« 이전계속 »
that he should fight at a sad disadvantage. along the floor ; and though he did so steadAnd the greater missionary tells us that he ily, swiftly, and gracefully, no one would reknew why that weight was appointed him to mark that he had done anything worth nocarry; and that he felt he needed it all to tice. But if he choose for his path a thick save him from a strong tendency to undue rope, extended from one end of the buildself-conceit. No one knows, now, what the ing to the other, at a height of a hundred burden was which he bore; but it was heavy feet ; and if he walk rather slowly and awk. and painful; it was “a thorn in the flesh ; " wardly along it, he will be esteemed as havthree times he earnestly asked that it might ing done something very extraordinary ; be taken away; but the answer he got im- while if, in addition to this, he is blindplied that he needed it yet ; and that his folded, and has his feet placed in large basMaster thought it a better plan to strengthen kets instead of shoes, he will, if in any way the back, than to lighten the burden. Yes, he can get over the distance between the the blessed Redeemer appointed that St. ends of the building, be held as one of the Paul should carry weight in life ; and I think, most remarkable men of the age. Yes, load friendly reader, that we shall believe that it yourself with weight which no one asks you is wisely and kindly meant, if the like should to carry: accumulate disadvantages which come to you and me.
you need not face unless you choose : then We all understand what is meant when carry the weight in any fashion, and overwe hear it said that a man is doing very well, come the disadvantages in any fashion, and or has done very well, considering. I do not you are a great man, considering: that is, know whether it is a Scotticism to stop short considering the disadvantages and the at that point of the sentence. We do it con- weight. Let this be remembered : if a man stantly, in this country: the sentence would is so placed that he cannot do his work exbe completed by saying, considering the cept in the face of special difficulties, then weight he has to carry, or the disadvantage let him be praised if he vanquish these in at which he works. And things which are some decent measure, and if he do his work very good, considering, may range very far tolerably well. But a man deserves no praise up and down the scale of actual merit. A at all for work which he has done tolerably thing which is very good, considering, may or done rather badly, because he chose to do be very bad, or may be tolerably good. It it under disadvantageous circumstances, unnever can be absolutely very good; for, if it der which there was no earthly call upon were, you would cease to use the word con- him to do it. In this case he probably is sidering. A thing which is absolutely very a self-conceited man, or a man of wronggood, if it have been done under extremely headed independence of disposition; and in unfavorable circumstances, would not be de- this case, if his work be bad absolutely, scribed as very good, considering; it would don't tell him that it is good, considering. be described as quite wonderful, consider- Refuse to consider. He has no right to exing, or as miraculous, considering. And it pect that you should. There was a man who is curious how people take a pride in accu- built a house entirely with his own hands. mulating unfavorable circumstances, that He had never learned either mason work or they may overcome them, and gain the glory carpentry: he could quite well have afforded of having overcome them. Thus, if a man to pay skilled workmen to do the work he wishes to sign his name, he might write the wanted; but he did not choose to do so. letters with his right hand; and though he He did the whole work himself. The house write them very clearly and well and rap- was finished : its aspect was peculiar. The idly, nobody would think of giving him any walls were off the perpendicular consideracredit. But if he write his name rather bly, and the windows were singular in shape, badly with his left hand, people would say the doors fitted badly, and the floors were it was a remarkable signature, considering. far from level. In short, it was a very bad And if he wrote his name very ill indeed, and awkward-looking house; but it was a with his foot, people would say the writing wonderful house, considering. And peowas quite wonderful
, considering. If a man ple said that it was so, who saw nothdesire to walk from one end of a long building wonderful in the beautiful house next ing to the other, he might do so by walking it, perfect in symmetry and finish and comfort, but built by men whose business weight of human beings not unfrequently it was to build. Now I should have de- consists of things which make us angry clined to admire that odd house, or to ex- rather than sympathetic. You have seen a press the least sympathy with its builder. man carrying heavy weight in life, perhaps He chose to run with a needless hundred- in the form of inveterate wrong-headedness weight on his back : he chose to walk in bas- and suspiciousness; but instead of pitying kets instead of in shoes. And if, in conse- him, our impulse would rather be to beat quence of his own perversity, he did his work him upon that perverted head. We pity badly, I should have refused to recognize it physical malformation or unhealthiness ; but as anything but bad work. It was quite dif- our bent is to be angry with intellectual and ferent with Robinson Crusoe, who made his moral malformation or unhealthiness. We dwelling and his furniture for himself, because feel for the deformed man, who must strug. there was no one else to make them for him. gle on at that sad disadvantage ; feeling it, I dare say his cave was anything but