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I knew that Emma was an orphan, and that her uncle was the only near relative she had ; there was therefore nothing very surprising in this. Had he affected any relationship, I might justly have been startled, as I was in possession of every particular touching the connexions of Miss Singleton. But when he told me that he was expected to give away the young lady at the altar, I felt half inclined to do him the injustice of supposing there must be some mistake. Who is so fit for this office as her uncle, thought I; and is it at all likely that a friend and a friend only-would be fetched from a greater distance even than myself for the occasion. Nor was I for some time relieved from this difficulty, till it occurred to me that Mr. Singleton would, of course, marry her, and in that case could not act in the other capacity as well. Knowing nothing of the place whither I was going, the strange thought suggested itself that there might possibly be two parsonages, with a wedding going forward at each, and that we had hitherto been playing at cross questions.
“ Did I understand your destination was Mr. Singleton's?" I asked.
“Why, yes,” said he, laughing ; “ I thought you were aware of that. Mrs. Singleton, Mrs. Singleton, that is to be—is the daughter of one of my oldest friends, and I shall be delighted to see her so favorably settled.”
There is such a tendency to mystification in everything connected with a wedding, that I did not think it worth while to correct my friend's mistake, though I could not help smiling at the idea of his giving to Emma, the style and title of “Mrs. Singleton that is to be.” More obtuse myself, even, than I posed him to be, I was still thinking over the matter, when he asked me if I knew Somerland ?
Since the receipt of Mr. Singleton's letter, nearly six weeks ago, that name had been so completely blotted from my memory, that I hesitated for some time, and then said
“I have seen a gentleman of that name, many months ago, but I know nothing more of him than his appearance."
“I knew him well, some few years since, in business," resumed my friend ; "he and my boy, indeed, were schoolfellows long before that time; and I took a great fancy to him. I shall
have much pleasure in making you better known to each other when we meet to-morrow."
“What! will he be there?” said I, with ludicrous energy ; for I was getting still deeper in perplexity.
It would have rejoiced the heart of any misanthrope to see how my friend laughed. For some seconds he was unable to proceed, but recovering at length his self possession-"I should rather think he would,” said he, drily—“a wedding would be a poor affair without the bridegroom."
Though this was said in explanation of my doubts, it only served still more to perplex and puzzle me. Well, then, said I to myself, there are certainly to be two weddings to-morrow at the parsonage; and unless my friend's ideas on the subject are as cloudy and confused as my own, it looks very much as if even three were contemplated. But fearing that I had already shewn myself to be sufficiently mystified, I contrived to give the conversation another turn; and until we reached our destination, ventured no farther remarks on so puzzling a subject. Having parted with my fellow-traveller with many assurances of the satisfaction I should feel in meeting him again on the morrow, I repaired to my comfortable quarters at the Harcourt Arms, arrangements having been made for him at the parsonage to save time on the following day.
The morning of the wedding was most propitious, as such mornings are always assumed to be; and having risen early, I was surprised to find a note upon my table, which had been left after I had retired for the night, which I did before my usual time, having been fatigued by the journey. But my first surprise was far exceeded, when, on breaking the seal, I found that I was expected to be the officiating clergyman on this interesting occasion. After the usual introductory preamble, the note, which was a short one from Mr. Singleton, thus went on :-“Of course I can take no denial, as we are otherwise unprovided, and a man may not marry his grandmother-nor himself.”
“There then !” said I, tossing the letter on the table, and taking it up again—"Mr. Singleton is to be married ; and • Mrs. Singleton that is to be' is not Emma, after all!” To add to my perplexity, not one word was said about Mr. and Mrs. Marsham ; and I began to doubt whether I had not been in a dream of six weeks' duration, which, like that of honest Bunyan, had been dropped occasionally, and taken up again at pleasure.
I had however no time to dream at present, for there was a carriage waiting to convey me to the parsonage. Having made my toilet with a little extra care, I stepped into it and was soon at the door of a pretty little cottage seated in grounds of no very vast extent, with the old church standing within bow-shot. Here the wedding guests were assembled, and from this comparatively humble dwelling, the bridal processions were soon after formed.
But for fear the reader's ideas should be as shadowy and indistinct as my own up to this period certainly were, let me say who were the parties most deeply interested on this auspicious occasion.
