Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Character by Samuel Smiles

Part 6 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

speculations, successes, and failures, in science, philosophy,
religion, and morals. They have been the greatest motive powers
in all times. "From the Gospel to the Contrat Social," says De
Bonald, "it is books that have made revolutions." Indeed, a great
book is often a greater thing than a great battle. Even works of
fiction have occasionally exercised immense power on society.
Thus Rabelais in France, and Cervantes in Spain, overturned at the
same time the dominion of monkery and chivalry, employing no other
weapons but ridicule, the natural contrast of human terror. The
people laughed, and felt reassured. So 'Telemachus' appeared, and
recalled men back to the harmonies of nature.

"Poets," says Hazlitt, "are a longer-lived race than heroes: they
breathe more of the air of immortality. They survive more entire
in their thoughts and acts. We have all that Virgil or Homer did,
as much as if we had lived at the same time with them. We can
hold their works in our hands, or lay them on our pillows, or put
them to our lips. Scarcely a trace of what the others did is left
upon the earth, so as to be visible to common eyes. The one, the
dead authors, are living men, still breathing and moving in their
writings; the others, the conquerors of the world, are but the
ashes in an urn. The sympathy (so to speak) between thought and
thought is more intimate and vital than that between thought and
action. Thought is linked to thought as flame kindles into flame;
the tribute of admiration to the MANES of departed heroism is like
burning incense in a marble monument. Words, ideas, feelings,
with the progress of time harden into substances: things, bodies,
actions, moulder away, or melt into a sound--into thin air....
Not only a man's actions are effaced and vanish with him; his
virtues and generous qualities die with him also. His intellect
only is immortal, and bequeathed unimpaired to posterity. Words
are the only things that last for ever." (18)

NOTES

(1) 'Kaye's 'Lives of Indian Officers.'

(2) Emerson, in his 'Society and Solitude,' says "In contemporaries,
it is not so easy to distinguish between notoriety and fame. Be
sure, then, to read no mean books. Shun the spawn of the press or
the gossip of the hour.... The three practical rules I have to
offer are these:- 1. Never read a book that is not a year old;
2. Never read any but famed books; 3. Never read any but what you
like." Lord Lytton's maxim is: "In science, read by preference
the newest books; in literature, the oldest."

(3) A friend of Sir Walter Scott, who had the same habit, and prided
himself on his powers of conversation, one day tried to "draw out"
a fellow-passenger who sat beside him on the outside of a coach,
but with indifferent success. At length the conversationalist
descended to expostulation. "I have talked to you, my friend,"
said he, "on all the ordinary subjects--literature, farming,
merchandise, gaming, game-laws, horse-races, suits at law,
politics, and swindling, and blasphemy, and philosophy: is there
any one subject that you will favour me by opening upon?" The
wight writhed his countenance into a grin: "Sir," said he, "can
you say anything clever about BEND-LEATHER?" As might be
expected, the conversationalist was completely nonplussed.

(4) Coleridge, in his 'Lay Sermon,' points out, as a fact of history,
how large a part of our present knowledge and civilization is
owing, directly or indirectly, to the Bible; that the Bible has
been the main lever by which the moral and intellectual character
of Europe has been raised to its present comparative height; and
he specifies the marked and prominent difference of this book from
the works which it is the fashion to quote as guides and
authorities in morals, politics, and history. "In the Bible," he
says, "every agent appears and acts as a self-substituting
individual: each has a life of its own, and yet all are in life.
The elements of necessity and freewill are reconciled in the
higher power of an omnipresent Providence, that predestinates the
whole in the moral freedom of the integral parts. Of this the
Bible never suffers us to lose sight. The root is never detached
from the ground, it is God everywhere; and all creatures conform
to His decrees--the righteous by performance of the law, the
disobedient by the sufferance of the penalty."

(5) Montaigne's Essay (Book I. chap. xxv.)--'Of the Education
of Children.'

(6) "Tant il est vrai," says Voltaire, "que les hommes, qui sont
audessus des autres par les talents, s'en RAPPROCHENT PRESQUE
TOUJOURS PAR LES FAIBLESSES; car pourquoi les talents nous
mettraient-ils audessous de l'humanite."--VIE DE MOLIERE.

