while I were trying to pour in consolation, a mightier hand than mine gently put aside the balm, and made the very gracious words I repeated a knife to probe deeper and deeper into the wound.
And then “I can only wait, and wonder, and pray. It does seem as if God were working in her heart. She is so much gentler, and more subdued. And the Bible says not only joy and peace, but gentleness, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit
I often wish Evelyn were only as free as the old woman who sells oranges at Aunt Beauchamp’s door, or the little boy who sweeps the crossings; for they may go where they like and hear the Methodist preachers in Moorfields or in the Foundery ChapeL And I feel as if Mr. Wesley or Mr. Whitefield could help my cousin as I cannot. If she could only hear those mighty,
melting words of conviction and consolation I saw bringing tears down the colliers’ faces, or holding the crowd at Moorfields in awe-stricken, breathless attention.
My wish is accomplished. We are to go and hear Mr. Whitefield speak at Lady Huntingdon’s house in Park Street. It came about in this way: —
A lady who is reported to have lately become very religious called one morning, and after some general conversation began to speak of Mr. Whitefield’s addresses in Lady Huntingdon’s house. She strongly urged my aunt and cousin to go, saying, by way of inducement, that it was quite a select assembly—no people one would not like to meet were invited, or, at all events, if such people came, one was in no way mixed up with them. “And he is such a wonderful orator,” she said; “no common-place fanatic, I assure yon, Evelyn. His discourses are quite such as you would admire, quite suited to people of the highest intellectual powers. My Lord Bolingbroke was quite fascinated, and my Lord Chesterfield himself said to Mr. Whitefield (in his elegant way), ‘He would not say to him what he would say to every one else, how much he approved him.'”
“I did not know that Lord Chesterfield and Lord Bolingbroke were considered good judges of a sermon,” said Evelyn drily.
“Of the doctrine—well, that is another thing, said the religious lady; “but of the oratory and the taste. Garrick, the great actor, says that his tones have such power that he can make his hearers weep and tremble merely by varying his pronunciation of the word Mesopotamia; and many clever men, not at all religious, say they would as soon hear him as the best play.”
“I have heard many services which seemed to me like plays,” said Evelyn, very mischievously; “and I do not see that it can do any one’s soul any good to be made to weep at the word Mesopotamia.”
“Oh, if we speak of doing real good to the soul,” rejoined the visitor—”thatis what I mean;” and in a tone of real earnest feeling she added, “I never heard any one speak of the soul, and of Christ, and of salvation like Mr. Whitefield. While he is preaching I can never think of anything but the great things he is speaking of. It is only afterwards one remembers his oratory and his voice.”
And it was agreed that we should go to Lady Huntingdon’s house the next time Mr. Whitefield was to preach.
“How strange it is,” Evelyn said to me when the lady had left, “what things religious people think will influence us who are still ‘in the world!’ What inducement would it be to me to go and hear a preacher, if Lord Bolingbroke and Lord Chesterfield, or all the clever and sceptical and dissipated noblemen in England liked him, and were no better for it? They try to tempt us to hear what is good, by saying the congregation is fashionable, or that clever people are captivated, or that the preacher is a genius, or an orator, or a man of the world, when I do think the most worldly people care more for the religion in a sermon than for anything else, and would be more attracted if they would say,’ We want you to hear that preacher, because he speaks of sin, and of Christ, and of the forgiveness of sins in a way no one else does.’ I wonder,” she concluded, after a pause, with a little smile, “if I ever should become really religious, if I shall do the same; if I shall one day be saying to Harry,’ You must hear this or that preacher; for he is a better judge of a horse than any jockey you know.”
We have heard Mr. Whitefield.
And what can I remember]
Just a man striving with his whole heart and soul to win lost souls out of a perishing, sorrowful world to Christ, and holiness, and joy.
Just the conviction poured in on the heart by an overwhelming torrent of pleading, warning, tender, fervent eloquence, that Christ Jesus the Lord cares more infinitely to win and save lost wandering souls than man himself—that where the preacher weeps and entreats, the Saviour died and saved.
Yes, it is done. The work of salvation is done. “It is finished.”
I never understood that in the same way before.
