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succeeded and our work is a joy to us, a new element of danger has to be faced. The best spoils most easily. The law of degeneracy seems to be most potent. Choice pansies spoil easier than dandelions, vines more easily than blackberry briers; the ripest and finest fruit most quickly decays. To reach a high degree of excellence is an effort, but to maintain it is even a greater labour.

John Bunyan said "he did see a by-path right from the gates of the Celestial City down to perdition.' We have no record of these idolatrous nations lapsing into a more debasing idolatry or changing their gods; but Israel, after so much instruction and so many privileges, Israel, the chosen and peculiar people of God, these we find degenerating, to follow the silly idolatries of the very people they had conquered. Truly we are only safe as, day by day, feeling our danger, priding ourselves nothing on past attainments, our one constant prayer is, "Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe."

BICHVBD

How easy is forgetfulness, and how seemingly natural to man. What a history of miracle, deliverance, guidance, forbearance lay behind Israel's past! From the hour they left Egypt until their safe settlement in Canaan, every step had been marked by wonderful manifestations of God's special care. Yet in a few short years all this is so completely forgotten, that this people turn to serve idols, who neither had or could ever render them a single service, nay, who brought upon them, as all wrong doing ever does, failure, sorrow, and penalty, and yet these instructed Israelites need years of such misery before they see their folly and turn to their gracious God and deliverer. Can we not see around us many whose lives repeat this sad folly to-day? They are bringing upon themselves sorrow as the direct result of their sin and disobedience, yet they cling to their evil ways. Wise men should learn lessons for their own guidance from the follies of others. May we not ask ourselves when it was this apostacy of Israel took place, and how it came to pass? It was consequent upon the death and removal of Joshua. We do well to heed and value the teachings of the past and of our elders. All their experience is not useless. Wisdom was not born with the young. We may see the need of cherishing the remembrance of the past, of meditating upon its suggestions, of being constantly on our guard to preserve the old faith, of watching the first indications of declension in our own life, and of determining to make progress in the spiritual life. Whenever we are not going forward, decay is at work. Even the valuable past is not enough for to-day's need. We must grow or die.

IV.-AUGUST 26.

"The sword of the Lord and of Gideon."-JUDGES Vii. 20. INE earnest, vigorous man, what may he not accomplish! How he makes the idler move out of his way! How he inspires the halfhearted! How he fills other hearts with his own daring and enthusiasm! What a mercy is the gift of a man keen to perceive what ought to be done, and ready to face any difficulties in accomplishing his purpose. Such a man was Moses, so was Luther, and such was Gideon. These men make their own victories under God. They either compel the world to follow, or trample it under their feet. These true heroes have been the world's greatest benefactors. Their history teaches us this, if we are only filled with a noble purpose and a passionate desire to bless men and look only to God for help, there is nothing that we may not dare

and do.

What an insight the history of Gideon gives us into the accommodating love of God. The Most High graciously submitted to the test which Gideon felt would most satisfy his faith, strengthen his weakness, and help his purpose. This principle of accommodating love is every where in creation. The waves of light come with a million

Gideon's Army at the Water.

blows in a few seconds to the eye, and every gentle wavelet is accommodated to the organ of vision. The waves of sound are accommodated to the drum of the ear, and carry sphere, the distribution of plants, the adjustment of the sweet sounds for our enjoyment. The mixture of the atmoneed of the fish to breathe in the water, and the supply of oxygen for it from marine plants. The whole Bible, in its style, illustrations, and examples, in its development of sand other illustrations are everywhere around us, showtruth and final incarnation of Christ, these and a thouing us how God adapts His grandest resources and brings them down to suit our weakness and need. This principle of the Divine activity we shall find all through our lives; what God did for Gideon He will lovingly do for us, suit Himself to our ever-varying need.

The battle cry of Gideon was, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon."

Gideon felt that he had something to do, but he did not presume to place himself before God. If we make Christ our leader and unite ourselves to Him, we shall find it a joy and privilege, with certain victory, to walk after Him. We must work and pray, as if everything depended on our efforts. We must wait and watch, feeling sure that everything really depends on God; our very strength and constancy, our revival in hours of depression, all depend on God. Gideon by the very test he proposed felt that all creation, the dewdrops even, were in God's hands, and that God knew all men's hearts, the coward from the courageous. He felt he lived only in the remembrance and care of God.