(7) 'Life,' 8vo Ed., p. 102.

(8) 'Autobiography of Sir Egerton Brydges, Bart.,' vol. i. p. 91.

(9) It was wanting in Plutarch, in Southey ('Life of Nelson'), and in
Forster ('Life of Goldsmith'); yet it must be acknowledged that
personal knowledge gives the principal charm to Tacitus's
'Agricola,' Roper's 'Life of More,' Johnson's 'Lives of Savage and
Pope,' Boswell's 'Johnson,' Lockhart's 'Scott,' Carlyle's
'Sterling,' and Moore's 'Byron,'

(10) The 'Dialogus Novitiorum de Contemptu Mundi.'

(11) The Life of Sir Charles Bell, one of our greatest physiologists,
was left to be written by Amedee Pichot, a Frenchman; and though
Sir Charles Bell's letters to his brother have since been
published, his Life still remains to be written. It may
also be added that the best Life of Goethe has been written
by an Englishman, and the best Life of Frederick the Great
by a Scotchman.

(12) It is not a little remarkable that the pious Schleiermacher
should have concurred in opinion with Goethe as to the merits of
Spinoza, though he was a man excommunicated by the Jews, to whom
he belonged, and denounced by the Christians as a man little
better than an atheist. "The Great Spirit of the world," says
Schleiermacher, in his REDE UBER DIE RELIGION, "penetrated the
holy but repudiated Spinoza; the Infinite was his beginning and
his end; the universe his only and eternal love. He was filled
with religion and religious feeling: and therefore is it that he
stands alone unapproachable, the master in his art, but elevated
above the profane world, without adherents, and without even
citizenship."

Cousin also says of Spinoza:- "The author whom this pretended
atheist most resembles is the unknown author of 'The Imitation of
Jesus Christ.'"

(13) Preface to Southeys 'Life of Wesley' (1864).

(14) Napoleon also read Milton carefully, and it has been related of
him by Sir Colin Campbell, who resided with Napoleon at Elba, that
when speaking of the Battle of Austerlitz, he said that a
particular disposition of his artillery, which, in its results,
had a decisive effect in winning the battle, was suggested to his
mind by the recollection of four lines in Milton. The lines occur
in the sixth book, and are descriptive of Satan's artifice during
the war with Heaven

"In hollow cube
Training his devilish engin'ry, impal'd
On every side WITH SHADOWING SQUADRONS DEEP
TO HIDE THE FRAUD."

"The indubitable fact," says Mr. Edwards, in his book 'On
Libraries,' "that these lines have a certain appositeness to an
important manoeuvre at Austerlitz, gives an independent interest
to the story; but it is highly imaginative to ascribe the victory
to that manoeuvre. And for the other preliminaries of the tale,
it is unfortunate that Napoleon had learned a good deal about war
long before he had learned anything about Milton."

(15) 'Biographia Literaria,' chap. i.

(16) Sir John Bowring's 'Memoirs of Bentham,' p. 10.

(17) Notwithstanding recent censures of classical studies as a useless
waste of time, there can be no doubt that they give the highest
finish to intellectual culture. The ancient classics contain the
most consummate models of literary art; and the greatest writers
have been their most diligent students. Classical culture was the
instrument with which Erasmus and the Reformers purified Europe.
It distinguished the great patriots of the seventeenth century;
and it has ever since characterised our greatest statesmen. "I
know not how it is," says an English writer, "but their commerce
with the ancients appears to me to produce, in those who
constantly practise it, a steadying and composing effect upon
their judgment, not of literary works only, but of men and events
in general. They are like persons who have had a weighty and
impressive experience; they are more truly than others under the
empire of facts, and more independent of the language current
among those with whom they live."

(18) Hazlitt's TABLE TALK: 'On Thought and Action.'

CHAPTER XI.--COMPANIONSHIP IN MARRIAGE.

"Kindness in women, not their beauteous looks,
Shall win my love."--SHAKSPEARE.

"In the husband Wisdom, In the wife Gentleness."--GEORGE HERBERT.

"If God had designed woman as man's master, He would have taken
her from his head; If as his slave, He would have taken her from
his feet; but as He designed her for his companion and equal, He
took her from his side."--SAINT AUGUSTINE.--'DE CIVITATE DEI.'

