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THE HAPPY LIFE OF A PARISH PRIEST IN
BY JEAN PAUL.
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
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 ?
And shall I feel afraid ?
“ When round his head the aureole clings,
And he is clothed in white,
To the deep wells of light,
And bathe there in God's sight.
“We two will stand beside that shrine,
Occult, withheld, untrod,
With prayers sent up to God;
Each like a little cloud.
“ We two will lie i' the shadow of
That living mystic tree,
Is sometimes felt to be,
Saith His Name audibly.
“ And I myself will teach to him,
I myself, lying so,
Shall pause in, hushed and slow,
Or some new thing to know.”
(Ah sweet! Just now, in that bird's song,
Strove not her accents there
Possessed the midday air,
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;
Weaving the golden thread,
Who are just born, being dead.
“ He shall fear, haply, and be dumb;
Then I will lay my cheek
Not once abashed or weak;
My pride, and let me speak.