It is not only that the Lord Jesus loves us, yearns 8ver us, entreats us not to perish. He has saved us. He has actually taken our sins
and blotted them out, washed them out of sight, white, whiter than snow, in his own blood
It is not only that he pities. He saves. He has died. He has redeemed. The hands stretched out to save are those that paid the terrible ransom. He did not begin to pity us when we began to turn to him. “When we were without strength, he died for us, ungodly.”
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.”
“For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
I never understood this in this way before; and yet there it is, and always has been, as clear as daylight, in page after page of the Bible.
All the way home Evelyn said nothing. Aunt Beauchamp was the only one who spoke; and she said it was very affecting, certainly; but she did not see there was anything so very original It was all in the Prayer-Book and in the Bible.
And then, after a pause, she added, in rather a self-contradictory way, “But if we are to be what Mr. Whitefield would have us, we might as well all go into convents at once. He really speaks as if people were to do nothing but be religious. He forgets that some of us have other duties.”
Then she took refuge in her vinaigrette, and said in a very languid voice, “My darling Evelyn, you look quite pale. Much more excitement of this kind would make us both quite ill. The man is so terribly vehement, he makes one feel as if one were in peril of life and death. Such preaching may do for people without nerves, but it weald soon kill me. I am only too glad I escaped without an attack of hysterics. And,” she continued, “I was told that a few .dap since Lady Suffolk was there by invitation. 1 really wonder a person of Lady Huntingdon’s character should invite such people to her house My dear,” concluded my aunt,” I do not think the thing is respectable, and I wonder Lady Mary proposed our attending sur”” an assembly. Indeed I wonder at myself for consenting to go. It is not at all a kind of place for sound church people to be seen at. I would not have the archdeacon know it on any account; and I am sure Dr. Humden would think I had been out of iav senses.”
And soothed with so many restoratives, ecclesiastical, social, and medical, Aunt Beauchamp relapsed into her usual state of languor and selfcontentment.
But Evelyn said nothing. Only when I ventured some hours afterwards to knock at her bedroom door, she opened and closed it in silence, and then taking both my hands, said, in a soft trembling voice, ” Cousin Kitty, I am very full of sin! I really think I am worse than any one, because, being myself so wrong, I have so despised every one around me. I have been a Pharisee and a publican all in one.”
And then she burst into tears, and buried her face in her hands. But in a few minutes she looked up again with a face beaming with a soft, childlike, lowly peace, and she said, “But Cousin Kitty, I am happier than I ever thought any one could be. For I do believe our Lord Jesus Christ died for my sins, and has really washed them away. And I do feel sure God loves me, even me; and I think he really will by degrees make me good—I mean humble, and loving, and kind. I do feel so at home, Cousin Kitty,” she added. “I feel as I had come back to the very heart of my Father—and oh, he loves me so tenderly, so infinitely, and has been loving me so long. Yes, at home, and at rest,” she sobbed; ” at home everywltere, and for ever, and for ever.”
The next morning Evelyn came to me early, pale, but with a great calm on her frank expressive face. “Kitty,” she said, “I have had a strange night. I could not sleep at all. It seemed as if the sins of all my past life came up before me unbidden, as they say the whole past sometimes comes vividly back to a drowning man. I saw the good I had left undone, the evil I have said and done, and the pride and- selfishness at the bottom of all. And almost more than anything, I felt how unkind, and even unjust, I had been to mamma; how ungenerous in not veiling any of her little infirmities; for I know she loves papa and Harry and me really better than all else in the world. I felt I must come with the first light and confess this to you. For one night came back to me, Kitty, years and years ago, when I was a little child. Harry and I had the scarlet
fever, and I saw before me, as if it were yesterday, my mother’s pale tender face, as she moved from one little bed to the other. I remember thinking how beautiful and dear she was as she sat by the nursery fire, and the flickering light fell on her face and her dark hair, and how she started at any movement or moan I or Harry made, and came so softly to the bedside, and bent over me with such anxious love in her eyes, and said tender little soothing words, and smoothed the pillow, or kissed my forehead with the soft kiss which was better than any cooling draught. Since then, indeed, we have been much away from her, and left to governesses and tutors; but Kitty, think what a blessing it is to recall all that early affection now, instead of by-and-by, when it would be too late to say a loving word, or do a thing to please her in return! Now I can bear to think of this, and of all my coldness and impatience, with the thought of the Cross and of God’s forgiving love, and with the hope of the days to come. But only think what it would have been to have seen it all too late.”