"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above
rubies.... Her husband is known in the gates, and he sitteth
among the elders of the land.... Strength and honour are her
clothing, and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her
mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She
looketh well to the ways of her husband, and eateth not the bread
of idleness. Her children arise up and call her blessed; her
husband also, and he praiseth her."--PROVERBS OF SOLOMON.

THE character of men, as of women, is powerfully influenced by
their companionship in all the stages of life. We have already
spoken of the influence of the mother in forming the character of
her children. She makes the moral atmosphere in which they live,
and by which their minds and souls are nourished, as their bodies
are by the physical atmosphere they breathe. And while woman is
the natural cherisher of infancy and the instructor of childhood,
she is also the guide and counsellor of youth, and the confidant
and companion of manhood, in her various relations of mother,
sister, lover, and wife. In short, the influence of woman more or
less affects, for good or for evil, the entire destinies of man.

The respective social functions and duties of men and women are
clearly defined by nature. God created man AND woman, each to do
their proper work, each to fill their proper sphere. Neither can
occupy the position, nor perform the functions, of the other.
Their several vocations are perfectly distinct. Woman exists on
her own account, as man does on his, at the same time that each
has intimate relations with the other. Humanity needs both for
the purposes of the race, and in every consideration of social
progress both must necessarily be included.

Though companions and equals, yet, as regards the measure of their
powers, they are unequal. Man is stronger, more muscular, and of
rougher fibre; woman is more delicate, sensitive, and nervous.
The one excels in power of brain, the other in qualities of heart;
and though the head may rule, it is the heart that influences.
Both are alike adapted for the respective functions they have to
perform in life; and to attempt to impose woman's work upon man
would be quite as absurd as to attempt to impose man's work upon
woman. Men are sometimes womanlike, and women are sometimes
manlike; but these are only exceptions which prove the rule.

Although man's qualities belong more to the head, and woman's more
to the heart--yet it is not less necessary that man's heart
should be cultivated as well as his head, and woman's head
cultivated as well as her heart. A heartless man is as much out-
of-keeping in civilized society as a stupid and unintelligent
woman. The cultivation of all parts of the moral and intellectual
nature is requisite to form the man or woman of healthy and well-
balanced character. Without sympathy or consideration for others,
man were a poor, stunted, sordid, selfish being; and without
cultivated intelligence, the most beautiful woman were little
better than a well-dressed doll.

It used to be a favourite notion about woman, that her weakness
and dependency upon others constituted her principal claim to
admiration. "If we were to form an image of dignity in a man,"
said Sir Richard Steele, "we should give him wisdom and valour, as
being essential to the character of manhood. In like manner, if
you describe a right woman in a laudable sense, she should have
gentle softness, tender fear, and all those parts of life which
distinguish her from the other sex, with some subordination to it,
but an inferiority which makes her lovely." Thus, her weakness
was to be cultivated, rather than her strength; her folly, rather
than her wisdom. She was to be a weak, fearful, tearful,
characterless, inferior creature, with just sense enough to
understand the soft nothings addressed to her by the "superior"
sex. She was to be educated as an ornamental appanage of man,
rather as an independent intelligence--or as a wife, mother,
companion, or friend.

Pope, in one of his 'Moral Essays,' asserts that "most women have
no characters at all;" and again he says:-

"Ladies, like variegated tulips, show:
'Tis to their changes half their charms we owe,
Fine by defect and delicately weak."

This satire characteristically occurs in the poet's 'Epistle to
Martha Blount,' the housekeeper who so tyrannically ruled him; and
in the same verses he spitefully girds at Lady Mary Wortley
Montague, at whose feet he had thrown himself as a lover, and been
contemptuously rejected. But Pope was no judge of women, nor was
he even a very wise or tolerant judge of men.

It is still too much the practice to cultivate the weakness of
woman rather than her strength, and to render her attractive
rather than self-reliant. Her sensibilities are developed at the
expense of her health of body as well as of mind. She lives,
moves, and has her being in the sympathy of others. She dresses
that she may attract, and is burdened with accomplishments that
she may be chosen. Weak, trembling, and dependent, she incurs the
risk of becoming a living embodiment of the Italian proverb--"so
good that she is good for nothing."