exactly too, much more acutely than you would read. square ; and his chairs and table were cum- ily believe. But we have only indignation brous enough; but they were wonderful, for the man weighted with far worse things; considering certain facts which he was quite and things which, in some cases at least, he entitled to expect us to consider. Southey’s can just as little help. You have known Cottonian Library was all quite right; and men whose extra pounds, or even extra ton, you would have said that the books were was a hasty temper, flying out of a sudden very nicely bound, considering; for Southey into ungovernable bursts : or a moral cowcould not afford to pay the regular binder's ardice leading to trickery and falsehood : or charges; and it was better that his books a special disposition to envy and evil-speakshould be done up in cotton of various hues ing: or a very strong tendency to morby the members of his own family, than that bid complaining about his misfortunes and they should remain not bound at all. You troubles : or an invincible bent to be always will think, too, of the poor old parson who talking of his sufferings through the dewrote a book which he thought of great rangement of his digestive organs. Now, value, but which no publisher would bring you grow angry at these things. You canout. He was determined that all his labor not stand them. And there is a substratum should not be lost to posterity. So he bought of truth to that angry feeling. A man can types and a printing-press, and printed his form his mind more than he can form his precious work, poor man: he and his man- body. If a man be well made, physically, servant did it all. It made a great many he will, in ordinary cases, remain so: but he rolumes; and the task took up many years. may, in a moral sense, raise a great hanchThen he bound the volumes with his own back where nature made none. He may hands; and carrying them to London, he foster a malignant temper, a grumbling, placed a copy of his work in each of the fretful spirit, which by manful resistance public libraries. I dare say he might have might be much abated, if not quite put saved himself his labor. How many of my down. But still, there should aften be pity, readers could tell what was the title of the where we are prone only to blame. We find work, or what was the name of its author ? a person in whom a truly disgusting charStill, there was a man who accomplished his acter has been formed: well, if you knew design, in the face of every disadvantage. all, you would know that the person had
hardly a chance of being otherwise : the man There is a great point of difference between could not help it. You have known people our feeling towards the human being who who were awfully unamiable and repulsive: runs his race much overweighted, and our you may have been told how very different feeling towards the inferior animal that does they once were,-sweet-tempered and cheerthe like. If you saw a poor horse gamely ful. And surely, the change is a far sadder struggling in a race, with a weight of a ton one than that which has passed upon the extra, you would pity it. Your sympathies wrinkled old woman, who was once-as yon would all be with the creature that was mak- are told—the loveliest girl of her time. Yet ing the best of unfavorable circumstances. many a one who will look with interest upon But it is a sorrowful fact, that the drag- the withered face and the dimmed eyes, and try to trace in them the vestiges of radiant imposing occasions on which bombastic beauty gone, will never think of puzzling writers are wont to describe them as weepout in violent spurts of petulance the per- ing. Ah, there is One who knows where the version of a quick and kind heart; or in responsibility for all this rests! Not wholly curious oddities and pettinesses the result of with the wretched parents: far from that. long and lonely years of toil in which no one They, too, have gone through the like: sympathized; or in cynical bitterness and they had as little chance as their children. misanthropy, an old disappointment never They deserve our deepest pity too. Perhaps got over. There is a hard knot in the wood, the deeper pity is not due to the shivering, where a green young branch was lopped starving child, with the bitter wind cutting away. I have a great pity for old bachelors. through its thin rags, and its blue feet on Those I have known have for the most part the frozen pavement, holding out a hand been old fools. But the more foolish and that is like the claw of some beast, but rather absurd they are, the more pity is due to to the brutalized mother who could thus them. I believe there is something to be send out the infant she bore. Surely, the said for even the most unamiable creatures. mother's condition, if we look at the case The shark is an unamiable creature. It is aright, is the more deplorable. Would not voracious. It will snap a man in two. Yet you, my reader, rather endure any degree of it is not unworthy of sympathy. Its or- cold and hunger than come to this! Doubtganization is such that it is always suffering less, there is blame somewhere that such the most ravenous hunger. You can hardly things should be: but we all know that the imagine the state of intolerable famine in blame of the most miserable practical evils which that unhappy animal roams the ocean. and failures can hardly be traced to particuPeople talk of its awful teeth and its vindic- lar individuals. It is through the incapacity tive eye. I suppose it is well ascertained of scores of public servants that an army is that the extremity of physical want, as starved. It is through the fault of millions reached on rafts at sea, has driven human of people that our great towns are what they beings to deeds as barbarous as ever shark are; and