The weapons with which Gideon armed his three companies for night attack are eminently suggestive-" trumpets and lamps;" it needs no far-fetched interpretation to see these as significant of truth and light, the only weapons by which we can ever really fight for God or hope to win, and specially the only weapons with which we can fight in the night of ignorance and error. "The sword of the Spirit" (the only aggressive weapon given the Christian) is the word of God."

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"Truth and light," these are the sword of the Lord and of every true Christian worker. The true Christian neither wishes for nor will he have any other. God's work is not to be done by violence, not by mere brute force; it is a moral and spiritual force, a voice, not a sword, God's truth spoken with man's tongue, God's power united with man's prayer, God's method coming from man's mouth, God's salvation and man's speech speaking it, God's work and man's word proclaiming it. Truth and light, persuasion not pressure, argument not artillery, thought not thunder. All other victories than these recoil upon, and bring mischief even to the conqueror. Truth and light-God's truth and God's light can never retreat, they are marching on in stately certainty to assured and final conquest.

OUR YOUNG NATURALISTS' LOOK-OUT.

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E have a greenhouse at the top of our garden, and the gardener found that in the winter a robin came in through a little hole in the window, and he used to feed it with crumbs, while he had his breakfast, and it became so tame that it did not mind him looking at it.

It soon began to build a nest in a pot in which a begonia was growing, and built it in such a manner that a leaf sheltered it from the hot sun and any draught; and so the gardener told mother, and she showed it to me. After a time, the robin laid six eggs, and at the end of a fortnight we had five baby robins. We are not sure about what has become of the sixth egg. The baby robins are just beginning to have feathers, so I suppose it will not be long before they fly away and leave us. But mother says, perhaps, some of them may return next winter.

ALICE MABEL NORRIS (12), Erith, Kent. HART'S TONGUE FERN. - The other day I found a curious specimen of the Hart's-tongue Fern (Scolopendrium eulgaris); I think it must be the variety called marginatum. The following is a brief description which I jotted down at the time: The fronds long, narrow, and very irregularly lobed; the larger fronds deeply lobed; the smaller ones only slightly so, but all crenated. A light-coloured membranous line running all round the fronds at the wrong side, about the sixteenth part of an inch from the edge: this line gives the fronds the appearance of having a double margin; the stipes unusually long; fronds too young to have visible spore-cases.

The above agrees pretty accurately with Mr. Moore's description of the form marginatum, only that in my specimen the membranous line runs very close to the margins of the fronds, not "midway between the midrib and margin." Is this variety common? M. A. M. (Tralee).

ABOUT A PIGEON.-During the intense frost, snow, and hard weather of November, 1882, a lone half-famished house pigeon was noticed by us in the farm-yard. It was truly in a sorry plight, weak and poor through want of food, and so much benumbed by exposure to the cold, that it had difficult work to get out of the way of the cats. Still, it could fly short distances, but many times it was very near becoming a victim to pussy. We fed our visitor, and enticed it into a large lofty out-kitchen, used as bakehouse, &c.

In a few days our feathered friend became stronger, and during the whole of the severe weather seemed perfectly con. tented with its newly-acquired home, roosting on a ledge over the old-fashioned fireplace, and coming down to eat barley (we gave it) from the table. It escaped many dangers almost miraculously, e.g., once a cat climbed to our pigeon's roosting place, and was contemplating a spring forward, when I darted with a broom to the rescue.

After a while our pigeon got christened "Grace," and when the weather became warmer, it began a peculiar noise cooing I suppose-which was not very musical. At the beginning of last month, it acquired the habit of daily taking rather ambitious ranges over the surrounding country, leaving the kitchen immediately it was unlocked in the morning (6 a.ni. about), and returning about sunsetting time. We have since found that our feathered friend spent the day in the society of some pigeons at a farmhouse a quarter of a mile away, or more. Matters went on for some weeks in this way when to our astonishment and amusement we found that Grace (!) had been paying "his" addresses to a certain mem. ber of the above-mentioned pigeon community.