On the other hand, the education of young men too often errs on
the side of selfishness. While the boy is incited to trust mainly
to his own efforts in pushing his way in the world, the girl is
encouraged to rely almost entirely upon others. He is educated
with too exclusive reference to himself and she is educated with
too exclusive reference to him. He is taught to be self-reliant
and self-dependent, while she is taught to be distrustful of
herself, dependent, and self-sacrificing in all things. Thus,
the intellect of the one is cultivated at the expense of the
affections, and the affections of the other at the expense
of the intellect.

It is unquestionable that the highest qualities of woman are
displayed in her relationship to others, through the medium of her
affections. She is the nurse whom nature has given to all
humankind. She takes charge of the helpless, and nourishes and
cherishes those we love. She is the presiding genius of the
fireside, where she creates an atmosphere of serenity and
contentment suitable for the nurture and growth of character in
its best forms. She is by her very constitution compassionate,
gentle, patient, and self-denying. Loving, hopeful, trustful,
her eye sheds brightness everywhere. It shines upon coldness
and warms it, upon suffering and relieves it, upon sorrow
and cheers it:--

"Her silver flow
Of subtle-paced counsel in distress,
Right to the heart and brain, though undescried,
Winning its way with extreme gentleness
Through all the outworks of suspicion's pride."

Woman has been styled "the angel of the unfortunate." She is
ready to help the weak, to raise the fallen, to comfort the
suffering. It was characteristic of woman, that she should have
been the first to build and endow an hospital. It has been said
that wherever a human being is in suffering, his sighs call a
woman to his side. When Mungo Park, lonely, friendless, and
famished, after being driven forth from an African village by
the men, was preparing to spend the night under a tree, exposed
to the rain and the wild beasts which there abounded, a poor
negro woman, returning from the labours of the field, took
compassion upon him, conducted him into her hut, and there
gave him food, succour, and shelter. (1)

But while the most characteristic qualities of woman are displayed
through her sympathies and affections, it is also necessary for
her own happiness, as a self-dependent being, to develope and
strengthen her character, by due self-culture, self-reliance, and
self-control. It is not desirable, even were it possible, to
close the beautiful avenues of the heart. Self-reliance of the
best kind does not involve any limitation in the range of human
sympathy. But the happiness of woman, as of man, depends in a
great measure upon her individual completeness of character. And
that self-dependence which springs from the due cultivation of the
intellectual powers, conjoined with a proper discipline of the
heart and conscience, will enable her to be more useful in life as
well as happy; to dispense blessings intelligently as well as to
enjoy them; and most of all those which spring from mutual
dependence and social sympathy.

To maintain a high standard of purity in society, the culture of
both sexes must be in harmony, and keep equal pace. A pure
womanhood must be accompanied by a pure manhood. The same moral
law applies alike to both. It would be loosening the foundations
of virtue, to countenance the notion that because of a difference
in sex, man were at liberty to set morality at defiance, and to do
that with impunity, which, if done by a woman, would stain her
character for life. To maintain a pure and virtuous condition of
society, therefore, man as well as woman must be pure and
virtuous; both alike shunning all acts impinging on the heart,
character, and conscience--shunning them as poison, which,
once imbibed, can never be entirely thrown out again, but
mentally embitters, to a greater or less extent, the happiness
of after-life.

And here we would venture to touch upon a delicate topic. Though
it is one of universal and engrossing human interest, the moralist
avoids it, the educator shuns it, and parents taboo it. It is
almost considered indelicate to refer to Love as between the
sexes; and young persons are left to gather their only notions of
it from the impossible love-stories that fill the shelves of
circulating libraries. This strong and absorbing feeling, this
BESOIN D'AIMER--which nature has for wise purposes made so strong
in woman that it colours her whole life and history, though it may
form but an episode in the life of man--is usually left to follow
its own inclinations, and to grow up for the most part unchecked,
without any guidance or direction whatever.