it must be confessed that the acwas accused of. The worse a human being tual responsibility is spread so thinly over so is, the more he deserves our pity. Hang great a surface, that it is hard to say it him, if that be needful for the welfare of so- rests very blackly upon any one spot. Oh, ciety; but pity him even as you hang. that we could but know whom to hang, when Many a poor creature has gradually become we find some flagrant, crying evil! Unluckhardened and inveterate in guilt, who would ily, hasty people are ready to be content if have shuddered at first had the excess of it they can but hang anybody, without mindultimately reached been at first presented to ing much whether that individual be more view. But the precipice was sloped off: the to blame than many beside. Laws and descent was made step by step. And there kings have something to do here : but manis many a human being who never had a agement and foresight on the part of the chance of being good : many who have been poorer classes have a great deal more to do. trained, and even compelled, to evil from And no laws can make many persons manvery infancy. Who that knows anything of aging or provident. I do not hesitate to say, our great cities, but knows how the poor from what I bave myself seen of the poor, little child, the toddling innocent, is some. that the same short-sighted extravagance, times sent out day by day to steal ; and re- the same recklessness of consequences, ceived in his wretched home with blows and which are frequently found in them, would curses if he fail to bring back enough: who cause quite as much misery if they prevailed has not heard of such poor little things, un- in a like degree among people with a thousuccessful in their sorry work, sleeping all sand a year. But it seems as if only tolernight in some wintry stair, because they ably well-to-do people have the heart to be durst not venture back to their drunken, provident and self-denying. A man with a miserable, desperate parents ? I could tell few hundreds annually does not marry unthings at which angels might shed tears, less he thinks he can afford it: but the work. with much better reason for doing so than man with fifteen shillings a week is proseems to me to exist in some of those more foundly indifferent to any such calculation. I firmly believe that the sternest of all self- | is a strong temptation to believe that this dedenial is that practised by those who, when pression is more common and more prevawe divide mankind into rich and poor, must lent than it truly is. Sometimes there is a be classed I suppose with the rich. But I gloom which overcasts all life, like that in turn away from a miserable subject, through which James Watt lived and worked, and which I cannot see my way clearly, and on served his race so nobly; like that from which I cannot think but with unutterable which the gentle, amiable poet, James Montpain. It is an easy way of cutting the knot gomery, suffered through his whole career. to declare that the rich are the cause of all But in ordinary cases the gloom is temporary the sufferings of the poor; but when we look and transient. Even the most depressed are at the case in all its bearings, we shall see not always so. Like, we know, suggests that that is rank nonsense. And on the like powerfully. If you are placed in some other hand, it is unquestionable that the rich peculiar conjuncture of circumstances, or if are bound to do something. But what? I you pass through some remarkable scene, should feel deeply indebted to any one who the present scene or conjuncture will call up would write out, in a few short and intelli- before you in a way that startles you, somegible sentences, the practical results that are thing like itself which you had long forgotaimed at in the Song of the Shirt. The ten, and which you would never have rememmisery and evil are manifest : but tell us bered but for this touch of some mysterious whom to hang ; tell us what to do! spring. And accordingly, a man depressed
in spirits thinks that he is always so, or at One heavy burden with which many men least fancies that such depression has given are weighted for the race of life, is depres- the color to his life in a very much greater sion of spirits. I wonder whether this used degree than it actually has done so. For to be as common in former days as it is now. this dark season wakens up the remembrance There was, indeed, the man in Homer, who of many similar dark seasons which in more walked by the seashore in a very gloomy cheerful days are quite forgot, and these mood; but his case seems to have been cheerful days drop out of memory for the thought remarkable. What is it in our mod time. Hearing such a man speak, if he ern mode of life, and our infinity of cares ; speak out his heart to you, you think him what little thing is it about the matter of the inconsistent, perhaps you think him insinbrain, or the flow of the blood, that makes cere. You think he is saying more than he the difference between buoyant cheerfulness truly feels. It is not 80; he feels and beand deep depression ? I begin to think that lieves it all at the time. But he is taking a almost all educated people, and especially all one-sided view of things; he is undergoing whose work is mental rather than physical, the misery of it acutely for the time: by and suffer more or less from this indescribable by, he will see things from quite a different gloom. And although a certain amount of point. A very eminent man—there can be sentimental sadness may possibly help the no harm in referring to a case which he himpoet, or the imaginative writer, to produce self made so public-wrote and published material which may be very attractive to the something about his miserable home. He young and inexperienced, I suppose it will was