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happened that Mason received this little billet at almost the precise moment when it would be most affecting.
Horace Walpole, again, writes to an afflicted correspondent, -“I say no more, for time only, not words, can soften such afflictions, nor can any consolations be suggested, that do not more immediately occur to the persons afflicted. To moralize can comfort those only who do not want to be comforted.” So Marcia replies to Lucia, in Addison's tragedy:
“Lucia. What can I think or say to give thee comfort ?
Marcia. Talk not of comfort, 'tis for lighter ills.” Words are words, says Shakspeare's Brabantio, and never yet heard he that the bruised heart was relieved through the ear. When, towards the close of Campbell's metrical tale of fair Wyoming, on Susquehanna's side, "prone to the dust, afflicted Waldegrave hid his face on earth, him watched, in gloomy ruth, his woodland guide ; but words had none to soothe the grief that knows not consolation's name." But the Oneyda chief was not on that account Waldegrave's least efficient comforter. What though others around him, less reticent, and more demonstrative, found utterance easy, and shaped their kind common-place meaning into kind common-place words? “Of them that stood encircling his despair, he heard some friendly words, but knew not what they were.” Wisehearted, too, was Southey's young Arabian, in watching silently the frantic grief of the newly childless old diviner : in pitying silence Thalaba stood by, and gazed, and listened : “not with the officious hand of consolation, fretting the sore wound he could not hope to heal.” It has been called the last triumph of affection and magnanimity, when a loving heart can respect the suffering silence of its beloved, and allow that lonely liberty in which alone some natures can find comfort. A late author portrayed in one of his tales a dull, common-place fellow enough, of limited intellect and attainments, whose, however, was one of those kind and honest natures fortunately endowed with subtle powers of perception that lie deeper than the head. Accordingly he is described, in the capacity of an unofficious condoler, as appreciating perfectly the grief of his friend; at his side throughout the day, but never obtruding himself, never attempting jarring platitudes of condolence: “in a word he fully understood the deep and beautiful sympathy of silence.” So with Adela and Caroline in The Bertrams,-interchanging those pressures of the hand, those mute marks of fellow-feeling, “ which we all know so well how to give when we long to lighten the sorrows which are too deep to be probed by words.” But though we all may know so well how to give these mute marks, we do not all and always practice what we know. 'Tis true, 'tis pity ; pity 'tis 'tis true.
Adam Bede's outburst of maddened feelings, uttered in tones of appealing anguish, when the loss of Hetty is first made clear to him, is noted in silence by the discreet rector, who is too wise to utter soothing words at present, as he watches in Adam that look of sudden age which sometimes comes over a young face in moments of terrible emotion. As Bartle Massey elsewhere describes this silent sympathizer, “ Ay, he's good metal; ... says no more than's needful. He's not one of those that think they can comfort you with chattering, as if folks who stand by and look on knew a deal better what the trouble was than those who have to bear it.”
Madame de Sévigné frankly deposes of her capacity as regards wordy consolation : “ Pour moi, je ne sais point de paroles dans une telle occasion.” Mr. Tennyson submits what is applicable to any telle occasion,
“ That only silence suiteth best.
Grief more. 'Twere better I should cease.” Miss Procter sings the praises of a true comforter in little Effie,—“just I think that she does not try,—only looks with a wistful wonder why grown people should ever cry.” It is such a comfort to be able to cry in peace, adds that sweet singer (with larmes dans la voix) :
“ And my comforter knows a lesson
Wiser, truer than all the rest :
Love and silence are always best.”
PAGE CO-OPERANT UNITS . . . . . . . . . 348
EPHESIANS iv. 16.
I CORINTHIANS xii. 22.
PROVERBS XV. I.
ECCLESIASTES vi. 6.
DEUTERONOMY xxviii. 36, 37.
PROVERBS xx. 14.
HOSEA vii. 9.
PROVERBS xvi. 32.
HOSEA vi. 3. EARS TO HEAR.
. . . . . . . . 386 ST. LUKE viii. 8. Not ALONE IN THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS . . . . . 389
PSALM xxiii. 4.
· · · 372 ... 376
FELLOWSHIP IN ACHAN'S FALL.
JOSHUA xxii. 20. W H EN Achan the son of Zerah committed a trespass in
V the accursed thing, wrath fell not alone upon Achan, but upon all the congregation of Israel; “and that man perished not alone in his iniquity.” The text is one to arrest the thoughtless, and to suggest even to the most thoughtful matter for very serious consideration.
“Should one man sin, and would God be wroth with all the congregation ?” That deprecatory question had been put twenty years before Achan's trespass, by the congregation of Israel, in the matter of Korah, when they fell upon their faces and pleaded with God, the God of the spirits of all flesh. And some centuries later the confession of King David in time of pestilence took this form : that he had sinned and done wickedly ; but those sheep—those subjects of his, involved in the penalty of his transgression, and dying off like sheep in a flock to the right and left of him, seventy thousand of them from morning to evening, from Dan even to Beersheba,what had they done?
If, indeed, says Dr. South, a man could be wicked and a villain to himself alone, the mischief would be so much the more tolerable. But the case, as he goes on to show, is much otherwise : the guilt of the crime lights upon one, but the example of it sways a multitude ; especially if the criminal be of any note or eminence in the world. “For the fall of such a one by any temptation (be it never so plausible) is like that
THE TEMPTER'S “IT IS WRITTEN.”
MATTHEW iv. 6. “IT is written,” said the Tempter, quoting Scripture for
T his purpose, when it was his hour and the power of darkness, in the day of temptation in the wilderness. The quotation was refuted on the spot, and the Tempter was foiled. But his failure has not deterred mankind, at sundry times and in divers manners, from venturing on the same appeal, with no very unlike design. The wise as serpents (there was a serpent in Eden) who are not also harmless as doves, have now and then essayed to round a sophistic period, or clench an immoral argument, with an It is written.
Among the crowd of pilgrims who throng the pages of his allegory, Bunyan depicts one Mr. Selfwill, who holds that a man may follow the vices as well as the virtues of pilgrims; and that if he does both, he shall certainly be saved. But what ground has he for so saying ? is Mr. Greatheart's query. And old Mr. Honesty replies, “Why, he said he had Scripture for his warrant.” He could cite David's practice in one bad direction, and Sarah's lying in another, and Jacob's dissimulation in a third. And what they did, he might do too. “I have heard him plead for it, bring Scripture for it, bring arguments for it,” etc., quoth old Honesty with a degree of indignation that does credit to his name.
6. The devil can quote Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul, producing holy witness,
A goodly apple rotten at the core.” Such is Antonio's stricture on Shylock's appeal to Jacob's practice, “When Jacob grazed his uncle Laban's sheep”; and there is a parallel passage in the next act, where Bassanio is the speaker :