It seems as if, in coming back to God, Evelyn had come back to all that is tender and true in natural human love.
I suppose this is conversion. The joy of such a waking must be very great. But it is joy enough to be awake, however little we know when and how we awoke,—awake in the light of our Heavenly Father’s love, to do the day’s work he gives us.
To-day she smiled and said to me,—
“I think I should not mind now their talking
over my case at Lady Betty’s tea-parties. I had rather not, but if there was kindness at the bottom of it, I need not mind much. But Kitty,” she continued, “I do think still it is not possible to talk truly and much of our deepest feelings of any kind. I think it is a waste of power which we want for action.”
“We certainly need never sit down to talk of our own feelings,” I said. “There are moments when they will come out. And there is so much in the Bible to speak of without talking about ourselves.”
“Yes,” she said; “I think setting ourselves to talk religion is weakening. Think of Harry and me having a meeting to discuss which of us loved our parents best, or whether we loved them better yesterday or to-day! Yet there are sacred times when we must speak of those we love.”
Aunt Beauchamp is rather puzzled at the change in Evelyn. Evelyn has tried to explain it to her. But she says she cannot at all understand it. “Every one believed in Christianity except a few sceptics, like Lord Bolingbroke. Of course^ the work of our redemption was ‘ finished.’ It was finished more than seventeen hundred years since. Mr. Humden preached about it, always, at least, on Good Friday. And why Evelyn should be so particularly anxious about having her sins forgiven, she could not conceive; she had always been charming, if at times a little esptigk. But if she was happy, no one could object.”
There is nothing striking in this change in Evelyn, but it is pervading,—a gentleness in all she says and does; which, with the natural truthfulness and power of her character, are very winning. And this I notice especially with regard to her mother, a deference and tenderness, which, with no peculiar demonstrations of affection, evidently touch Aunt Beauchamp more than she knows. She begins even to venture to consult Evelyn about her wardrobe.
Evelyn does not ask to go again to hear Mr. Whitefield. But she has asked to go with me to see my poor old Methodist orange woman, who has disappeared from our door-steps, and now lies contentedly on her poor bed, coughing and suffering, waiting the Lord’s time, which she says, is sure to be exactly right The dear old soul gets us to read to her chapters from her old Bible and hymns, from Mr. Wesley’s new hymn-book; and repeats to us bits from Mr. “Wesley’s sermons. And perhaps, although sometimes the grammar is very confused and the theology not very clear, the strength of God made perfect in the weakness of a dying-bed may help us both as much as the mighty power of Mr. Whitefield’s eloquence.
To-day Hugh Spencer called on his way from Cornwall to Oxford.
At first he called me Mrs. Kitty and was very ceremonious. But I could scarcely help crying,
I was so glad. It was like a little bit of home. But he did not bring a very good account of Mother, and that made me cry in earnest. And when he saw that he dropped naturally into his old manner,—always so kind and like truth itself.
When he was gone, Evelyn asked me who he was, and why I had not said more about him. “He looks,” she said, “a man one could trust”
But why should I? He is only like one of ourselves.
I am so glad and thankful. Aunt Beauchamp is going again to Bath for the waters. And from Bath, father or Jack is to fetch me home.
I am so happy, I can scarcely help singing all day. I hope it is not ungrateful. They have all been so very kind to me in London.
And even Aunt Beauchamp’s very dignified maid, of whom at first I stood in such awe, seemed quite sorry when she heard I was going, and fell from the highest refinement of English into her native Devonshire dialect, when she took leave of me, to go and prepare the house at Bath, and wished me every blessing with tears in her eyes.
Yet I have done nothing for her, except being very sorry for her, and trying to comfort her one day when she was crying because her only brother had got drunk and gone and taken the king’s money and listed for the wars, and left her widowed mother alone.
To-day Evelyn went with me to wish good-bye to Aunt Henderson. Aunt Henderson was very kind in her hortatory way. She told me she had heard with thankfulness that Evelyn had become serious. But she advised her not to run into extremes. Young people brought out of the world were very apt to run into the other extreme of fanaticism. She hoped Evelyn, if she was indeed sincere, would keep the golden meaa It had always been her endeavour to do so, and she had found it the wisest plan.