Although nature spurns all formal rules and directions in affairs
of love, it might at all events be possible to implant in young
minds such views of Character as should enable them to
discriminate between the true and the false, and to accustom them
to hold in esteem those qualities of moral purity and integrity,
without which life is but a scene of folly and misery. It may not
be possible to teach young people to love wisely, but they may at
least be guarded by parental advice against the frivolous and
despicable passions which so often usurp its name. "Love," it has
been said, "in the common acceptation of the term, is folly; but
love, in its purity, its loftiness, its unselfishness, is not only
a consequence, but a proof, of our moral excellence. The
sensibility to moral beauty, the forgetfulness of self in the
admiration engendered by it, all prove its claim to a high moral
influence. It is the triumph of the unselfish over the selfish
part of our nature."

It is by means of this divine passion that the world is kept ever
fresh and young. It is the perpetual melody of humanity. It
sheds an effulgence upon youth, and throws a halo round age. It
glorifies the present by the light it casts backward, and it
lightens the future by the beams it casts forward. The love which
is the outcome of esteem and admiration, has an elevating and
purifying effect on the character. It tends to emancipate one
from the slavery of self. It is altogether unsordid; itself is
its only price. It inspires gentleness, sympathy, mutual faith,
and confidence. True love also in a measure elevates the
intellect. "All love renders wise in a degree," says the poet
Browning, and the most gifted minds have been the sincerest
lovers. Great souls make all affections great; they elevate and
consecrate all true delights. The sentiment even brings to light
qualities before lying dormant and unsuspected. It elevates the
aspirations, expands the soul, and stimulates the mental powers.
One of the finest compliments ever paid to a woman was that of
Steele, when he said of Lady Elizabeth Hastings, "that to have
loved her was a liberal education." Viewed in this light, woman
is an educator in the highest sense, because, above all other
educators, she educates humanly and lovingly.

It has been said that no man and no woman can be regarded as
complete in their experience of life, until they have been subdued
into union with the world through their affections. As woman is
not woman until she has known love, neither is man man. Both are
requisite to each other's completeness. Plato entertained the
idea that lovers each sought a likeness in the other, and that
love was only the divorced half of the original human being
entering into union with its counterpart. But philosophy would
here seem to be at fault, for affection quite as often springs
from unlikeness as from likeness in its object.

The true union must needs be one of mind as well as of heart, and
based on mutual esteem as well as mutual affection. "No true and
enduring love," says Fichte, "can exist without esteem ; every
other draws regret after it, and is unworthy of any noble human
soul." One cannot really love the bad, but always something that
we esteem and respect as well as admire. In short, true union
must rest on qualities of character, which rule in domestic as in
public life.

But there is something far more than mere respect and esteem in
the union between man and wife. The feeling on which it rests
is far deeper and tenderer--such, indeed, as never exists
between men or between women. "In matters of affection," says
Nathaniel Hawthorne, "there is always an impassable gulf between
man and man. They can never quite grasp each other's hands,
and therefore man never derives any intimate help, any
heart-sustenance, from his brother man, but from woman--his
mother, his sister, or his wife." (2)

Man enters a new world of joy, and sympathy, and human interest,
through the porch of love. He enters a new world in his home--
the home of his own making--altogether different from the home of
his boyhood, where each day brings with it a succession of new
joys and experiences. He enters also, it may be, a new world of
trials and sorrows, in which he often gathers his best culture and
discipline. "Family life," says Sainte-Beuve, "may be full of
thorns and cares; but they are fruitful: all others are dry
thorns." And again: "If a man's home, at a certain period of
life, does not contain children, it will probably be found filled
with follies or with vices." (3)

A life exclusively occupied in affairs of business insensibly
tends to narrow and harden the character. It is mainly occupied
with self-watching for advantages, and guarding against sharp
practice on the part of others. Thus the character unconsciously
tends to grow suspicious and ungenerous. The best corrective of
such influences is always the domestic; by withdrawing the mind
from thoughts that are wholly gainful, by taking it out of its
daily rut, and bringing it back to the sanctuary of home for
refreshment and rest:

"That truest, rarest light of social joy,
Which gleams upon the man of many cares."

