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biographers dilates upon what he considers a singular feature in the Königsberg philosopher's way of expressing his sympathy with his friends in sickness. So long as the danger was imminent, he is said to have testified a restless anxiety, making perpetual inquiries, waiting with impatience for the crisis, and sometimes unable to pursue his customary labours from agitation of mind. “But no sooner was the patient's death announced, than he recovered his composure, and assumed an air of stern tranquillity, almost of indifference.” The explanation offered is, that he viewed life in general, and therefore that particular affection of life which we call sickness, as a state of oscillation and perpetual change, between which and the fluctuating sympathies of hope and fear there was a natural proportion that justified them to the reason; whereas death, as a permanent state that admitted of no more and no less, that terminated all anxiety, and for ever extinguished the agitations of suspense, he regarded as not adapted to any state of feeling but one of the same enduring and unchanging character.1
Though not formally a transcendental philosopher, the Duchess of Friedland, as depicted in Wallensteins Tod, is practically at one with the great critic of practical, as also of pure, reason :
“The future weighs upon her heart
grief. Give me higher and nobler reasons for enduring meekly what my Father sees fit to send, and I will try earnestly and faithfully to be patient; but mock me not, or any other mourner, with the speech, "Do not grieve, for it cannot be helped. It is past remedy.'” Not always, therefore, when remedies are past the grief is ended. Not always, beyond relief beyond regret. Not always, or indiscriminately, past cure, past care.
1 All this philosophic heroism gave way, however, on at least one occasion, for Kant manifested “ tumultuous grief” on the death of his accomplished young friend, Ehrenboth.—See Wasianski and (or rather in) De Quincey.
2 Webster's Duchess of Malfi is made to gaze upon the (supposed) corpses of her husband and children,
“That you may know for certain they are dead ;
That henceforth you may wisely cease to grieve
In Dr. John Brown's memoir of his venerable father, of the same name and style, except that divinity dignified the doctorate of the elder as medicine that of the younger, there is a feeling description of the father's affliction when bereaved of an endeared and endearing child, who was to the lonely widower as a flower he had the sole keeping of. “ His distress, his anguish at this stroke, was not only intense, it was in its essence permanent; he went mourning and looking for her all his days; but after she was dead, that resolved will compacted him in an instant.” It was on a Sunday morning she died, and he was all day, his son tells us, at church, not many yards from where lay her little corpse alone in the house. He preached in the afternoon, saying before he began his discourse : “It has pleased the Father of Lights to darken one of the lights of my dwelling ; had the child lived I would have remained with her, but now I have thought it right to arise and come into the house of the Lord to worship."1
HOSPITABLE WITH A VENGEANCE.
ESTHER 1. 8. TOTEWORTHY in many ways, and for many reasons, IY was the feast which Ahasuerus the king made in the third year of his reign, to all his princes and followers, and afterwards to all the citizens of Shushan, both great and small. And by no means the least noteworthy circumstance about the
The comment of his son, wise physician as well as worthy son, upon this incident is, that such violence to one part of Dr. Brown's nature by that in it which was supreme, injured him, the whole inner organisation being in such cases minutely, though it may be invisibly, hurt, its “molecular constitution damaged by the cruel stress and strain.” Such things, affirms John Brown, M.Ď., are not right; they are a cruelty and injury from the soul to the body, its faithful slave, and they bring down their own certain and specific retribution. “A man who did not feel keenly might have preached; a man whose whole nature was torn, shattered, and astonished as his was had in a high sense no right so to use himself, and when too late he opened his eyes to this.”—Horce Subsecivæ : Letter to John Cairns, D.D.
bed his liktuskether on
of the top or any of
feast was, that although royal wine was supplied without stint, or “in abundance, according to the state of the king,” in vessels of gold, yet was no guest under constraint to drink a drop more than he cared for ; none was to be pressed to exceed his liking, none to be urged to swallow more than was good for him, whether on the plea of showing his enthusiasm of loyalty, or his appreciation of the royal cellar, or his determination not to be behind his fellows, or any other pretext, conventional or what not. “The drinking was according to the law, none did compel : for so the king had appointed to ail the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure." Each guest was free to take as much as he would, and each equally free to forbear when he would. Restriction there was to be none; but neither was there to be any constraint.
What one pious commentator calls the absurd practice of urging people to drink more strong liquor than they are of themselves inclined to has prevailed in all ages, though “it is a most gross violation of common sense, freedom, and civility, as well as of morality and religion. It seems to have been devised and supported by drunkards, that the more sober part of mankind might be drawn in to keep them in countenance, by a reluctant intoxication.” Be the origin of the custom what it may, it is signally a custom more honoured in the breach than the observance. Extremes meet; and the hospitality which in these cases will not take a denial becomes arrant inhospitality. The host who constrains and compels submission to his ex officio behests is indeed hospitable with a vengeance.
