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We offer back our return for the debt of affectionate devotion, by what Colonel Esmond calls a poor tardy payment of tears. “Then forgotten tones of love recur to us, and kind glances shine out of the past—oh so bright and clear !-oh, so longed after !_because they are out of reach, as holiday music from within side a prison wall—or sunshine seen through the bars, more prized because unattainable, more bright because of the contrast of present darkness and solitude, whence there is no escape."
" Thou air! which breathing we do scarce perceive,
And think it little to enjoy the light;
Darkly thou showest in the expanse of night.” In passing to and fro in your native land, says an eloquent exile of long standing, you are apt to imagine that the streets are an object of indifference, that the windows, the roofs, the gateways, are nothing to you, the pavement you 'tread mere stone. Later, when you are there no longer, you discover that those streets are dear to you, you feel the want of those roofs, those windows, those doors; “in a word, you have left part of your affections, part of your heart, part of yourself, on those flagstones. The scenes you see no longer, perhaps will never see again, but whose image you cherish, come back to you with the sadness of a ghost, become to you another Holy Land.”
Mrs. Stowe's Marie is sketched off as “one of those unfortunately constituted mortals,” in whose eyes whatever is lost and gone assumes a value which it never had in possession. “Whatever she had, she seemed to survey only to pick flaws in it; but once fairly away, there was no end to her valuation of it.” Not too common is the right to say, and the power to say, with Madame de Sévigné, in pleasant retrospect of pleasures past, “Je n'ai pas au moins le déplaisir de n'avoir pas senti mon bonheur; c'est un reproche que je ne me ferai point; mais," she adds,—there is ever a but in one's lot—"par cette raison, je sens bien vivement le contraire d'un état si heureux." Shenstone's stanza, affirming how truly once and with reason he prized every hour that went by,—but now they were gone, and he sighed and was grieved that he prized them no more,-may have been in Johnson's mind when, nearing his end, he wrote to an old friend, who had given him some cause for the reproach, that to let friendship die away by negligence and silence is certainly not wise. “It is voluntarily to throw away one of the greatest comforts of this weary pilgrimage, of which [comfort] when it is, as it must be, taken finally away, he that travels on alone will wonder how his esteem could be so little.” For, as Cowper words it,
1 Possession, as an old writer puts it, drowns, or at least mightily cools contentment. “Want teaches us the worth of things more truly. How sweet a thing seems liberty, to one immured in a dungeon! How dear a jewel is health to him who is in sickness! I have known many who loved their dead friends better than ever they esteemed them in their lifetime. · · When we have lost a benefit, the mind has time to reflect on its several advantages, which she then finds to be many more than she was aware of, while in possession of it. It is a true remark, that blessings appear not till they have vanished.”—Feltham, Resolves i Of our Sense of Absent Good.
“.... Not to understand a treasure's worth
Till time has stolen away the slighted good,
1 Mr. Charles Reade submits as a perhaps, a may be, peut-être, that no man is good, manly, tender, generous, and unlucky quite in vain ; that at last, when such a man is leaving all who have been unjust or cold to him, scales fall from their eyes, a sense of his value flashes like lightning across their half empty skulls and tepid hearts, and they feel and express some respect and regret.
Lord Macaulay says of the great French general, Luxemburg, who had never been a favourite at the French court, that when it was known that his feeble frame, exhausted by war and pleasure, was sinking under a dangerous disease, “the value of his services was, for the first time, fully appreciated”; and strenuous efforts were made to save him.
* M. Guizot speaks, as he has the right, of the “ faithful heirs " left by M. Casimir Périer: “But no sooner,” he adds, “was M. Périer dead, than the weight of the inheritance began to be felt, and the want of his presence as its guardian. It is a common remark that the place occupied by any one is not fully estimated until it is empty”; and the vacancy in question was of a kind to enforce the truism, that the void is more severely felt when the necessity of acting presents itself at the precise moment when the great actor has ceased to exist.
But love, that comes too late, is likened by the wise king of France, in Shakspeare, to a remorseful pardon slowly carried, —crying, “ That's good that's gone”: thus our rash faults
“Make trivial price of serious things we have,
Not knowing them until we know their grave."
A MEMORIAL COAT OF MANY COLOURS.