One morning last week "Grace" left the kitchen (oh, this

cat, she has climbed to my shoulder!) in the early morning, and about 9 a.m. appeared in the yard in company with his beautiful bride. And she is a beauty! It was most laughable to watch the twain. Mrs. Pigeon appeared intensely shy, and could not be persuaded by her other half for one moment to enter the kitchen, as he evidently wished. She rather preferred the roof of the barn, as being at a more safe distance from human beings. Several times she came very near the kitchen door, but soon flew back again. She was apparently very hungry (perhaps the marriage ceremony had been performed at an early hour that morning, and they had afterwards taken a wedding tour around the fields together), for when we threw down some bread for "Grace" (who feared nothing, and came near us in the most confidential manner, as much as to let his partner know that if she was afraid to come near us, he was not, and would just set her an example), he strutted roof of the barn, where his bride ate it in peace and safety. about, and finally carried pieces off again and again to the

futile, and "Grace" eventually came to that conclusion, for But all attempts to win her to enter the kitchen were in a few hours' time they both betook themselves away, to the original home of the lady pigeon, I presume. A pity she was so timid, for we had commenced building castles in the air, of the novelty of a colony of pigeons over the old kitchen fireplace.

We thought" Grace" would at this point forsake us, and take up his abode hence, but nothing of the kind was his intention. He appears to have made up his mind (and rightly) that so snug a home as we gave him ought not to be slighted, and for some days he regularly returned about 5.30 p.m. daily, leaving us again directly he could be let out in the morning. During the last few days he has put forth renewed earnest efforts to entice his mate into the old kitchen, and for hours together has sat on the old ledge and cooed away (a most monotonous noise it is), patiently and perseveringly, as though remembering the old adage, "Faint heart never won fair lady."

But nothing could persuade his friend to come indoors, and she would fly about, and sit outside on the roofs of places, &c., until "Grace" rejoined her. About 6 p.m. yesterday, I was down the fields and beheld-oh, sight of sights! -"Grace" escorting his "ladye love" to her parental home, ere they parted for the night! I watched them. As soon as they had reached the pigeon-boxes, "Grace" flew back again across the fields, and when I reached home, was there, sure enough, settled for the night over the old fireplace. I do not think the lady pigeon will ever leave her childhood's home, or "Grace" this one, though all the day-time is spent in each other's society. We wonder whether the two will be more sociable when a brood of little pigeons require attention.

E. E. A. (Warwickshire, S.E.)

A BRILLIANT METEOR.-At twenty minutes to eleven last night (Sunday, June 3rd), I observed a splendid meteor, or "shooting star," sweeping grandly across the heavens, from east to north. When first noticed, it was apparently rather larger than a star of the first magnitude, and of a pale yellow colour. It was not very high above the horizon, but exceedingly brilliant; and, gradually increasing in size until it seemed as large as an orange, threw off a long magnificent stream or tail of light, and sailed grandly along, until it was hidden from my view by the surrounding buildings.

S. W. M. (Lees, Lancs.)

[The same meteor was observed at Crouch End, north of London, about the time above mentioned. Its brilliancy was very great, but, according to our correspondent there, the light cast off was of a deep blue tint.-ED.]

HABITATION OF A FROG.-A young farmer, who is often engaged in the supervision of felling trees, relates the occasional observance of a curious sight, viz., the sudden appearance of a frog, on the prostration of a tree, embedded in the midst of the trunk, there being not the smallest opening visible to show its ingress.

JOSEPH R. SAUNDERS (Kingsbridge, Devon).

OUR ancestors, the monkeys, were not so ignorant after all. They were all educated in the higher branches.

"MARIA, I'm almost discouraged. How many times have I told you not to say tater, but pertater?"

SYDNEY SMITH once remarked that you find people ready enough to do the Samaritan, without the oil and twopence. THE interchange of birthday presents in many cases means the giving of something you can't afford in return for something you don't want.

SOME people are born to ill-luck. An old woman who has pasted nearly five thousand medical recipes in a book during the past forty years, has never been ill a day in her life, and she is growing discouraged.

THE dairymaid pensively milked the goat,
And pouting, she paused to mutter:

"I wish, you brute, you would turn to milk,"
And the animal turned to butt her.

"WAITER," said a young civil engineer, after vainly struggling with knife and fork for fully ten minutes on an alleged spring chicken, "bring me a chilled steel wedge and a heavy hammer, for I'm interested now, and am determined t see of what material this thing is made."

