« НазадПродовжити »
lengthening chain. Thenceforth for him existence was empty and colourless; it had lost for him its brightest sheen, its sweetest perfume; the wine of life was on the lees.
Tous mes liens sont rompus, was the cry of Fénelon, when the fatal news reached him of his royal pupil's death; rien ne m'attache plus d la terre. It was the death of his wife that led to John Howard's betaking himself to active pursuits, and forswearing the seclusion of Cardington, for he had lost all interest in his home and its occupations. The grief of M. Roland, when apprised of his wife's execution, “knew no bounds; to live without her was impossible"; and at once he took effective measures to prove the impossibility. It is not what would have been predicated of that grave, solid, almost (in seeming) stolid ex-minister, whose philosophy of life and death had hitherto appeared so out of keeping with such an end. But philosophy has many a time failed the philosopher at a pinch. Philip van Artevelde is no anomaly in this respect. Van Ryk makes bold to tell the bereaved Regent of Flanders
“If I might speak, my lord, my humble mind,
You have not, since my honoured lady's death,
As you were wont to say that all men should. Artev. That was a loss, Van Ryk ; that was a loss.” Addison expatiates tenderly on the melancholy state of one who has such a part of himself torn from him, and which he misses in every circumstance of life ; his condition resembling that of one who has lately lost his right arm, and is every
1 To Perthes, bending beneath such another blow, life looked empty and desolate. All that he had done and planned had for four-and-twenty years been solely in reference to his Caroline. “She never knew, at least in full, how dependent I was on her. . . . . But now all this is over, I am no longer bound, I can do what I will, and next to the yearning after her I am most oppressed in my solitude by the consciousness of freedom.” But Frederick Perthes was not the man to foster unavailing regrets, still less to harbour a spirit of repining. And worthy of all acceptation are the words of Madame Guizot : "On ne succombe au regret que lorsqu'il n'existe plus aucun sentiment capable de vous en distraire; et celui qui perd ce qu'il aime le mieux n'en mourra point, s'il aime encore quelque chose.”
moment essaying to help himself with it.1 And one of the
Others of comely face and life, others as chaste and warm there are ;
mine.'” Be the kinship what it may, bereavement indeed is felt when the one taken away was thus felt to be the bereaved one's very
1“ He does not appear to himself the same person in his house, at his table, in company, or in retirement; and loses the relish of all the pleasures that were before entertaining to him by her participation in them. The most agreeable objects recal the sorrow for her with whom he used to enjoy them.”—The Tatler, cxiv.
2 Lord Lytton's bereaved vicar and scholar, whose prudent genius is gone from the household, wearily pauses over his folios, and looks out on the silent garden, feeling that he would give with joy all that Athens produced, from Æschylus to Plato, to hear again from the old familiar lips the lament on torn jackets, or the statistical economy of eggs.
own. Mary Marchmont, in the story of a legacy, finds so sudden and terrible a break in her existence at her father's death, that she can scarce believe the world has not come to an end, with all the joys and sorrows of its inhabitants. As the German poet Hermann Ling, on the loss of his mother, sadly sings,
“Now thou art gone the earth appears
No more the earth of other years, 1
Its light and life are dead to me, too." Yolande's grief for Grand’mère, in the closing chapter of the Huguenot Family, is brought out with force and feeling. She shivers in her loneliness, and shrinks in her mutilation. “Yolande needed every solace to bring her back to life, for was she not bereft indeed ?” It belonged to her nature that in the comparative negation of a French girl's personality, she had been bound up in Grandmère, that she had lived a dual and not a single life, that in almost everything she had been “associated and identified with the noble and sweet old woman who was gone to kindred spirits.” Accordingly she
1 This is the tritest of experiences in bereavement. Henriette von Willich, in a letter to Schleiermacher on the loss of her Ehrenfried, ends with saying: “ It is a lovely summer evening. A little girl told me that her mother was lying under the mound in the churchyard. I went aside and wept bitterly at the thought that he also lies there, he who was everything to me; and at the thought that I can enjoy nothing now with a light heart, not even a lovely summer's-day.” Sir Fowell Buxton fondly dwells in his diary on the remembrance of his bright boy Harry standing with him on the Warren hills, where now the father stood alone. “Nature seemed as if she had not changed ... but now I could see nothing but the churchyard where his bones repose. Dear fellow ! how large a portion of my hope and joy lies there : how has the world changed with me since that joyous hour!” So with Mrs. Richard Trench, more fervidly dilating on a similar distress : “All nature is bright, vivid, animated; he pale, cold, and silent, ‘in his narrow cell for ever laid,' and with him his mother's highest joy and fairest hopes. ... A fine prospect now reminds me that he who took such early delight in the beauties of nature is no longer here to give me a reflected pleasure.”
Mr. Longfellow tells us of the hero of his Hyperion, bereaved indeed, that when, after a season, he looked up again from the blindness of his sorrow, all things seemed unreal ; like the man whose sight had been restored by miracle, he beheld men as trees walking. And the trees themselves, where were they? What had become, in summer tide, of their green leaves ? Nothing could bring back the hour of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower.
now could not help feeling as if part of her nature was at once buried in the earth and flown to the skies," as if there was a yawning chasm always open before her feet, with the blue distance of the future a complete blank.” Earnest pathos inspires the words of Aurora Leigh in her utter orphanhood :
“ Who loves me? Dearest father, mother sweet,
I speak the names out sometimes by myself,
Through sudden ignorance of a common speech." The note, call it of interrogation or of exclamation, is repeated, or musically varied, in one of Mrs. Browning's sonnets :
- When some beloved voice that was to you
Both sound and sweetness, faileth suddenly,
1 The sonnet leaves not the question unanswered. Unavailing for the purpose is friendship's sigh, it allows; unavailing the subtleties of reasoning, the melody of viols, the songs of poets or of nightingales. None of these can undo that mortal silence, “nor yet the spheric laws self chanted, nor the angels' sweet All-hail, rich in the smile of God.
Nay, none of these.
NAAMAN IN THE HOUSE OF RIMMON.
2 KINGS v. 18. CONVINCED by a miraculous cure that Abana and
Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, were not better, as cleansing powers, than all the waters of Israel ; convinced, by the effect of dipping seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God, that there was no god in all the earth but in Israel; Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, a great man with his master and honourable, a mighty man in valour, and no longer a leper (for after that simple sevenfold baptism in Jordan his flesh had come again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean); Naaman was now determined to offer henceforth neither burnt-offerings nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord alone. Nevertheless, was not Naaman under obligations to the king of Syria, and did not his official relations with his master involve him in implied acts of idol worship, unless he renounced his allegiance altogether? What was he to do? He could not face the alternative of forswearing the service of either master-his earthly one of old, who had been so kind and trusting, or his new and Divine One in heaven. Could he not cleave to the one without offending the other ? He hoped so, believed so, and would act on that hope and that belief. “In this thing," said he to Elisha, “ the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon; when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing." And what says the prophet in reply? Nothing but “Go in peace.” What that may definitely or indefinitely have implied is a vexed, or at the least an open question. To all practical purposes the casuistry of the case is left undetermined. And so be it left here. Not to vex a vexed question, but casually to illustrate it by stray side-lights, and to glance here and there, as it were, at some sort of collateral issues, is the being's end and aim of these discursive aids and appliances of annotation,