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OLD HUMPHREY ON MITIGATIONS.
A GOOD and pleasant subject is a great advantage to an author. When he has to tell his reader unwelcome truths, and to oppose his opinions and his prejudices, it is sad up-hill work; but when, in a kind-hearted spirit, he hits on a subject in which he can take his reader with him, willing to be pleased or profited, it is like going down a gentle slope-all ease and effortless. Down such a slope would I now go, discoursing on the subject of mitigations.
The great lexicographer tells us that a mitigation is an “abatement of anything penal, harsh, or painful.” I shall apply the word as a reliever or lessener of the mental and bodily afflictions to which humanity is liable. A letter from a friend,* which now lies before me, has drawn my thoughts to this subject. Would that I could do it justice ! Would that I could comfort the hearts of a thousand afflicted ones, by opening their eyes to discern the manifold mitigations which surround them! One part of the letter runs thus :
“Since I have been a cripple, I have become
* The late Mr. W. F. Lloyd.
wondrously leg-wise, leg-considerate, and leg-sympathizing. This is one of the collateral advantages of lameness; but now for the mitigations. Old Humphrey must write a paper on this subject. I have derived much alleviation from acute pains from the electric chain. I get good spring-water, and take it freely at night; and twice in that season I take a cup of cocoa, having a fire in my bed-room all night. I have bought a pony phaeton, so that I can ride out daily and get fresh air. Now, if you cannot make a good paper on this subject, I shall think it your own fault, and perhaps give you an unmitigated admonition.”
Though my good friend has, in this part of his letter, confined himself to a few only of the things that minister to his comfort, in another part he alludes to other sources of relief, and among them to the kind hearts by which he is surrounded. So far from quailing at his conditional threat, I am hopefully looking forward to a ride with him in his pony phaeton, fearless of his “unmitigated admonition."
Rightly considered, the subject of mitigations is a very consolatory one. In the days of my childhood, I was once much interested in listening to the remarks of an American. “Our country," said he, " is much infested with poisonous reptiles, but we are not without our mitigations; for where rattlesnakes abound, rattlesnake herb grows, so that when
bitten by the snake we chew the herb and are healed.” This struck me at the time as a very merciful provision; but I need not pause to inquire into the truth of the allegation, having a much surer declaration in the Holy Scriptures of the merciful mitigations of our Heavenly Father : “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”—“He stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.”—“No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous : nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable • fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
Forty years ago I knew a friend who was then in the full possession of all her faculties. wedded to one of the worthy of the world, who, sometimes, when giving a lecture on geology to his friends, would playfully observe, in allusion to his partner, who was from Cornwall, that though the specimens of British gems on the table were not without their value, he had in his possession a Cornish diamond of much greater value than they all. When I called upon her a few weeks ago, I found her quite blind; but she was not without her mitigations. She had learned to read her Bible in raised letters with her finger; she was looking forward to a glorious abode, where the Lord would be her light, and her God her glory; and she sweetly observed to me, in a spirit of thankfulness, and not
of repining, “At my time of life, you know, this affliction cannot be a long one.” This is the way to meet our trials, to ameliorate our afflictions, to get all the comfort we can from our mitigations, and to make the best of our position.
Soon after this interview, I visited the chamber of one whom for five-and-thirty years I had known as a trusty and faithful domestic. Heavily afflicted with cancer, she was, as she believed, on the very verge of an eternal world, but she was not without her mitigations; she had kind friends and necessary comforts; she was perfectly resigned to the righteous will of her Heavenly Father, and looked alone, as a sinner, for salvation to the “ Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” I left her, saying to myself, " When the waves of Jordan rise around me, may my feet also be found on the Rock of Ages,' and my heart be fixed where alone true joys are to be found !"
It was but yesterday that an account was related to me, by an eye-witness, of an affecting interview between two females; the one being blind, and the other deaf and dumb. The latter was introduced to the former as one who had never heard a sound; neither music, nor the melody of birds, nor the voice of affection, nor the words of holy writ, had ever entered her ear. The blind listener to this account lifted up her hands in thankfulness and unfeigned sympathy, saying, “I have heard all
these sounds,” and then deeply bewailed the sorrows of her more afflicted sister. But now, she that was deaf and dumb, shaking with emotion, (for
eyes had been fixed on the lips of the blind speaker, reading the meaning of her words,) in her turn declared, with thankfulness, speaking with her fingers, that her affliction was not half so heavy as was supposed. “If,” said she, “I have heard no sounds, I have been mercifully kept from the evil and impurity of a deceitful tongue.” Thus did these afflicted ones diminish their trials by dwelling on their mitigations.
Being “born to trouble as the sparks fly upward,” afflictions must and will come to us all; it becomes us all, then, to look to our mitigations. I take it for granted, reader, that you have some open or secret cause of sorrow; some hope that you cannot attain; some fear that you cannot avoid; or some care that it is difficult to endure. My advice is, whether your affliction be a light one or a heavy one, the head-ache or the heart-ache, a fractured limb or a wounded spirit, a suffering body or a desponding soul, look to your mitigations. Be assured we are sadly overrating our burdens, and underrating our benefits, if we cannot say,
Though round us a shower of afflictions may fall,
The patriarch Job sets us an excellent example