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succeeded : on le craignait et on faisait place devant lui. As with a contemporary's
“ Pomposo, insolent and loud,
Vain idol of a scribbling crowd,
Montesquieu, in his Lettres Persanes, speaks of one of those personages au ton tranchant et absolu, still well enough and too well known amongst us, who in a quarter of an hour decided domineeringly on three questions in ethics, four historical problems, and five propositions in physics. “Je n'ai jamais vu un décisionnaire si universel.” Rousseau was yet more impatient than Montesquieu of such dominating forces. Even Diderot “revolted” him, when bent on governing him like a child, and influencing him like an oracle-Denis forsooth, the junior of Jean Jacques. But who does not love to rule, be it over a genius or a dolt? It must be acknowledged of Lady Lufton, owns her author, " that with all her good qualities she was inclined to be masterful. She liked to rule, and she made people feel that she liked it.” Superior persons stickle for superiority.
“Lord Henry also liked to be superior,
SORROW UPON SORROW.
PHILIPPIANS ii. 27. CORROW upon sorrow is so often God's dispensation that w on its assumed frequency is founded the adage Misfortunes never come single. St. Paul thankfully records an exception in the instance of a sick friend's recovery. Himself in bonds at Rome, his brother and companion in labour, Epaphroditus, who ministered to his wants, and whom he styles his fellow soldier, as he was the messenger between St. Paul and the Philippians, the apostle of the apostle, had been sick nigh unto death ; “but God had mercy on him, and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow."
Baruch's lament, for the son of Neriah like Jeremiah the prophet had his lamentations, is, “Woe is me now! for the Lord hath added grief to my sorrow.” For some even of His servants He stayeth not His rough wind in the day of the east wind.
There was a day when messenger after messenger came to Job, each with his several tale of disaster, each with his special tidings of affliction. While he was yet speaking that brought word of the raid of Sabeans, he that alone survived to tell of it, there came also another to report the ravages of fire of God fallen from heaven, and he alone left alive to tell of it; and while this second unwelcome newsbringer was yet gasping out his story, there came also a third to tell of slaughter by the Chaldeans so unsparing that he alone remained to announce it; and while the third courier was yet hurrying forth his fatal words, there came also another with the worst tidings of all, even the extinction at one ruinous blast of the patriarch's house, in either or every sense of the term. Sorrow upon sorrow. “He breaketh me with breach upon breach ; He runneth upon me like a giant !” exclaimed the man of Uz in the day when he sat among the ashes, and the sorrows of his heart were enlarged, and he looked in vain, it seemed, for one to bring him out of his distresses.
" Woes cluster ; rare are solitary woes ;
They love a train, they tread each other's heel.” Benedetto è quel male, che vien solo, is the Italians' benediction on a solitary woe, and another proverb of theirs calls one misfortune the vigil of another, while yet another and maliciously suggestive one says that a misfortune and a friar are seldom alone-un male ed un Frate di rado soli. Canon Kingsley expatiates on the verity of what he calls the “popular antithet” that misfortunes never come single; that in most human lives there are periods of trouble, blow following blow, wave following wave, from opposite and unexpected quarters, with no natural or logical sequence, till all God's billows have gone over the soul. “Heavens,” exclaims Shakspeare's Cymbeline,
“How deeply you at once do touch me! Imogen,
The great part of my comfort, gone; my queen
The hope of comfort.” Nor is Benvolio's smart remedy always available in its smartness :
“ Tut, man! one fire burns out another's burning,
One pain is lessened by another's anguish;
One desperate grief cures with another's languish.” He jests at scars that never felt a wound, and he can prescribe glibly for a confluence of complaints who himself is free from a single one. But such a prescription might authorise such a retort as, applying it from Le Cid with a difference,
“Est-ce trop peu pour vous que d'un coup de malheur ?
Faut-il perte sur perte, et douleur sur douleur ? Not but what there is sound philosophy in Benvolio's doctrine, if rightly enforced. We read of one overtaken by plural, or at the least by dual misfortunes, in the story of Yeast,—who is described as utterly beside himself with grief, shame, terror, and astonishment, that “on the whole the sorrow was a real comfort to him ; it gave him something beside his bankruptcy to think
of; and, distracted between the two different griefs, he could brood over neither.” Scott opens a chapter of one of his earlier books with a recognition of the one advantage there is in an accumulation of evils differing in cause and character, namely, that the distraction which they afford by their contradictory operation prevents the patient from being overwhelmed under either. “Man can give but a certain portion of distressful emotions to the causes which demand them; and if two operate at once, our sympathy, like the funds of a compounding bankrupt, can only be divided between them.” Caleb Williams records it as a part of the singularity of his fate, that it hurried him from one species of anxiety and distress to another too rapidly to suffer any one of them to sink deeply into his mind; and he expresses his belief, in the retrospect, that half the calamities he was destined to endure would infallibly have overwhelmed and destroyed him. “But as it was, I had no leisure to chew the cud under misfortunes as they befel me, but was under the necessity of forgetting them, to guard against peril that the next moment seemed ready to crush me.” Southey was apt to say that if it were true that misfortunes never come singly it would be a merciful dispensation of them. “I at least should choose (if there were the power of choosing) to have my sorrows come thick and threefold, and my pleasures one by one; to drink of misery at a draught, however deep the bowl, but to sip of enjoyment, and taste its full flavour in every glass.” Writing to a friend in 1829 about two arrivals of bad news by the same post, he asserts his belief that each would have weighed more heavily upon his spirits had it come separately than both did together. “Better a disturbed grief than a settled one.” Mrs. Riddell thinks the vagaries of trouble the strangest things in this strange world; the way in which the cup of happiness is dashed from one, the way in which the cup of sorrow is filled, dribble by dribble, for another; grief lying in wait here, there seeming to try the experiment of how much humanity can bear; swooping into one house with some tremendous sorrow, into another creeping little by little, bringing now one ill, now another, till it has “accumulated the pyramid of misfortune to a satisfactory height.” A French poet cries:
“ Au lieu de les laisser l’un sur l'autre descendre
Si pesant à mon coeur,
Tous ces jours de malheurs !!! Montaigne speaks of himself as assailed in detail by a thousand ills that come à la file, and that he could have faced with a lighter heart d la foule, that is to say, all at once. But 'tis well we have no option.
6. We know not the amount of misery
The heart can bear, when, one by one, the ills
And leaving the poor victim powerless.” Almost every man's existence, says Hood, affords some dark building spot for the foundation, some period of accumulative inflictions, swelling each after the other like the inky waves, with a storm in the distance.
“As if calamity had just begun;
As if the vanward clouds of evil days
Was with its stored thunder labouring up.” Benvenuto Cellini begins a chapter in the third book of his personal memoirs with the remark that when once adverse fortune, or “the influence of our ill stars, if that expression seem more proper,” begins to persecute a man, it is never at a loss for means to distress him. “When I thought I had got clear of one troublesome and dangerous affair, and flattered myself that my evil genius would leave me at rest for a while, I was involved again in most perplexing troubles.” If Mr. Dickens quotes the adage of misfortunes never coming singly, it is to confirm it by the comment that, beyond a doubt, troubles are exceedingly gregarious in their nature, and that,
1 Latour, La vie intime.