Cousin Tom was more shy and awkward than ever. He said, when I asked him, that he had attended Mr. Wesley’s preaching two or three times, but it was like daggers to him. For as to telling everything to his father and mother, he did not see how any human being could. To sit evening after evening at home a distrusted delinquent, the subject of indirect lectures, was more tLan he could bear. If he confessed, he must run away the next morning.
I told him I was sure he had no idea of the true love there was in his mother’s heart—if he would only try it.
“Very little more idea, Tom,” I said, “than you have of the love God has for you—if you would only try that!”
A gleam of light flashed for a moment from under the shaggy eyebrows, and he glanced up at me. But then the old desponding downcast look came back. Aunt Henderson and Evelyn joined us. and he said no more.
Aunt Jcaiiie seemed to me feebler than when I saw her last; but her dear old face lighted up as she talked to us.
And as we were going away, she rose and held our hands in each of hers, and said, in a tender, trembling voice,—
“The world is no easy place for bairns like you to find their way through. And there’s no safe road through it that I know, from first to last, but just the foot-prints of the Lord himself. But you must not look to see even these in any long track before you. You’ll mostly find nothing
plain but the next “step. But your hearts need not sink for that A Saviour’s hand to guide you is better than a map. It upholds while it guides. I have found that the times when I was longing for the map were just those when I was losing hold of the hand; and then more than once the thorns, piercing my feet, drove me back to the foot-prints and the hand I should never have forsaken. But you need not be afraid even of the thorns,” she added, her whole face lighting up with confidence and joy; “the feet in whose prints we tread were pierced for us with worse than thorns. And the hand that guides and upholds is a hand well able to bind up any wounds. It has bound up what none else could—the broken heart.”
Then, as once or twice before, she seemed to forget the thought of our presence in the presence of God. Her whole spirit seemed to rise in prayer.
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HE tribe thus named appears before us in one memorable scene. Their history before and after it lies in some obscurity. We are left to search out and combine some scattered notices, and to get from them
1 W$ffl wnat l’Snt we C;U1^M^1 In 1 Chron. ii. 55, the house of Rechab
is identified with a section of the Kenites,
*ho came into Canaan with the Israelites and retained
their nomadic habits, and the name of Hammath is
mentioned as the patriarch of the whole tribe. It has
been inferred from this passage that the descendants of
Rechab belonged to a branch of the Kenites settled
from the first at Jabez iu Judah. The fact, however,
that Jehonadab took an active part in the revolution
which placed Jehu on the throne, seems to indicate
that he and his tribe belonged to Israel rather than to
Judah, and the late date of 1 Chron., taken together
with other facts, makes it more probable that this passage refers to the locality occupied by the Rechabites after their return from the captivity. Of Rechab himself nothing is known. He may have been the father, he may have been the remote ancestor of Jehonadab. The meaning of the word makes it probable enough that it was an epithet passing into a proper name. It may have pointed, as in the robber chief of 2 Sam. iv. 2, to a conspicuous form of the wild Bedouin life, and Jehonadab, the son of the Rider, may have been, in part at least, for that reason, the companion and friend of the fierce captain of Israel who drives as with the fury of madness (2 Kings ix. 20).
Another conjecture as to the meaning of the name is ingenious enough to merit a disinterment from the forgotten learning of the sixteenth century. Boulduc infers from 2 Kings ii. ]2; xiii. 14, that the two great prophets Elijah and Elisha were known, each of them
in his time, as the chariot of Israel, i.e., its strength and protection. He infers from this that the special disciples of the prophets, who followed them in all their austerity, were known as the “sons of the chariot,” and that afterwards, when the original meaning had been lost sight of, this was taken as a patronymic, and referred to an unknown Rechab. At present, of course, the different vowel-points of the two words are sufficiently distinctive; but the strange reading of the LXX. in Judges i. 19 shows that one word might easily enough be taken for the other. Apart from the evidence of the name, and the obvious probability of the fact, we have the statement of John of Jerusalem that Jehonadab was a disciple of Elisha.