"WHEN I goes a-shopping," said an old lady, "I allers asks for what I wants, and if they have it, and it's suitable, and I feel inclined to take it, and it's cheap, and it can't be got at any other place for less, I almost allers takes it, without chaffering about it all day, as most people do."

"He says

"WHAT a man your father is !" exclaimed Mrs. Homespun, looking up from the letter she held in her hand. he has bought a French clock, and shall bring it home with him. What good will it be except as an ornament? None of us can tell the time by it, unless you can, Edith. You know something about French, don't ?" you

TALKING of Ireland, the old story of the nervous Englishman, who met a fierce-looking Irish giant with a cudgel in his hand, is rather apropos now. "Pray, where have you been?" asked the Englishman. "I went to Kilone," answered the Irishman. "And where are you going?" going to Kilmany." "And then ?" "I'll be going to Kil"Ay, and then ?" "Well, then, I'll go to Kilenall!" The Englishman ran away.

more."

66 I'm

THEODORE HOOK, being in compary where he said something humorous in rhyme to every perso present, on Mr. Winter, the late Solicitor of Taxes being announced, made the following impromptu :

"Here comes Mr. Winter, collector of taxes,

I advise you to give him whatever he axes; I advise you to give it without any flummery, For though his name's Winter his actions are summary." AN enterprising-looking countryman, with a creel full of fine trout, was standing in the doorway of a provincial railway-station. A passenger accosted him, and, after admiring the fish, remarked, "Going to take them home for supper, I "Not if I can help it," said the rustic. "There be a party of City gents as went fishing from here this mornin'; they will be back soon, and I'm just waitin' here to save their feelin's."

suppose ?"

An evening party was playing at what is called bouts rhymes; that is, each person in turn proposes a word, to which the rest are expected to find rhymes; the harder it is, of course, the more fun. All got on very well until one proposed porringer. There all of them stuck, until a young gentleman present gave the following neat solution of it :

"The second James a daughter had;
He gave the Prince of Orange her,

I think my verse is not so bad,

For that's my rhyme to porringer."

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"Tis a picture fair before me that might please an artist eye,
Castle dark, 'mid wood and meadow, 'neath the blue of summer
sky;
But I have no Turner's pencil, and I cannot paint the scene,
Yet I picture in my fancy many things which might have been.
All the present fades before me, floats the past before my eyes,
And I look on Lanley Castle in a long-forgotten guise.

In the large and spacious courtyard, that is now o'ergrown
with grass,
I can see the crowded daïs, and the flashing warriors pass,
Hear the blast upon the trumpets, and the tournament begin,
Watch in breathless, anxious longing for some champion brave

to win.

Now the loud applause comes ringing, as the triumph all complete,

The fair queen of Lanley Castle crowns the victor at her feet. On the ancient towers and turrets shines the grand old sun again,

And I join the ruffs and satins of a merry, laughing train, Heroes brave in heavy harness, fair Rowenas leave my sight: Now 'tis knights in silken armour, haughty dames on palfreys white,

'Mid the noise of hounds' loud barking, and the busy servants' shout,

Through the gates of Lanley Castle rides the hawking party

out.

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the moat,

From the little turret window I can see the entrance wide High above each massive tower far the royal banners float. Where the Lord of Lanley Castle marcheth forth in all his pride.

Now methinks the scene is altered. 'Tis the silent hour of night, When the broken walls are sleeping in a flood of silvery light, Stealing sadly 'mid the ruins is a lonely Cavalier, At the rustling branches starting, trembling oft in hope and fear,

In a long farewell he lingers, for ere morn his feet must roam, Never more can Lanley Castle be his proud ancestral home.

