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THE HAPPY LIFE OF A PARISH PRIEST IN

SWEDEN.

BY JEAN PAUL.

I

WILL begin with winter, and I will suppose it to be

Christmas. The priest, whom we shall imagine to be a German, and summoned from the southern climate of Germany upon presentation to the church of a Swedish hamlet lying in a high polar latitude, rises in cheerfulness about seven o'clock in the morning; and till half past nine he burns his lamp. At nine o'clock the stars are still shining, and the unclouded moon even yet longer. This prolongation of starlight into the forenoon is to him delightful; for he is a German, and has a sense of something marvellous in a starry forenoon.

Methinks I behold the priest and his flock moving towards the church with lanterns : the lights dispersed amongst the crowd connect the congregation into the appearance of some domestic group or larger household, and carry the priest back to his childish years during the winter season and Christmas matins, when

every

hand bore its candle. Arrived at the pulpit, he declares to his audience the plain truth, word for word, as it stands in the Gospel : in the presence of God, all intellectual pretensions are called upon to be silent; the very reason ceases to be reasonable ; nor is anything reasonable in the sight of God but a sincere and upright heart.

Just as he and his flock are issuing from the church, the

The sun was gone now.

The curled moon Was like a little feather Fluttering far down the gulf. And now

She spoke through the still weather. Her voice was like the voice the stars

Had when they sung together.

“I wish that he were come to me,

For he will come," she said. * Have I not prayed in Heaven?— on earth,

Lord, Lord, has he not prayed ?
Are not two prayers a perfect strength?

And shall I feel afraid ?

“ When round his head the aureole clings,

And he is clothed in white,
I'll take his hand and go with him

To the deep wells of light,
And we will step down as to a stream,

And bathe there in God's sight.

“We two will stand beside that shrine,

Occult, withheld, untrod,
Whose lamps are stirred continually

With prayers sent up to God;
And see our old prayers, granted, melt

Each like a little cloud.

“ We two will lie i' the shadow of

That living mystic tree,
Within whose secret growth the Dove

Is sometimes felt to be,
While every leaf that His plumes touch

Saith His Name audibly.

“ And I myself will teach to him,

I myself, lying so,
The songs I sing here; which his voice

Shall pause in, hushed and slow,
And find some knowledge at each pause,

Or some new thing to know.”

(Ah sweet! Just now, in that bird's song,

Strove not her accents there
Fain to be hearkened? When those bells

Possessed the midday air,
Was she not stepping to my side

Down all the trembling stair?)

“ We two," she said, “ will seek the groves

Where the Lady Mary is, With her five handmaidens, whose names

Are five sweet symphonies, Cecily, Gertrude, Magdalen,

Margaret, and Rosalys.

“ Circlewise sit they, with bound locks

And foreheads garlanded;
Into the fine cloth white like flame

Weaving the golden thread,
To fashion the birth-robes for them

Who are just born, being dead.

“ He shall fear, haply, and be dumb;

Then I will lay my cheek
To his, and tell about our love,

Not once abashed or weak;
And the dear Mother will approve

My pride, and let me speak.

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