2. As his name, his descent, and the part which he played indicate, Jehonadab and his people had all along been worshippers of Jehovah, circumcised, and so within the covenant of Abraham, though not reckoned as belonging to Israel, and probably therefore not considering themselves bound by the Mosaic law and ritual. The worship of Baal, introduced by Jezebel and Ahab, was accordingly not less offensive to them than to the Israelites. The luxury and license of Phoenician cities threatened the destruction of the simplicity of their nomadic life (Amos ii. 7, 8; vi. 3-6). A protest was needed against both evils, and as in the case of Elijah, and of the Nazarites of Amos ii. 11, it took the form of asceticism. There was to be a more rigid adherence than ever to the old Arab life. What had been a traditional habit was enforced by a solemn command from the sheikh and prophet of the tribe, the destroyer of idolatry, which no one dared to transgress. They were to drink no wine, nor build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any. All their days they were to dwell in tents, as remembering that they were strangers in the land (Jer. xxxv. C, 7). This was to be the condition of their retaining a distinct tribal existence. For two centuries and a half they adhered faithfully to this rule, but we have no record of any part taken by them in the history of the period. We may think of them as presenting the same picture which other tribes, uniting the nomade life with religious austerity, have presented in later periods.
The Nabathaeans, of whom Diodorus Siculus speaks as neither sowing seed, nor planting fruit-tree, nor using nor building house, and enforcing these transmitted customs under pain of death, give us one striking instance. Another is found in the prohibition of wine by Mahomet. A yet more interesting parallel is found in the rapid growth of the sect of the Wahabys during the last and present centuries. Abd-ul-Wahab, from whom the sect takes its name, reproduces the old type of character in all its completeness. Anxious to protect his countrymen from the revolting vices of the Turks, as Jehonadab had been to protect the Kenites from the like vices of the Phoenicians, the Bedouin reformer felt the necessity of returning to the old austerity of Arab
life. What wine had been to the earlier preacher of righteousness, the outward sign and incentive of a fatal corruption, opium and tobacco were to the later prophet, and as such were rigidly proscribed. The rapidity with which the Wahabys became a formidable party, the Puritans of Islam, presents a striking analogy to the strong political influence of Jehonadab in 2 Kings x. 15, 23.
3. The invasion of Judah by Nebuchadnezzarin B.c 607, drove the Rechabites from their tents. Possibly some of the previous periods of danger may have led to their settling within the limits of the territory of Judah. Some inferences may be safely drawn from the facts of Jer. xxxv. The names of the Rechabites show that they continued to be worshippers of Jehovah. They are already known to the prophet. One of them (ver. 3) bears the same name. Their rigid Nazarite life gained for them admission into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers assigned to priests and Levites, within its precincts. They were received by the sons or followers of “a man of God,” a prophet or devotee, of special sanctity (ver. 4). Here they are tempted, and are proof against the temptation, and their steadfastness is turned into a reproof for the unfaithfulness of Judah and Jerusalem. The history of this trial ends with a special blessing, the full import of which has for the most part not been adequately apprehended: “Jonadab, the son of Rechab, shall not want a man to stand before me for ever” (ver. 19). We should hardly expect at this precise point to lose sight altogether of those of whom they were spoken, even if the words pointed only to the perpetuation of the name and tribe. They have, however, a higher meaning. The words “to stand before me” are essentially liturgical. The tribe of Levi is chosen to “stand before” the Lord (Deut x. 8; xviii. 5, 7). In Gen. xviii. 22; Judges xx. 28; Ps. exxxiv. 1; Jer. xv. 19, the liturgical meaning is equally prominent and unmistakeable. The fact that this meaning is given (” ministering before me”) in the Targum of Jonathan, is evidence—(1) as to the received meaning of the phrase; (2) that this rendering did not shock the feelings of studious and devout rabbis in our Lord’s time; (3) that it was at least probable that there existed representatives of the Rechabites connected with the Temple services in the time of Jonathan. This, then, was the extent of the new blessing. The Rechabites were solemnly adopted into the families of Israel, and were recognised as incorporated into the tribe of I*vlTheir purity, their faithfulness, their consecrated life gained for them, as it gained for other Nazarites that honour. In Lam. iv. 7, we may perhaps trace a reference to the Rechabites, who had been the most conspicuous examples of the Nazarite life in the prophets time, and most the object of his admiration.
4. It remains for us to see whether there are any traces
of their after-history in the Biblical or later writers. It is believed that there are such traces, and that they confirm the statements made in the previous paragraph.
We have the singular heading of the Ps. lxxi. in the LXX. version, evidence, of course, of a corresponding Hebrew title in the third century B.c, and indicating that the “sons of Jonadab” shared the captivity of Israel, and took their place among the Levite psalmists who gave expression to the sorrows of the people.
