« НазадПродовжити »
lords were astounded. In Hawthorne's allegory of the Maypole at Merry Mount, the lord and lady of the May are abruptly overcome with a shadow of sadness, just when the minstrelsy of pipe, cittern, and viola is pealing forth in such a mirthful cadence that the boughs of the maypole quiver to the sound ; and just then too, as if a spell had loosened them, down comes a little shower of withering roseleaves from the maypole. There is sometimes, says Fielding, a little speck of black in the brightest and gayest colours of fortune, which contaminates and deadens the whole.
“ In every joy there lurks
An impulse of decay ;
While all without is gay :" —with silent speed, like the worm at Jonah's gourd. “Fleurs, vous aussi," so Béranger apostrophizes them,
... "vous avez vos souffrances.
Le ver est là ; le vent peut accourir." Le ver, as the worm prepared for Jonah's gourd ; le vent, as the vehement east wind to wither Jonah's strength.
" While blooming love assures us golden fruit,
Soon fall the flowers of joy.”
THE SPREADING GOURD AND THE SPEEDING
AS Elijah the Tishbite sat down in the wilderness under a A juniper-tree, heavy-hearted, and fleeing for his life from the grasp of Jezebel, yet requesting for himself that he might die ; as he said, “It is enough ; now, O Lord, take away my life,” yet anon found rest and refreshment under the juniper
tree, and did eat and drink, and lay down again, and went in the strength of that rest and that meat, forty days and forty nights, unto Horeb the mount of God; so Jonah the son of Amittai, displeased exceedingly, and very angry, prayed in bitterness the same prayer, “O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me ; for it is better for me to die than to live.” Did he well to be angry? Did Elijah well to despair ? Under a juniper-tree Elijah recovered strength, took heart, and became of good courage. For Jonah there was preparing a gourd. A gourd ; and a worm to make short work of the gourd.
Jonah left the city in wrath, and made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city—the city which he had doomed and God had spared. Under the burning sun he awaited the judgment of Nineveh. “And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over. Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.
“But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.”
And when the sun arose, there arose too another thing of God's preparing. As He had prepared the gourd, and prepared the worm to smite the gourd, so, at sunrise, “God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die.” And not only so, but again expressed the wish, with the old bitterness and even increasing wrath. Did he well to be angry for the gourd ? “I do well to be angry, even unto death,” he exclaimed. The gourd was so gladdening a creation, it made even that morose spirit exceeding glad. But scarcely had he time to congratulate himself on this relief, in complacent assurance of its continuance, when the sheltering gourd was eaten to the heart by a speeding worm, and what came up in a night, perished in a night; and this also was vanity, vanity and vexation of spirit.
A perverse fate seems to lie in wait for man,
“And though he in a fertile climate dwell,
Plague him with flies : though that his joy be joy,
Yet throw such charges of vexation on't,
As it may lose some colour.” In the words of another of Shakspeare's dramas, “joy cannot show itself modest enough without a badge of bitterness.” Inter delicias semper aliquid sævi nos strangulat, says the Latin adage ; the aliquid sævi answering to the aliquid amari of Lucretius, quod in ipsis floribus angat ; or again to the aliquid solliciti of Ovid,
. “Nulla est sincera voluptas;
Sollicitique aliquid lætis intervenit.” Why, Byron asks himself, in his diary (at Ravenna), why, at the very height of desire and human pleasure, does there mingle a certain sense of doubt and sorrow—a fear of what is to come-a doubt of what is-a retrospect of the past, leading to a prognostication of the future? Mrs. Browning has penned a suggestive sonnet to which the title is superscribed of Pain in Pleasure:
“A thought lay like a flower upon my heart,
And drew around it other thoughts like bees
And they will all prove sad enough to sting.”
“Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud;
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud," and every gourd has its worm. So again Cowper :
“Here every drop of honey hides a sting ;
Worms wind themselves into our sweetest flowers.”
On the same text moralizes the meditative sire of the Cid, in Corneille's tragedy :
“Jamais nous ne goûtons de parfaite allégresse :
Semper amari aliquid. It is like Johnson's reflections on his first transports at Ranelagh. When first he entered those festive gardens, it gave, he tells Boswell, an expansion and gay sensation to his mind, such as he never experienced anywhere else. But, as Xerxes wept when he reviewed his immense army, and considered that not one of that great multitude would be alive a hundred years afterwards, so it went to the doctor's heart to consider that there was not one in all that brilliant circle but was afraid to go home and think ; that “the thoughts of each individual there would be distressing when alone.” Boswell approves the reflection as “ experimentally just,” and appends a commonplace of his own, upon the feeling of langour, which succeeds the animation of gaiety, being itself a very severe pain.
It was in the mid hey-day of military triumph that Paulus Æmilius astonished his encircling admirers by, first, a prolonged silence, and next, a sombre homily on the vicissitudes of fortune, and of human affairs. What time for confidence can there be to man, he asked, when in the very instant of victory he must necessarily dread the power of fortune, and the very joy of success must be mingled with anxiety—aliquid solliciti—from a reflection on the course of unsparing fate, which humbles one man to-day, and to-morrow another! Gladdening is the gourd, with its pleasant promise of protection against the arrow that flieth by day from a burning sun ; but only him can it make, like Jonah, exceeding glad, who knows not, or makes a point of forgetting, what a worm can do, between a setting and a rising sun.
The night thoughts of man in general are one with the Night Thoughts of Young in particular, when he exclaims,
“How sad a sight is human happiness
To those whose thoughts can pierce beyond an hour !
Thy pleasure is the promise of thy pain.” This is the state of man, by the experience of Shakspeare's Wolsey: to-day he puts forth the tender leaves of hope ; tomorrow blossoms, and bears his blushing honours thick upon him. He is exceeding glad, even as the prophet of his gourd ; but a worm is preparing, or if not, a frost; and next day, or at latest
“ The third day, comes a frost, a killing frost ;
And, -when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
And then he falls." The worm may speed in its mission, or otherwise ; but the fulfilment of its mission is only a question of time. There is a
... "little rift within the lute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.
That rotting onward slowly moulders all.” Slowly, sometimes, but surely. Not so slowly as surely.
Remembering both the “foolish pride” of Jonah in his gourd, and his “impious discontentment” at the decree which smote it, which of us but might, for ourselves, do worse than adopt the words and the spirit of one verse at least of Pope's Universal Prayer,
“ Save me alike from foolish pride
And impious discontent
Or aught Thy bounty lent."