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Sydney Carton's Text

Sydney Carton's Text

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY F. W. BOREHAM



Memory is the soul's best minister. Sydney Car-
ton found it so. On the greatest night of his life —
the night on which he resolved to lay down his life
for his friend — a text swept suddenly into his mind,
and, from that moment, it seemed to be written
everywhere. He was in Paris; the French Revolu-
tion was at its height; sixty-three shuddering vic-
tims had been borne that very day to the guillotine;
each day's toll was heavier than that of the day be-
fore; no man's life was safe. Among the prisoners
awaiting death in the Conciergerie was Charles
Darnay, the husband of her whom Sydney himself
had loved with so much devotion but so little hope.
BY F. W. BOREHAM



Memory is the soul's best minister. Sydney Car-
ton found it so. On the greatest night of his life —
the night on which he resolved to lay down his life
for his friend — a text swept suddenly into his mind,
and, from that moment, it seemed to be written
everywhere. He was in Paris; the French Revolu-
tion was at its height; sixty-three shuddering vic-
tims had been borne that very day to the guillotine;
each day's toll was heavier than that of the day be-
fore; no man's life was safe. Among the prisoners
awaiting death in the Conciergerie was Charles
Darnay, the husband of her whom Sydney himself
had loved with so much devotion but so little hope.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Aug 09, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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SYDEY CARTO'S TEXTBY F. W. BOREHAM Memory is the soul's best minister. Sydney Car- ton found it so. On the greatest night of his life — the night on which he resolved to lay down his life for his friend — a text swept suddenly into his mind, and, from that moment, it seemed to be written everywhere. He was in Paris; the French Revolu- tion was at its height; sixty-three shuddering vic- tims had been borne that very day to the guillotine; each day's toll was heavier than that of the day be- fore; no man's life was safe. Among the prisoners awaiting death in the Conciergerie was Charles Darnay, the husband of her whom Sydney himself had loved with so much devotion but so little hope. 'O Miss Manette,' he had said, on the only oc- casion on which he had revealed his passion, 'when, in the days to come, you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life to keep a life you love beside you!' And now that hour had come. It happened that Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton were, in form and feature, extraordinarily alike. Darnay was 45 46 A Handful of Stars doomed to die on the guillotine: Carton was free. For the first time in his wayward life, Sydney saw his course clearly before him. His years had been spent aimlessly, but now he set his face like a flint towards a definite goal. He stepped out into the moonlight, not recklessly or negligently, but 'with the settled manner of a tired man who had wan- dered and struggled and got lost, but who at length struck into his road and saw its end.' He would find some way of taking Darnay's place in the
 
gloomy prison ; he would, by his substitution, restore her husband to Lucy's side; he would make his life sublime at its close. His career should resemble a day that, fitful and overcast, ends at length in a glorious sunset. He would save his life by losing it! It was at that great moment that memory exer- cised its sacred ministry upon the soul of Sydney Carton. As he paced the silent streets, dark with heavy shadows, the moon and the clouds sailing high above him, he suddenly recalled the solemn and beautiful words which he had heard read at his father's grave : 7 am the Resurrection and the Life; he that helieveth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and helieveth in Me shall never die.' Sydney did not ask himself why the words had rushed upon him at that hour, although, as Dickens says, the reason was not far to seek. But he kept repeating them. And, when he stopped, the air seemed full of them. The great Sydney Carton's Text 47 words were written across the houses on either side of him; he looked up, and they were inscribed across the dark clouds and the clear sky; the very echoes of his footsteps reiterated them. When the sun rose, it seemed to strike those words — the burden of the night — straight and warm to his heart in its long bright rays. ight and day were both saying the same thing. He heard it everywhere: he saw it in everything — 7 am the Resurrection and the Life; he that be- lieveth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believe th in Me shall never die.' That was Sydney Carton's text. II It is a great thing — a very great thing — to be able to save those you love by dying for them. I
 
well remember sitting in my study at Hobart one evening, when there came a ring at the bell. A mo- ment later a man whom I knew intimately was shown in. I had seen him a few weeks earlier, yet, as I looked upon him that night, I could scarcely believe it was the same man. He seemed twenty years older; his hair was gray; his face furrowed and his back bent. I was staggered at the change. He sat down and burst into tears. 'Oh, my boy, my boy!' he sobbed. I let him take his time, and, when he had re- 4$ A Handful of Staxs gained his •self-possession, he told me of his son's great sin and shame. *I have mentioned this to nobody/ he said, 'but I could keep it to myself no longer. I knew that you would understand.' And then he broke down again. I can see him now as he sits there, rocking himself in his agony, and moaning: 'If only I could have died for him! If only I could have died for him !' But he couldn't! That was the torture of it! I remember how his heart-broken cry rang in my ears for days; and on the following Sunday there was only one subject on which I could preach. 'And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept; and as he went he cried: my son Absalom! my son, my son Ab- salom! Would God I had died for thee, Absalom, my son, my son!' It was the unutterable grief of David, and of my poor friend, that they could not save those they loved by dying for them. It was the joy of Sydney Carton that he could! He contrived to enter the Conciergerie ; made his way to Darnay's cell;

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