Page images

It is worth enquiring why this should be the case. David was much more of a despot than the sovereigns of the present day: his will was law-his word at once overruled the honest remonstrance of Joab and the captains of the host, and yet his project was slowly and imperfectly accomplished. Might was far less efficient in his time than Right in ours. This is the real solution of the problem.

And we ought to feel deeply grateful for the progress already made, and still making, in the right direction. The time has been, even in England, when the taking of a Census, such as that of the 30th March last, would have convulsed the country, and brought about a revolution, or, at all events, have occasioned serious disturbance and bloodshed. It has been so, when the cause was far less fraught with suspicion-less capable of being misconstrued into an act of espionage, or an infringement on the liberty of the subject. We are disposed, then, to learn from this event:

I. Gratitude for National Blessings. If we look back for a few years only, when the country was harassed and agitated by disaffected spirits, and appeared almost to be on the eve of an insurrection, this feeling must receive a powerful impulse. Other states and kingdoms have passed through all the hideous phases that lay between the first idea and its frightful climax and consummation ; and some of them are just beginning to retrace their steps, if haply they may feel after and find again, the Much they have bargained for so little. But in God's good providence, we are not partakers of their plagues. Our throne stands firmer than ever; our institutions, our privileges, our liberties, are all brightening. We are going from strength to strength—from the physical to the moral; and the giant Grim of Might will soon fall prone before the Great-heart, Right.

II. Another idea suggested by the Census is that of Individual importance and responsibility. “ What can be the use of a return of this kind ?” is again and again asked by those who give no proper consideration to the matter. “ Sarah Ann Jones, aged under three months, female, daughter, scholar at home, of Thomas and Sarah Jones. Surely this tautological paragraph of domestic history can be of no use to any one

66 the

much less to the Government of an august and powerful country like our own." To such a doubt we can by no means subscribe. That child, young and helpless as it is, is an instrument for good or evil, not only throughout the country, but throughout the world. Children are an heritage of the Lord—that child is His, lent by Him to solace and humanize and cheer the home else desolate and childless, but now radiant with love and light and joy to those who watch and tend it. In a new sense, child is father to the man.” By every look and want and movement, the parent's heart is moulded: he is learning from it day by day, and hour by hour, though he little suspects those silent and secret influences that are gradually transforming him from the man to the father, and building up a character that in its turn will fashion other characters, and help to shape the very constitution under which he lives, and through it to teach the world, perhaps, a lesson pregnant with incalculable good or evil. A babe is an item of vast importance in the statistics of an empire. As“ no man liveth to himself,” so no infant is born into the world without a mission. In a general sense, all are ready to admit this; but that such infant should be watched over and cared for by the Government under which we live, is a fact rich in interest and fruitful of much salutary thought.

Even the curious and apparently iterated details of the return are not without their use and importance. When we find such strange and ludicrous baptismal names bestowed upon children, as Acts-Apostles, Ono, or Savage Bear, with all the vast variety of adapted surnames; and remember how those properly belonging to one sex are often modified to suit the other, we need not wonder that it should become necessary to distinguish sons from daughters by some other means than those which are generally thought sufficient.

And who can doubt the vast importance of ascertaining the Educational statistics of a country like ours, though, in one sense, every one must fall under the designation of a scholar. The world itself is God's great school, and it may be doubted whether a mere infant does not learn more indirectly and of itself, than it afterwards attains under a regular system of tuition. Yet the thought is a pleasant one, and full of promise,

that the rulers of the land are interested in the enquiry whether the child of every cottager is well taught, ill taught, or not taught at all.

III. Hence, from the Census, we infer, amongst other lessons, the Paternity of our Government. Never before was the question so thoroughly investigated. The trade, profession, or calling of every member of the community is matter of interest in high places. Class legislation is to give place to a better state of things. Every one is to become, in a certain sense, and to a certain extent, a public character. His own individual case and circumstances, and the case and circumstances of that class of which he is the type and representative, are spread before the eyes of his country. Sooner or later its merits may be canVassed and its wrongs redressed. They may be, though we cannot say they will. But a possibility is worth something& probability, more. Without such information the wished-for good could never come. Facts precede the Right. "He that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.”