Genesis xxvii. 33, 34. T ITTLE thought Israel when he made for Joseph, whom
L he loved more than all his children because he was the son of his old age, a coat of many colours, with what a pang he should one day eye that memorial of his love, a memorial of his loss. One colour too many there was then, among the many colours,—that of blood. The old man was keenly susceptible to the significance of outward and visible signs. Thus, when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent from Egypt to carry him thither, the spirit of Jacob revived, and he said, “ It is enough : Joseph, my son, is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.” The sight of the wagons did at once what all the reports and assurances of his sons failed to do. Israel's heart fainted at the talk of Joseph's brethren, for he believed them not; but at the sight of Joseph's wagons it revived. The sight of the blood-stained coat of many colours was alike convincing, to a sadder conclusion. At once the old man accepted it as a voucher of his boy's cruel death. “And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat : an evil beast hath devoured him ; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces." If bereaved of his children, Jacob was bereaved indeed; and of bereavement, that vesture dyed with blood was to him a fatal assurance doubly sure. So he rent his own clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his Joseph many many days. And though all his sons and all his daughters together rose up to comfort him, Israel refused to be comforted, and said, “For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourn. ing.” Thus his father wept for him ; and we may be sure that every sight of the dyed raiment embittered and intensified his sense of a great loss.
As with the wailing woe of an inconsolable mother in Shakspeare, whose answer to the reproach of a cardinal, “ You hold too heinous a respect of grief”; and to the remonstrance of a king, “You are as fond of grief as of your child,” is,
“ Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me;
Then have I reason to be fond of grief.” A French prose poet, the foremost of his class, cannot conceive anything in the world more delightful than the ideas awakened in the heart of a mother at the sight of her child's little shoe, especially if it be a holiday, a Sunday, a baptismal shoe, upon which the infant has never stepped. If the infant be absent, the pretty shoe is sufficient to set that doux et tendre être before the mother's eyes. She fancies she sees it, she does see it, all alive, all joyous; crawling upon the carpet in winter, creeping about the garden in summer ; seeming to make the very breezes fresher, the very sunshine brighter. “All this the little shoe sets before the mother, and it makes her heart melt like wax before the fire.
“But when the child is lost, these thousand images of joy, delight, and affection, which crowd around the little shoe, are transformed into as many frightful things. The pretty little embroidered shoe becomes then but an instrument of torture, which is incessantly racking the heart of the mother."
No one, says Chateaubriand, another prose poet of an elder school in France, no one can know what desolation of heart really is until he has been left to wander alone in places once inhabited by a being who then was their supreme charm and endearment : "everything that she has worn or touched repro
duces her image.” As with the forecast shadow of a wife's death to the husband in Dr. Holland's poem :
“Her wardrobe ! You remember when she wore
That lavender ?-a very pretty silk!
Well, close the door.” The poor artisan, in the Waterdale Neighbours, can look almost stoically on the corpse of his wife; he is scarcely reminded of his wife by the white lank cheeks of that dead woman in his little room (no longer their little room). But there hangs behind the door a frayed and faded old gown, and that, or the stuff that made it, he bought himself-only the other day it seems. “So when he saw this poor old empty gown, this ghost of a garment, he knew it, and he remembered all; and with a great burst of agony he succumbed to the reality of his position, and sobbed aloud.” In Mr. Coventry Patmore's tracing of a like loss :
“Her worst gown 's kept ('t is now the best,
As that in which she oftenest dressed),
Than she herself was for her own.” In one of Mrs. Gore's multitudinous fictions, well-nigh all out of date, out of sight, out of mind now, “Look here,” says the housekeeper at the vicarage, opening the door of a little vestibule that leads to the garden, and pointing to a bonnet and shawl hanging up, which the visitor recognises from having hundreds of times met “poor Mrs. Markham” arrayed in them, when fulfilling her errands of charity to the village : “ Master won't hear of these being took down, ma'am, though it goes to everybody's heart to see 'em. I got up betimes one morning, before he was astir, and moved 'em, and thought he'd never miss 'em. Bless you, as he came through the hall to read morning prayers, he saw at a glance they were gone, and knew nobody'd dare to touch 'em but me. Smith,' said he,