"Business," says Sir Henry Taylor, "does but lay waste the
approaches to the heart, whilst marriage garrisons the fortress."
And however the head may be occupied, by labours of ambition or of
business--if the heart be not occupied by affection for others
and sympathy with them--life, though it may appear to the outer
world to be a success, will probably be no success at all,
but a failure. (4)

A man's real character will always be more visible in his
household than anywhere else; and his practical wisdom will be
better exhibited by the manner in which he bears rule there, than
even in the larger affairs of business or public life. His whole
mind may be in his business; but, if he would be happy, his whole
heart must be in his home. It is there that his genuine qualities
most surely display themselves--there that he shows his
truthfulness, his love, his sympathy, his consideration for
others, his uprightness, his manliness--in a word, his character.
If affection be not the governing principle in a household,
domestic life may be the most intolerable of despotisms. Without
justice, also, there can be neither love, confidence, nor respect,
on which all true domestic rule is founded.

Erasmus speaks of Sir Thomas More's home as "a school and exercise
of the Christian religion." "No wrangling, no angry word was
heard in it; no one was idle; every one did his duty with
alacrity, and not without a temperate cheerfulness." Sir Thomas
won all hearts to obedience by his gentleness. He was a man
clothed in household goodness; and he ruled so gently and wisely,
that his home was pervaded by an atmosphere of love and duty. He
himself spoke of the hourly interchange of the smaller acts of
kindness with the several members of his family, as having a claim
upon his time as strong as those other public occupations of his
life which seemed to others so much more serious and important.

But the man whose affections are quickened by home-life, does not
confine his sympathies within that comparatively narrow sphere.
His love enlarges in the family, and through the family it expands
into the world. "Love," says Emerson, "is a fire that, kindling
its first embers in the narrow nook of a private bosom, caught
from a wandering spark out of another private heart, glows and
enlarges until it warms and beams upon multitudes of men and
women, upon the universal heart of all, and so lights up the whole
world and nature with its generous flames."

It is by the regimen of domestic affection that the heart of man
is best composed and regulated. The home is the woman's kingdom,
her state, her world--where she governs by affection, by
kindness, by the power of gentleness. There is nothing which so
settles the turbulence of a man's nature as his union in life with
a highminded woman. There he finds rest, contentment, and
happiness--rest of brain and peace of spirit. He will also often
find in her his best counsellor, for her instinctive tact will
usually lead him right when his own unaided reason might be apt to
go wrong. The true wife is a staff to lean upon in times of trial
and difficulty; and she is never wanting in sympathy and solace
when distress occurs or fortune frowns. In the time of youth, she
is a comfort and an ornament of man's life; and she remains a
faithful helpmate in maturer years, when life has ceased to be an
anticipation, and we live in its realities.

What a happy man must Edmund Burke have been, when he could say of
his home, "Every care vanishes the moment I enter under my own
roof!" And Luther, a man full of human affection, speaking of his
wife, said, "I would not exchange my poverty with her for all the
riches of Croesus without her." Of marriage he observed: "The
utmost blessing that God can confer on a man is the possession of
a good and pious wife, with whom he may live in peace and
tranquillity--to whom he may confide his whole possessions, even
his life and welfare." And again he said, "To rise betimes, and
to marry young, are what no man ever repents of doing."

For a man to enjoy true repose and happiness in marriage, he must
have in his wife a soul-mate as well as a helpmate. But it is not
requisite that she should be merely a pale copy of himself. A man
no more desires in his wife a manly woman, than the woman desires
in her husband a feminine man. A woman's best qualities do not
reside in her intellect, but in her affections. She gives
refreshment by her sympathies, rather than by her knowledge. "The
brain-women," says Oliver Wendell Holmes, "never interest us like
the heart-women." (5) Men are often so wearied with themselves,
that they are rather predisposed to admire qualities and tastes in
others different from their own. "If I were suddenly asked," says
Mr. Helps, "to give a proof of the goodness of God to us, I think
I should say that it is most manifest in the exquisite difference
He has made between the souls of men and women, so as to create
the possibility of the most comforting and charming companionship
that the mind of man can imagine." (6) But though no man may love
a woman for her understanding, it is not the less necessary for
her to cultivate it on that account. (7) There may be difference
in character, but there must be harmony of mind and sentiment--
two intelligent souls as well as two loving hearts:

"Two heads in council, two beside the hearth,
Two in the tangled business of the world,
Two in the liberal offices of life."