There were, then, in reality, two—but not three-weddings on that morning, at the parsonage,– Mr. Singleton's and Emma's. The former was married to a pious lady of excellent family and some property, the latter, as we before hinted, to Mr. Marsham, who proved, after all, to be identical with the pleasant gentlemanly personage I had met with many months before at Springclose. He had been recalled from the Continent on the death of his rich relative already spoken of, whose property he had inherited, on condition of his taking the name and arms of the deceased, so that he now rejoiced in addition to the more substantial recommendations of a vast property, in the well-sounding names of Herbert Somerland Marsham. Nor do these little incidents comprise the whole portion of his history that is connected with our preceding tale. When I had met with him at Springclose he had but just returned to England, and had gone there chiefly with a view of finding out the whereabouts of Emma Singleton, for whom he had from early life cherished a strong attachment, and of whose sojourn with the Glosenfanes he had been apprized. Disappointed in finding that she had left the place, he felt a fond, a melancholy interest, as persons in such circumstances are perhaps apt to do, in visiting the scenes she had in some sense endeared by her presence, and this consideration alone induced him to pay a first and last visit to the church of St. Fabian, as has already been recorded. Nor was honest Roger Byfield altogether mistaken in supposing that he and his non-content neighbours carried with them the sympathies of Mr Somerland. From no feelings of littleness or private pique against the Rev. Silenus Glosenfane on account of his treachery towards Emma, but simply from a sense of the soul-destroying tendency of Puseyism he had carried these remonstrances to the proper quarter, and the bishop of the diocese being an early and especial friend of his, the influence was found to be too powerful for the wily parson, whose fate was soon sealed; and who was to be succeeded in the short space of a few weeks, by a sound, consistent, and laborious clergyman, on whose behalf the same interest had been put forth.
And who was this new incumbent of Springclose ? It was the Rev. William Love Singleton, for whose reception, on returning from his wedding tour, the quaint old parsonage was even now in forward preparation. Emma and her worthy and wealthy partner, unrestrained by any obligations of business or profession, had the world all before them, where to choose their place of rest; and before many months were over, came to reside in our neighbourhood, and were in almost daily communication with Mr. Singleton and ourselves.
It would form a delightful sequel to our story were we permitted to tell of all the changes for good effected by this new position of affairs-- how the old church at St. Fabians was crowded with a happy, hearty, intelligent, pious congregation of true hearers and doers of the word-of worshippers in spirit and in truth-how Infant and Sunday schools sprang up around – how the ample resources of Mr. Marsham ministered to the substantial comforts of the neighbouring poor, and furnished means for every project of usefulness, planned by Mr. Singleton and myself, and how from time to time means were adopted to bring back again to the Shepherd and Bishop of souls those wanderers from the pale of profession, of whom so much has been said in the foregoing papers. Of all of them, perhaps, it might be said, that they had not “changed" their religion ; they had only taken up with the first that had been offered them, and probabilities seemed to be in favor of their closing with a better, as soon as they could feel satisfied that it would meet that inward craving which they still felt amidst all the glare, and glitter, and empty pomp of Puseyism. That it really proved so I am not prepared to say, but as I witnessed so many encouraging incidents, and rejoiced in the instances of usefulness and tokens for good now cheering us on every side, I felt more than ever persuaded that the whole business of education for time and for eternity was shut up in the three mysterious words, SEED, SOIL, and SOWING.
H. R. E.
“Forget them not, though now their name
Be but a mournful sound,
A stillness round.” There is a custom in the Moravian church which has often struck me as one of singular beauty. On the morning of Easter Sunday there is an early service at six o'clock. Where the climate and the season admit of it, this service is held in the open air, in the simple burying ground belonging to the congregation. There, while surrounded by all that most forcibly reminds of mortality, are the words of Scripture referring to a glorious immortality, read ; and at that season of the year when all nature is again bursting into life after the torpor and apparent death of winter, are the promises heard, that tell of a never-ending spring, followed by no withering-no decay.
But this is not all. At a certain period of the service, the names are read out, of all those who, during the past year have been committed to the grave from among that congregation; and strange and mournful is it to hear the names that in that list meet together for the first and the last time. Various as were their histories (for what life, however short, is without its history) they are all summed up as in the earliest funeral register extant—that contained in the fifth chapter of Genesis“And he died.” Brief words, but how full of food for reflection!
A visit to a burying ground on a dark, foggy, cheerless, December day, is a very different thing to the scene we have alluded to. In the former case, external objects assist the mind in looking beyond the tomb: in the latter, the animal spirits are