But not only does this considerate interest of the Government extend to the operative and commercial position of its population, it has special reference to its physical, mental, and religious standing. The numbers who receive education, the character of that education, so far as it can be estimated by the price paid for it, or the religious denomination with which it is associated —the age at which it is administered, and the sanitary provisions made for those who receive it—are all elements of much importance in the eyes of Government. We hail this as a token for good, and the first step toward a recognition of the principle that wisdom and knowledge are the true stability of a state.

Nor do we witness without sincere pleasure and gratitude the tacit repudiation of that old heresy that education is for our youth alone. Our Literary Institutions—those schools for “ children of a larger growth,” come in for a share of notice. What are they doing, how are they doing it, amongst how many are they working, and with what results, are questions now thought worthy of a governmental enquiry. All the appliances and means of instruction ascertained, we doubt not, that, by and by, good will follow.

IV. Yet, most of all, do we feel grateful for the Religious solicitude of our Legislature. Churches and chapels are to be counted out: we are to have the bona fide return of actual hearers of the Word. We shall know how few (would we could say, how many!) of a population professing and calling themselves Christians, carry that profession so far even as within the walls of the sanctuary. The result will, we fear, be a melancholy one; but the enquiry that calls for it, and probably the ultimate issue, are fraught with interest. Whatever the supercilious or the malcontent religionist may insinuate against the doctrine of nursing fathers and nursing mothers in the church, we cannot but feel grateful that we are not in the hands of such an Assembly as that which regulates the movements of our neighbour-land across the Channel. We thank God that we have individuals who fear Him, in the Government, whatever may be said of its aggregate incapacity to advance the interests of true godliness. The State “consents to the law that it is good.” Our faith in it would be faint indeed, and our love for it cold and distant, did we see in it no desire to begin with the fear of the Lord. We are still a great, a happy, and a prosperous people ; let us never forget Him who has done so great things for us.


There was a cuckoo-clock hanging in Tom Turner's cottage. When it struck One, Tom's wife laid the baby in the cradle, and took a saucepan off the fire, from which came a very savoury smell. Her two little children, who had been playing in the open doorway, ran to the table, and began softly to drum upon it with their pewter spoons, looking eagerly at their mother as she turned a nice little piece of pork into a dish, and set greens and potatoes round it. They fetched the salt ; then they set a chair for their father ; brought their own stools; and pulled their mother's rocking-chair close to the table.

“ Run to the door, Billy,” said the mother, “and see if father's coming.” Billy ran to the door; and, after the fashion of little children, looked first the right way, and then the wrong way, but no father was to be seen.

Presently the mother followed him, and shaded her eyes with her hand, for the sun was hot.

“ If father does'nt come soon," she observed, " the apple-dumpling will be too much done by a deal.”

“O, there he is !” cried the little boy, “ he's coming round by the wood; and now he's going over the bridge. O father! make haste, and have some apple-dumpling."

“ Tom,” said his wife, as he came near, “ art tired to-day ?”

“ Uncommon tired," said Tom, and he then threw himself on the bench, in the shadow of the thatch.

“ Has anything gone wrong ?” asked his wife: “ what's the matter ?"

“ Matter!" repeated Tom, “is anything the matter? The matter is this, mother, that I'm a miserable hard-worked slave;" and he clapped his hands upon his knees, and muttered in a deep voice, which frightened the children- a miserable slave!"

“ Bless us !" said the wife, and could not make out what he meant.

“ A miserable, ill-used slave,” continued Tom," and always have been."

“ Always have been ?" said his wife, “why, father, I thought thou used to say, at the election time, that thou was a free-born Briton ?"

“ Women have no business with politics," said Tom, getting up rather sulkily. And whether it was the force of habit, or the smell of the dinner, that made him do it, has not been ascertained, but it is certain that he walked into the house, ate plenty of pork and greens, and then took a tolerable share in demolishing the apple dumpling.

When the little children were gone out to play, his wife said to him, “ Tom, I hope thou and master haven't had words to


Master," said Tom.--"yes, a pretty master he has been ; and a pretty slave I've been. Don't talk to me of masters.”

“O Tom, Tom," cried his wife, “ but he's been a good master to you; fourteen shillings a week, regular wages,—that's not a thing to make a sneer at; and think how warm the children are lapped up o' winter nights, and you with as good shoes to your feet as ever keep the master out of the mud."

« PreviousContinue »