There are few men who have written so wisely on the subject of
marriage as Sir Henry Taylor. What he says about the influence of
a happy union in its relation to successful statesmanship, applies
to all conditions of life. The true wife, he says, should possess
such qualities as will tend to make home as much as may be a place
of repose. To this end, she should have sense enough or worth
enough to exempt her husband as much as possible from the troubles
of family management, and more especially from all possibility of
debt. "She should be pleasing to his eyes and to his taste: the
taste goes deep into the nature of all men--love is hardly apart
from it; and in a life of care and excitement, that home which is
not the seat of love cannot be a place of repose; rest for the
brain, and peace for the spirit, being only to be had through the
softening of the affections. He should look for a clear
understanding, cheerfulness, and alacrity of mind, rather than
gaiety and brilliancy, and for a gentle tenderness of disposition
in preference to an impassioned nature. Lively talents are too
stimulating in a tired man's house--passion is too disturbing....

"Her love should be
A love that clings not, nor is exigent,
Encumbers not the active purposes,
Nor drains their source; but profers with free grace
Pleasure at pleasure touched, at pleasure waived,
A washing of the weary traveller's feet,
A quenching of his thirst, a sweet repose,
Alternate and preparative; in groves
Where, loving much the flower that loves the shade,
And loving much the shade that that flower loves,
He yet is unbewildered, unenslaved,
Thence starting light, and pleasantly let go
When serious service calls. (8)

Some persons are disappointed in marriage, because they expect too
much from it; but many more, because they do not bring into the
co-partnership their fair share of cheerfulness, kindliness,
forbearance, and common sense. Their imagination has perhaps
pictured a condition never experienced on this side Heaven; and
when real life comes, with its troubles and cares, there is a
sudden waking-up as from a dream. Or they look for something
approaching perfection in their chosen companion, and discover by
experience that the fairest of characters have their weaknesses.
Yet it is often the very imperfection of human nature, rather than
its perfection, that makes the strongest claims on the forbearance
and sympathy of others, and, in affectionate and sensible natures,
tends to produce the closest unions.

The golden rule of married life is, "Bear and forbear." Marriage,
like government, is a series of compromises. One must give and
take, refrain and restrain, endure and be patient. One may not be
blind to another's failings, but they may be borne with good-
natured forbearance. Of all qualities, good temper is the one
that wears and works the best in married life. Conjoined with
self-control, it gives patience--the patience to bear and
forbear, to listen without retort, to refrain until the angry
flash has passed. How true it is in marriage, that "the soft
answer turneth away wrath!"

Burns the poet, in speaking of the qualities of a good wife,
divided them into ten parts. Four of these he gave to good
temper, two to good sense, one to wit, one to beauty--such as a
sweet face, eloquent eyes, a fine person, a graceful carriage; and
the other two parts he divided amongst the other qualities
belonging to or attending on a wife--such as fortune,
connections, education (that is, of a higher standard than
ordinary), family blood, &c.; but he said: "Divide those two
degrees as you please, only remember that all these minor
proportions must be expressed by fractions, for there is not any
one of them that is entitled to the dignity of an integer."

It has been said that girls are very good at making nets, but
that it would be better still if they would learn to make cages.
Men are often as easily caught as birds, but as difficult to keep.
If the wife cannot make her home bright and happy, so that it
shall be the cleanest, sweetest, cheerfulest place that her
husband can find refuge in--a retreat from the toils and
troubles of the outer world--then God help the poor man,
for he is virtually homeless!

No wise person will marry for beauty mainly. It may exercise a
powerful attraction in the first place, but it is found to be of
comparatively little consequence afterwards. Not that beauty of
person is to be underestimated, for, other things being equal,
handsomeness of form and beauty of features are the outward
manifestations of health. But to marry a handsome figure without
character, fine features unbeautified by sentiment or good-nature,
is the most deplorable of mistakes. As even the finest landscape,
seen daily, becomes monotonous, so does the most beautiful face,
unless a beautiful nature shines through it. The beauty of to-day
becomes commonplace to-morrow; whereas goodness, displayed through
the most ordinary features, is perennially lovely. Moreover, this
kind of beauty improves with age, and time ripens rather than
destroys it. After the first year, married people rarely think of
each other's features, and whether they be classically beautiful
or otherwise. But they never fail to be cognisant of each other's
temper. "When I see a man," says Addison, "with a sour rivelled
face, I cannot forbear pitying his wife; and when I meet with an
open ingenuous countenance, I think of the happiness of his
friends, his family, and his relations."