quite sincere, I do not doubt. He be admitted by all that cheerfulness and thought so at the time. He was miserable hopefulness are noble and healthful stimu- just then ; and so, looking back on past lants to worthy effort, and that depression of years, he could see nothing but misery. But spirits does--so to speak-cut the sinews the case was not really so, one could feel with which the average man must do the sure. There had been a vast deal of enjoywork of life. You know how lightly the ment about his home and his lot; it was forbuoyant heart carries people through entan- gotten, then. A man in very low spirits, glements and labors under which the de- reading over his diary, somehow lights upon sponding would break down, or which they and dwells upon all the sad and wounding never would face. Yet, in thinking of the things ; he involuntarily skips the rest, or commonness of depressed spirits, even where reads them with but faint perception of their the mind is otherwise very free from any- meaning. In reading the very Bible, he thing morbid, we should remember that there does the like thing. He chances upon that
which is in unison with his present mood. I can remember, perhaps, the dark time in think there is no respect in which this great which you knew quite well what it was that law of the association of ideas holds more made it so dark. Well, better days have strictly true, than in the power of a present come. That sorrowful, wearing time, which state of mind, or a present state of outward exhausted the springs of life faster than orcircumstances, to bring up vividly before us dinary living would have done, which aged all such states in our past history. We are you in heart and frame before your day, depressed, we are worried ; and when we dragged over, and it is gone. You carried look back, all our departed days of worry heavy weight, indeed, while it lasted. It was and depression appear to start up and press but poor running you made, poor work you themselves upon our view to the exclusion of did, with that feeble, anxious, disappointed, anything else; so that we are ready to think miserable heart. And you would many a time that we have never been otherwise than de- have been thankful to creepinto a quiet grave. pressed and worried all our life. But when Perhaps that season did you good. Perhaps it more cheerful times come, they suggest only was the discipline you needed. Perhaps it such times of cheerfulness, and no effort will took out your self-conceit, and made you bring back the depression vividly as when humble. Perhaps it disposed you to feel for we felt it. It is not selfishness or heartless- the grief and cares of others, and made you ness, it is the result of an inevitable law of sympathetic. Perhaps, looking back now, you mind, that people in happy circumstances can discern the end it served. And now that it should resolutely believe that it is a happy has done its work, and that it only stings you world after all; for looking back, and look- when you look back, let that time be quite ing around, the mind refuses to take distinct forgotten! note of anything that is not somewhat akin to its present state. And so, if any ordinary There are men, and very clever men, who man, who is not a distempered genius or a do the work of life at a disadvantage, through great fool, tells you that he is always miser- this, that their mind is a machine fitted for able, don't believe him. He feels so now, doing well only one kind of work; or that but he does not always feel so. There are their mind is a machine which, though doperiods of brightening in the darkest lot. ing many things well, does some one thing, Very, very few live in unvarying gloom. Not perhaps a conspicuous thing, very poorly. but what there is something very pitiful (by You find it hard to give a man credit for bewhich I mean deserving of pity) in what may ing possessed of sense and talent, if you hear be termed the Micawber style of mind; in him make a speech at a public dinner, which the stage of hysteric oscillations between joy speech approaches the idiotic for its silliness and misery. Thoughtless readers of David and confusion. And the vulgar mind readCopperfield laugh at Mr. Micawber, and his ily concludes that he who does one thing exrapid passages from the depth of despair to tremely ill, can do nothing well; and that the summit of happiness, and back again. he who is ignorant on one point, is ignorant But if you have seen or experienced that on all. A friend of mine, a country parson, morbid condition, you would know that there on first going to his parish, resolved to farm is more reason to mourn over it than to his glebe for himself. A neighboring farmer laugh at it. There is acute misery felt now kindly offered the parson to plow one of his and then ; and there is a pervading, never- fields. The farmer said that he would send departing sense of the hollowness of the mor- bis man John with a plow and a pair of bid mirth. It is but a very few degrees better horses, on a certain day. “If ye're goin than “moody madness, laughing wild, amid about,” said the farmer to the clergyman, severest woe.” By depression of spirits, I “John will be unco' weel pleased if you speak understand a dejection without any cause to him, and say it's a fine day, or the like o' that could be stated, or from causes which that; but dinna," said the farmer, with much in a healthy mind would produce no such solemnity,“ dinna say onything to him aboot degree of dejection. No doubt many men plowin' and sawin’; for John,” he added, “is can remember seasons of dejection which a stupid body, but he has been plowin' and was not imaginary, and of anxiety and mis- sawin' all his life, and he'll see in a minute ery whose causes were only too real. You that ye ken naething aboot plowin' and saw