You cannot entertain your friend, says Jeremy Taylor, “but excess is the measure; and that you may be very kind to your guest, you step aside, and lay away the Christian; your love cannot be expressed unless you do him an ill turn, and civilly invite him to a fever.” To no such incivility and inhospitality belongs the legitimate reading of Goldsmith's couplet,
“Or press the bashful stranger to his food,
And learn the luxury of doing good.”
Or of that stanza in the Cottar's Saturday Night which tells how, when supper crowns that simple board, the dame brings forth in complimental mood her carefully put by cheese, strong flavoured withal ; “her weel-hained kebbuck, fell, an' aft he's prest, an' aft he ca's it guid.” My Lord Chesterfield cautions his son against the utter vulgarity of pressing at meals, and he does so in his best French : “Si vous dinez chez un bourgeois, au lieu de vous offrir honnêtement de vous servir, il vous presse de manger et de boire, malgré vous, entasse des monceaux [not morceaux, good compositor ; c'est différent;] sur votre assiette, et vous fait crever, pour vous temoigner que vous êtes le bienvenu chez lui.”] But the bourgeois might cite royal and noble example to dignify the usage. Shakspeare
1 There is enough of Chesterfield about Lord Lytton's Lord Mauleverer to remind us of the former peer in the experiences of the latter at Squire Brandon's dinner-table. “The good squire heaped his [courtly guest's] plate with a profusion of boiled beef ; and while the poor earl was contemplating in dismay the alps upon alps which he was expected to devour, the grey headed butler, anxious to serve him with alacrity, whipped away the overloaded plate, and presently returned it, yet more astoundingly overcharged with an additional world of a composition of stony colour and sudorific aspect, which, after examining in mute attention for some moments, and carefully removing as well as he was able to the extreme edge of his plate, the earl discovered to be suet pudding. “You eat nothing, my lord !' cried the squire, ' let me give you (this is more underdone)'—holding between blade and fork, in middle air, a horrent fragment of scarlet, shaking its gory locks, "another slice.' Swift at the word dropped upon Mauleyerer's plate the harpy finger and ruthless thumb of the grey headed butler. Not a morsel more,' cried the earl, struggling with the murderous domestic; • my dear sir, excuse me, I assure you I never ate such a dinner before.''
Bourgeois literature has long had its Chesterfields too ; and in a recent Manual of Modern Etiquette the oracle enounces this weighty precept : “ It is mistaken kindness to persist in helping any one to a particular dish if once declined”; which deliverance prompted an ironical reviewer to remark that the Manual seemed to understate the barbarity of this proceeding; it being impossible to reprobate too severely the conduct of an entertainer who should treat his guest as Strasburg geese are treated, or the apoplectic pigs that sprawl about the Agricultural Hall cattle show.
And that epithet apoplectic reminds us of the occasion of Cardinal de Brienne's death, who “ perished miserably and ignobly," as recorded in the Biographie Universelle, in 1794, from a fit of apoplexy, brought on in part indeed by the blows of the soldiers who were quartered in his house to detain him prisoner, but mainly, it is alleged, from the effects of a heavy supper which they forced him to eat with them, in spite of his piteous remonstrances and persistent deprecation.
makes Lady Macbeth chide her moody husband, him a king too, though a new made one and an ill made one, at the banquet to his lords :
"My royal lord,
'Tis given with welcome.” That is to say, the entertainment seems that of a tavern, when the host fails to keep assuring his guests how heartily it is given, and to urge their profiting by it. Mr. Thackeray paints a pretty picture of his well born, well bred Madam Esmond performing the ancient rites (inclusive of the carving) of a hospitality “not so languid as ours”; the old law of the table being that the mistress was to press her guests with a decent eagerness, watching to see whom she could encourage to further enjoyment, “to cheer her guests to fresh efforts, to whisper her neighbour, Mr. Braddock,—'I have kept for your Excellency the jowl of this salmon, I will take no denial ; Mr. Franklin, you drink only water, sir, though our cellar has wholesome wine which gives no headaches ; Mr. Justice, you love woodcock pie ?!" etc., etc. That is rather a memorable dinner Sir W. Gell describes at the palace of the Duchess Torlonia with a very large company, including Sir Walter Scott, then (1832) an invalid sojourner in Rome. Sir Walter, to whom the least excess at table might be irreparably mischievous, was in danger of forgetting medical warningsl in the heat of conversation,
1 There are certain male “ sympathisers ” with invalids whose cue it is to recommend their setting the doctor at defiance, throwing physic to the dogs, and drinking twice as much port and eating twice as much meat as anybody else at the table : the impression apparently being, in the words of an essayist on invalids, that, “just as you can make punch stronger by adding more rum, so you can make a man stronger by adding more beef and wine.” And the cruel thing is held to be, that all these advisers look upon it as a personal affront if the unhappy invalid does not act upon their advice. There is no escape for him, as there may be in the case of other advisers, such as the homeopathic amateur and the drug dispensing dame. “ The homoeopathy he may put in his pocket; his hostess's pint of mixture [camomile or dandelion, or what not] he may pour secretly into his tub; but the beef and the port wine are not to be eluded.” The result being that the awful alternative between discourtesy and dyspepsia stares him in the