Thus I wonder what has happened in the strange and olden time,

Thus I form the grand old castle in the zenith of its prime; 'Twas a loved, a favourite pastime 'neath the grass-grown walls to stray:

Summer heat, or winter coldness, could not keep my feet away, Nor the tale of ghostly horror, which the gossips oft have told, For they say that Lanley Castle could a tragic scene unfold. Down some moss-grown steps and broken, you would reach a lonely grot,

Where the weeds are thickly growing-dark and dreary is the spot

O'er à stagnant pool the branches bend half-hidden from the

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Na fine summer day in 183-"She's turned over!" the spectators exclaimed, half-a-dozen boys were amusing almost breathless with fear for the fate of the brave themselves on the quay at Cardiff lads who had ventured to board her. And it was after the fashion of seaport lads true enough. There she lay, keel uppermost, in the all round the coast of Great middle of the river. Britain. They were daring boys, ready for anything in the way of fun or mischief, by land or water. Of the two elements, perhaps the latter was preferred, because it offered the best scope for adventure, and was never quite free from danger.

Cardiff was then a small town of only a few thousand inhabitants. Its trade with distant ports at that time was carried on almost entirely by small craft and vessels light enough to run into the canal basin at the sea-lock. Larger vessels were loaded from lighters as they lay out in the Penarth Roads. The famous docks which have so mightily increased the trade of the port since that day were not yet opened.

One of the chief trades of the town was that of lime-burning, and many a little skiff was employed in bringing limestone into the port from the neighbouring coast.

On the day in question it was rumoured among our boys that Old F.'s boat which he had been building at the quay was ready for launching. F.'s boat was intended for the lime trade, and was destined to run between Cardiff and Aberthaw. She was a little skiff, only about thirty tons burthen; but quite big enough to tax the skill and resources of Mr. F., a worthy Cardiffian, who was at once her architect, builder, and owner.

When the lads found that the vessel was indeed ready for launching, and that preparations were actually being made for the great event, they asked permission of the owner to go on board her and share the pleasure and excitement of the launch. This was soon granted by the good-natured boat-builder, who entertained no fear for the lads' safety, and took pleasure in affording them a treat.

Up the ladder they ran in high glee, and awaited the order to knock away the stays with as much patience as boys in such a position could be expected to display.

At last the word was given, and away went the hammers in good earnest. In a little while she began to move, but not quite to the satisfaction of the owner or of the eager lads on board, for she had been built sideways on to the quay, and her first movement was rather more of a heel over than a slide forward. However, the work went on in the hope that all would be right when once she felt the

water.

At last the cry came," Off she goes!" when, with a plunge and tilt, she took to the water. But the cry of joy from the quay is turned into a cry of horror!

The news soon spread along St. Mary's-street, and an eager throng quickly gathered to witness the strange and terrible sight; for a terrible sight it was to those who looked at the overturned vessel, and felt that underneath it six brave lads were imprisoned, and were, in all probability, finding a watery grave.

But while these fears were making the men turn pale, and the women scream or faint with fright, a boy's head appears above the water, and then another, and another, and another, and yet another. The lads swam like ducks, as most lads of that day in Cardiff could do, and soon reached the shore, and were conducted home by their rejoicing and grateful friends. But, when they came to be counted, one was missing! No sign of his head appears above the water; and there lies the vessel still, keel uppermost.

What is to be done? He is surely drowned!" An effort must be made at once to right the vessel. This operation did not take long, with so small and buoyant a craft as The Three Sisters. As soon as she was got to float properly it was found that Jim C- was not drowned after all; for there he sat, down at the bottom of the hold, "waiting the turn of affairs." Instead of diving under the bulwarks, like his companions, he had bethought him of the hatchway, and climbed up into the hold, "high," if not "dry," and had sat there in the hope that something would be sure to be done for his rescue. It. appears that on the vessel turning over the lads found themselves under a kind of diving-bell, with the deck of the vessel a foot or more above their heads. There they might have remained till she was righted, for the bulwarks were sufficiently high to leave the lads room to swim about. But with the exception of one of their number they preferred a dive and a swim to the chances of rescue by the righting of the vessel. In all cases the ability to swim was the means of saving life.

It is commonly said that young readers devour the tale and "skip the moral." Yet surely no boy, or girl, even, who reads this story will be unwilling to learn a lesson therefrom as to the importance of learning to swim. The ancient Persians used to say that "every boy should learn how to speak the truth and to ride a horse." Surely every English youth ought not to consider his education complete until he has learned both to speak the truth and to swim. The friend who tells me this story of forty years ago is, so far as he is aware, the only living representative of the ill-fated crew whose first trip in the little vessel came to so speedy and unfortunate an end.

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