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Narratives, Anecdotes, &c.
THE NEW YEAR.-OUR CHILDREN.
To the Editor of "The Appeal.”
If you think the following remarks, addressed to my fellow-workmen, suitable for your first magazine in the new year, I shall be much pleased if you will give them a place in it. They were suggested to me by a little occurrence in my own family on New Year's Day last year, which led, I hope, to very beneficial consequences both to me and mine. The last evening of 1850 we were all sitting together around the fire just after tea, and the young ones talking of New Year's Day, wanting me to give them something if, the next morning, they wished us first “a happy new year;" this was soon promised; but what was the something to be? what would it cost ? “Oh, it will not cost much, not more than a pint or two of beer would, papa.” “Well, what is it?” “Why, on Sunday, Teacher read to us a story of an Indian child, out of a little magazine, and all the class were so pleased with it, and he said it cost but one halfpenny a month,—that he got one every month for his children, and if we liked he would get one for us at the same price, then we could read it at home on Sunday evenings, with our father and mother. Now, we shall want you to give us a halfpenny a month to buy one." Of course I willingly promised, and of course I was duly first saluted the next morning, and had to keep my promise.* Little, however, did my darlings imagine what New Year's thoughts they would put into papa's head. Little did they think of being their father's teacher, or of the consequences that depended upon their pretty wish.
I am a mechanic, in good and constant employ, and am reckoned a tolerably steady man; that is, I keep regular to work, and never lost a day yet from being intoxicated, so that my master could depend on my being at my post, which could not be said for too many of my fellow-workmen. Still I thought it no harm on Saturday night, after giving my wife enough, as I thought, to join the rest with a pipe and glass for an hour or two at some public-house, where a shilling or two was soon spent, and very often I stopped much too long, could hardly walk home, and when I did get there, I was enough to wear out the patience of my wife, who was already worn out with the Saturday-night work for a little family. I have often wondered she did not reproach me bitterly, but she never did. When
* We suppose either the Juvenile Missionary Herald, or the Juvenile Missionary Magazine, must be the little magazine alluded to, as they are the only halfpenny missionary magazines which we know of.
I owned my folly the next morning, she only used mildly to tell me of the bad example it was for my children, as, sometimes, some of them would wake up and wonder what was the matter with their father.
It was the children's remark that the magazine would not "cost more than a pint or two of beer,” which set me thinking. I am ashamed to say, it never occurred to me before how many a thing might be procured for my family, by the money I threw away, with. out thinking of it, for a pint or two of beer. It kept me awake a good deal that night. Why, a shilling a-week, thought I, is £2 12s. a-year, nearly half the rent of my house, and most weeks I spend several shillings a-week. At least I could save all that I did not take with my meals or work, all the rest was only indulging myself, while my family had no share in it at all. Well, to be short, I quite resolved with myself that I would give up the public-house entirely, let who liked laugh or jeer, and that I would not enjoy myself apart from my family,—and with this determination in my mind I at length fell asleep.
Next morning, my children, who had heard me get up, called out, “A happy new year, papa. We wish you a happy new year. Now we are to have the magazines.” “Yes, my dears,” said I, “that you shall: a happy new year to you too;" and I thought and hoped they would have a happier new year, for I would spend my Saturday evenings with them, instead of wasting in the public-house the money I ought to spend on them. I had very soon to try the strength of my determination. At work every one was wishing another “a happy new year,” and most were proposing to begin it happily, as they thought, by a party at the public-house. I had not recollected this, as New Year's Day was Wednesday, and I thought I could slip off unnoticed on Saturday; but now all had agreed to join, and I should be the only one who would look unneighbourly and mean if I did not go with the rest. I avoided answering at first. I thought of home, _what would my wife say ? She, kind soul, would bid me do what I liked, only not stop late, or take too much; but I knew she would wish me at home. I thought of my resolution, but hoped if I went this once, which was not a regular thing, I might still keep off on Saturday; but then, again, I was quite certain that it would always be hard to do differently from the rest,_the words of my children, “it would not cost more than a pint or two of beer,” would stick in my mind; yes, I thought, I may take for them and myself several of the penny and twopenny magazines during the whole year, for what I should spend to-night-and, worst of all, I know that if I break my resolution once, I may easily be persuaded to break it once more,that thought happily made up my mind; I said plainly and at once, I would not join. Your numerous readers, who, like myself, work with companies, will understand in a moment the kind of replies I
got from several of my fellow-workmen. “I was becoming a teetotaller,"_“I should soon be a saint,”_"John would be preaching and praying soon;" such remarks, not to mention more revolting ones, I heard in abundance, when they, to their surprise, found I was quite firm in my resolution not to go. Much harder, however, was it to resist the good-tempered entreaties of others who were always friendly with me, and who reminded the rest that I had always been “a good fellow.” I quietly told them that I would tell tbem my reasons another time. I said little all that morning, but turned over in my mind what I would do. A plan soon occurred to
I determined to go to the children's Teacher, whom I knew by sight, get the right name of the magazine the children wanted, and of as many others as would make up a certain sum for the whole year; then to go to the bookseller's to get the first number of each, which would of course be out that day, and pay the money for the whole year down, for each of them. I saw the Teacher going home to dinner; he was exceedingly pleased, for I told him the whole; and by his advice I got two different halfpenny magazines for my two children, who were old enough to read them easily, besides John Cassell's Working Man's Friend, a penny magazine belonging to the Religious denomination at whose Sunday school my children attended,* The Family Friend, and The Appeal. All these I easily obtained at the bookseller's as I went back to work, and carried with me wrapped up in paper to the workshop, and laid them with my over-coat and hat. As it happened, and, indeed, as I half-wished, the unusual shape and look of the parcel led one of my friends to ask me what it might be? I told him he should see if he liked to look in after tea as he was going to “The White Horse:" my concealing the matter excited a little curiosity, and it seemed generally supposed that it had something to do with my not going to the frolic that evening. However, I said nothing, and we all left at five o'clock, with no further words about it. I forgot to say I had told my wife at noon-time of what the others were going to do, and she, supposing I was going, as a matter of course, only cautioned me “not to let myself down among them, for they would lead me on to what I would repent of.” I said nothing to her then. So when tea was over I got up, and she thought I was going out, and looked as much as to say again, “take
However, I went to my coat, took out the parcel, sat down again, and bid them all come round the fire. Every eye was fixed on the parcel,—some little time was occupied in setting the younger ones to open it without cutting the string; the biggest boy at last shewed them how to slip it over the end of the parcel, and out peeped the coloured cover of the magazines. “Oh, the magazine ! the magazine ! papa has got the magazine already!" shouted three or four little
* We think our correspondent will try if he cannot now afford “The Leisure Hour," a weekly periodical by the Traet Society.