There is the significant mention of a son of Rechah in Keh. ill. 14, as co-operating with the priests, Levites, aod princes in the restoration of the wall of Jerusalem. The mention of the house of Rechab in 1 Chron. ii. 55, though not without difficulty, points, there can be little doubt, to the same conclusion. The Rechabites have become scribes. They give themselves to a calling which, at the time of the return from Babylon, was chiefly if not exclusively in the hands of Levites. The other names (Tirathites, Shimeathites, and Sachathites, in the authorized version) seem to add nothing to our knowledge. The Vulgate rendering, however (evidence of a traditional Jewish interpretation in the time of Jerome), gives a translation based on etymologies, more or less accurate, of the proper names, which strikingly confirms the view now taken,—” Cognationes quoque scribarum habitantium in Jabes, canentes atque resonantes, et in taocmaculis commorantes.” Thus interpreted, the passage points to a resumption of the outward form of their old life and its union with their new functions. It deserves notice also that while in 1 Chron. ii. 54,55, the Rechabites and Netophathites are mentioned in close connection, the “sons of the singers” in Neh. xii. 28 appear as coming in large numbers from the villages of the same Netopbathites. The close juxtaposition of the RechaUtes with the descendants of David in 1 Chron. iii. 1, shows also in how honourable an esteem they were held at the time when that book was compiled.
The account of the martyrdom of James the Just, given by Hegesippus, brings the name of the Rechabites once wore before us, and in a very strange connection. While the Scribes and Pharisees were stoning him, “one of the priests of the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabim, who are mentioned by Jeremiah the prophet,” cried out, protesting against the crime. Dr. Stanley, struck with the seeming anomaly of a priest, “not only not of Levitical, but not even of Jewish descent,” supposes the name to have been used loosely as indicating the abstemious life of James and other Nazarites, and points to the fact that Epiphanius ascribes to Symeon the brother of James the words which Hegesippus puts into the mouth of the Rechabite as a proof that it denoted merely the Nazarite form of life. Cal
met supposes the man to have been one of the Rechabite Nethinim, whom the informant of Hegesippus took in his ignorance for a priest. The view which has been here taken presents, it is believed, a more satisfactory solution. It was hardly possible that a writer like Hegesippus, living at a time when the details of the Temple-services were fresh in the memories of men, should have thus spoken of the Rechabim unless there had been a body of men to whom the name was commonly applied. He uses it as a man would do to whom it was familiar without being struck by any apparent or real anomaly. The Targum of Jonathan on Jer. xxxv. 19, indicates, as has been noticed, the same fact. We may accept Hegesippus therefore as an additional witness to the existence of the Rechabites as a recognised body up to the destruction of Jerusalem, sharing in the ritual of the Temple, partly descended from the old “sons of Jonadab,” partly recruited by the incorporation into their ranks of men devoting themselves, as did James and Symeon, to the same consecrated life. The form of austere holiness presented in the life of Jonadab, and the blessing pronounced on his descendants, found their highest representatives in the two brothers of the Lord.
Some later notices are not without interest. Benjamin of Tudela, in the twelfth century, mentions that near El Jubar he found Jews who were named Rechabites. They tilled the ground, kept flocks and herds, abstained from wine and flesh, and gave tithes to teachers who devoted themselves to studying the law, and weeping for Jerusalem. They were 100,000 in number, and were governed by a prince, Salomon han-Nasi, who traced his genealogy up to the house of David, and ruled over the city of Thema and Telmas. A later traveller, Dr. Wolff, gives a yet stranger and more detailed report. The Jews of Jerusalem and Yemen told him that he would find the Rechabites of Jer. xxxv. living near Mecca. When he came near Scnaa he came in contact with a tribe, the Beni-Khaibr, who identified themselves with the sons of Jonadab. With one of them, Monsa, Wolff conversed, and reports the dialogue as follows:—” I asked him,’Whose descendants are you?’ Mousa answered, ‘Come and I will showyou,’ and read from an Arabic Bible the words of Jer. xxxv. 5-11. He then went on. ‘Come and you will find us 60,000 in number. You see the words of the prophet have been fulfilled, Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.'” In a later journal he mentions a second interview with Mousa, describes them as keeping strictly to the old rule, calls them now by the name of the B’nfrArliab, and says that B’n§ Israel of the tribe of Dan live with them.—Smith’s ” Dictionary of the Bible.”