« AnkstesnisTęsti »
Art. I. — The Two Brothers; or, Why are you a Prot
I. My old master, Jeremiah Milwood, as I have told you, had but two children, both sons, and with only about two years' difference in their ages. They were his pride, and he spared no pains or expense in their education. He was a stanch Presbyterian ; and his highest ambition for his two sons was, that they should become earnest, devoted, and distinguished Presbyterian ministers. He seemed likely to be gratified. Both were of a serious turn, studious and piously inclined. Before the elder had completed his seventeenth year, both became subjects of grace, and both, on leaving college, entered the seminary.
During the second year of their residence in the seminary, their mother, a woman of great strength of character and sweetness of disposition, fell ill and died. From that moment, a striking change was observed in the tone and manner of
ohn, the elder brother. He was his mother's favorite, and shared especially her confidence. At her request, he had spent several hours with her alone just previously to her death, and, though none of us knew what transpired to affect him, it was subsequently surmised, from one or two words which escaped him, that she had expressed, in that trying moment, to him, as the only member of her family she could hope to influence, or to whom she felt able to open her heart, some misgivings as to the truth of Presbyterianism, and had begged him, by his love of her and his regard for the welfare of his soul, to examine thoroughly its foundations before entering the NEW SERIES. VOL. I. NO. I.
ministry. However this might be, it is certain he was never again what he had been. He returned, after the funeral obsequies, to the seminary, and even remained there several months ; but he lost his relish for the prescribed course of studies, and became unwilling to attend the services in the chapel. Finally, he wrote to his father, informing him that he did not wish to become a Presbyterian minister, and, indeed, could not, without binding himself to profess what he did not then believe and in all probability never should believe, and begging permission to return home and take some other calling. My old master, you know, was never remarkable for his sweetness and amiability, and the recent affliction he suffered in the loss of his wife had rendered him doubly sour and morose. His wrath was terrible. His son had disappointed him, disgraced him, and he replied to him, that, unless he continued at the seminary and returned to his original faith and resolution, he was henceforth no son of his, and must seek a home, father, and friends where he could find them. John, knowing explanation or expostulation would be vain, took the only alternative left him, and suffered himself to be exiled from his home. James, the younger brother, who in many respects resembled his father, remained at the seminary and completed his course.
John withdrew to a distant part of the country, assumed his mother's name, and supported himself for three or four years by teaching an academy. While teaching the academy, he contrived to study the profession of the law, in the practice of which he subsequently engaged, distinguished himself, and, in a few years, amassed a fortune adequate to his simple wants and tasies. Having done this, he retired from business and went abroad. James, on completing his course, was licensed to preach, and in a few months was called and ordained to the pastoral charge of a wealthy and influential congregation in one of our principal Atlantic cities, and was soon known and esteemed as one of the leading ministers of his denomination. About a year after his settlement, his father died and left him the bulk of his estate, which was considerable ; and a year later he married the beautiful and accomplished daughter and heiress of his richest parishioner, who brought him a still more ample fortune, and became the mother of five children, two sons and three daughters. Every thing prospered with him, and he had all that heart could wish. But, after a while, the tide of prosperity began to ebb; death visited his palace, and
his children, one by one, all, save the youngest, who was deformed, sickly, and partially idiotic, were taken from him, and at length his wife followed them. He bore up with stoical fortitude against these repeated blows, but he felt them, was forced to reflect on the certainty of death, the uncertainty of life, and the perishable nature of all earthly goods, more seriously than he had ever done before, and to some extent his heart was softened and his spirit bowed.
Time had hardly worn off the wire-edge of his grief and begun to heal the wound in his heart, when he was surprised by a letter from his brother, whom he had neither seen nor heard from for nearly thirty years. The letter offered him such sympathy and consolation as befitted the occasion, and brought him the intelligence that its writer was about to revisit his native land, and, following the yearnings of his heart, would hasten to enıbrace the brother he had never for a moment forgotten, or ceased to love. James received the letter with mixed emotions, but upon the whole without displeasure, and looked forward even with interest to his brother's return. In a few weeks after sending his letter, John embarked, and, favored with a short and pleasant passage across the Atlantic, landed in the city in which James was settled, and without delay drove with his baggage to his brother's residence. The brothers met ; but so altered in appearance was each, that it was with difficulty that either could recognize his brother in the other. The meeting was frank and cordial on the part of the elder, and less cold and restrained on the part of the younger than could have been expected from his general character. Perhaps he had recently had some compunctious visitings of conscience for having so long forgotten even to think of one he was bound by the ties of nature to love ; perhaps he had a vein of tenderness in his nature which had not hitherto been observed, and that early scenes and early recollections revived, and for the moment half subdued, the sectarian and minister. But be this as it may, he was not displeased to meet his brother. They were soon seated in a sumptuous apartment, engaged in free and familiar conversation. They recalled their boyish days and boyish frolics, spoke of their college life and college companions, and finally of their mother and her lamented death. The tone of both was subdued, and they turned their conversation upon death, sin, redemption, the resurrection, and immortal life. While speaking on these awful and sublime topics, John referred to the change which early came over him with regard to his religious views, and stated that he was, and for years had been, a member of the Roman Catholic Church. This was unexpected as well as unwelcome news to James. If his brother had told him that he had become a Socinian or even an unbeliever, he would not have been surprised, and could have borne it; but to be told that he, the principal mover of the Protestant league for the conversion of the Pope and the overthrow of Popery, had himself a brother who had turned Papist, was more than he could bear. He was thunderstruck, and seemed for some minutes as one berest of thought and sense. Never had he been known to be so overcome. At length, he partially recovered, and said to his brother, — “Mr. Milwood, your room is ready ; I must wrestle with God in prayer for you before I can speak to you again.” John bade him good night, and quietly retired to his room. It was already late in the evening, and, offering a prayer for his brother, another for the repose of the soul of his mother, and commending himself to his Heavenly Father and the protection of Our Lady and all the saints, he composed himself, with a subdued but serene mind, to rest.
II. The brothers met again in the morning in the breakfastparlour. James was exteriorly composed, and greeted his brother in his blandest tone ; but a careful observer would have suspected that he intended to play the part of the civil and courteous host, rather than that of the warm and affectionate brother. Breakfast passed pretty much in silence. John was disposed to wait the motions of his brother, and James was undecided whether to broach the Catholic question or not. But he could not converse freely with his brother on indifferent matters ; he felt that sooner or later they must discuss the question, and perhaps the sooner the better. Revolving the matter for some time in his mind, he at length, throwing aside the morning paper he had been pretending to read, broke the silence by remarking to his brother:
“ So it seems the result has been that you have turned Pa
"I am a Catholic,” replied John, with a slight emphasis on the last word, intended as a quiet rebuke to his brother for employing a nickname.
“ It is strange! What in the world could have induced the son of a Presbyterian father, piously brought up, well in
pist ? "