voices; but how great was the pleasure when it was found that the oldest two had one each, besides several others for the common good, you, if you are a parent, as from some of your own pieces I suppose you are, can well understand. When the pictures had all been looked at, I took one of the magazines, and, looking out a tale in which I thought all would be interested, I began to read it to them; my wife meanwhile amusing the youngest of all with some of the pictures on her knee. Oh, Sir, I did feel the sweetness of preferring my family to the public-house, and spending my money on what all enjoyed, rather than selfishly gratifying a depraved taste, and injuring body and mind too. Well, while we were thus engaged, in came three of my friends of the better sort, whom I mentioned before, who were going on to “The White Horse.” As we were all round the fire, they would not let us break up, but sat down on the outside of us. The children soon ran up to them, for they knew them well, and told them about the magazines, shewed them those that were their own, and the others which "pa pa said were for him and mamma, and for all, when we could understand them.” “Oh, John, this, then, was the parcel you were so secret about at the workshop, is it?” said one of them ; "why, you had no need to put off telling us what it was till now.” “Well,” I said, “perhaps I had not; but I thought it was of no use raising a laugh at myself for nothing; and if I had told all, J-, and W- -, and others, would have only made fun of it.” I then told them the whole tale of my children's request, and my thoughts and resolutions in consequence, and how difficult I found it not to give way in the morning; this, I added, was the first word my wife had heard of what I now told them, and I asked them whether they did not think my New Year's Day Evening quite as happy
one as that at “The White Horse;" and this to boot, that every month we should have the new magazines, and something worth reading all the month, and all worth binding up for books at the year's end; while, by always pursuing the same course, I should save at least a shilling or two every week, and perhaps £3 or £4 a-year, for the use of my family. My friends agreed most cordially that I had the best of it. I need not tell you what my wife's looks said, tears were the only words she could use. My friends were rising to go; but two of them said, no, they would sit an hour or two with me, and take home their money to their wives and families too; the other said he had no excuse for stopping away, but he hoped he should think of it another time. Well, Sir, a very pleasant evening we had, -my wife and children, and our two friends,-and we all agreed that thus far at least we had a “Happy New Year.”
But this, Sir, is not all. I have not time to tell you now; nor you, I am sure, room to put in so much if I had. I soon began to think the teetotallers, I had so often laughed at, right, and that I might save several pints of beer daily; and I have found water a more strengthen
ing drink than strong beer. Strong beer used its strength against me, but water has made me a heartier, healthier man than ever. I soon, too, followed my children (alas, I ought to have led them !) to the place of worship where they were taught; and oh, how different did religion look when I heard it enforced by those who loved and practised it, to what it did when I heard of it only from the scorn and jeers of ignorant and conceited infidels. I trust, Sir, I am not de. luded in hoping that I am a sincere follower, however imperfect a one, of that blessed Saviour whom you delight to honour and serve in your “Appeal” to the people. I can only tell you, Sir, in conclusion, that my dear children's wish has been indeed fulfilled, for the past year was certainly the happiest I have yet known; I only wish that thou. sands of your readers may have one like it this year, and that they may leave for ever that Poor Man's Family Curse, the public-house, and take up with the House of God instead, and prefer spending their money on their families' comfort, to swallowing it down, away from home, in pleasure below a swine; then truly, Sir, will they have a “Happy New Year.” I am, Sir, yours respectfully,
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING IN Christ. If you would be Christ's at his coming, you must be Christ's now! If you live without Christ, and die without Christ, you must pass into eternity with. out Christ, you must rise from the grave without Christ,-you must appear at the tribunal of God without Christ, and in the decisions of that day you must be pronounced, Christ himself will pronounce you, “None of his !” The judgment may be distant, but death is near; and to you death is as decisive as the judgment. It is to every one of you the time of irresistible settlement. What you are at the moment when you draw your last breath, you shall be found when the "judgment shall be set, and the books shall be opened.” If you are not Christ's ere you quit the world, his you can never be,-no, never,-nor be yours, nor his salvation. If once you have passed the boundary between time and eternity, there is no power that can bring you into union with him. God's power never will, for his own word has told us so; and there is no other power in existence competent to effect it. Ob, ye who regard lying vanities, and forsake your own mercies,-do not, do not, as you value the happiness of an unending existence, persist in thus trifling. Short and transient as it is, the life which you enjoy here is inestimably precious. But its value lies in its relation to the life to come. It is but the introduction of your being: the period, not so much for living, as for prepar.