We have given the views of the poet Burns as to the qualities
necessary in a good wife. Let us add the advice given by Lord
Burleigh to his son, embodying the experience of a wise statesman
and practised man of the world. "When it shall please God," said
he, "to bring thee to man's estate, use great providence and
circumspection in choosing thy wife; for from thence will spring
all thy future good or evil. And it is an action of thy life,
like unto a stratagem of war, wherein a man can err but once....
Enquire diligently of her disposition, and how her parents have
been inclined in their youth. (9) Let her not be poor, how
generous (well-born) soever; for a man can buy nothing in the
market with gentility. Nor choose a base and uncomely creature
altogether for wealth; for it will cause contempt in others, and
loathing in thee. Neither make choice of a dwarf, or a fool; for
by the one thou shalt beget a race of pigmies, while the other
will be thy continual disgrace, and it will yirke (irk) thee to
hear her talk. For thou shalt find it to thy great grief, that
there is nothing more fulsome (disgusting) than a she-fool."

A man's moral character is, necessarily, powerfully influenced by
his wife. A lower nature will drag him down, as a higher will
lift him up. The former will deaden his sympathies, dissipate his
energies, and distort his life; while the latter, by satisfying
his affections, will strengthen his moral nature, and by giving
him repose, tend to energise his intellect. Not only so, but a
woman of high principles will insensibly elevate the aims and
purposes of her husband, as one of low principles will
unconsciously degrade them. De Tocqueville was profoundly
impressed by this truth. He entertained the opinion that man
could have no such mainstay in life as the companionship of a wife
of good temper and high principle. He says that in the course of
his life, he had seen even weak men display real public virtue,
because they had by their side a woman of noble character, who
sustained them in their career, and exercised a fortifying
influence on their views of public duty; whilst, on the contrary,
he had still oftener seen men of great and generous instincts
transformed into vulgar self-seekers, by contact with women of
narrow natures, devoted to an imbecile love of pleasure, and from
whose minds the grand motive of Duty was altogether absent.

De Tocqueville himself had the good fortune to be blessed with an
admirable wife: (10) and in his letters to his intimate friends, he
spoke most gratefully of the comfort and support he derived from
her sustaining courage, her equanimity of temper, and her nobility
of character. The more, indeed, that De Tocqueville saw of the
world and of practical life, the more convinced he became of the
necessity of healthy domestic conditions for a man's growth in
virtue and goodness. (11) Especially did he regard marriage as of
inestimable importance in regard to a man's true happiness; and he
was accustomed to speak of his own as the wisest action of his
life. "Many external circumstances of happiness," he said, "have
been granted to me. But more than all, I have to thank Heaven for
having bestowed on me true domestic happiness, the first of human
blessings. As I grow older, the portion of my life which in my
youth I used to look down upon, every day becomes more important
in my eyes, and would now easily console me for the loss of all
the rest." And again, writing to his bosom-friend, De Kergorlay,
he said: "Of all the blessings which God has given to me, the
greatest of all in my eyes is to have lighted on Marie. You
cannot imagine what she is in great trials. Usually so gentle,
she then becomes strong and energetic. She watches me without my
knowing it; she softens, calms, and strengthens me in difficulties
which disturb ME, but leave her serene." (12) In another letter he
says: "I cannot describe to you the happiness yielded in the long
run by the habitual society of a woman in whose soul all that is
good in your own is reflected naturally, and even improved. When
I say or do a thing which seems to me to be perfectly right, I
read immediately in Marie's countenance an expression of proud
satisfaction which elevates me. And so, when my conscience
reproaches me, her face instantly clouds over. Although I have
great power over her mind, I see with pleasure that she awes me;
and so long as I love her as I do now, I am sure that I shall
never allow myself to be drawn into anything that is wrong."

In the retired life which De Tocqueville led as a literary man--
political life being closed against him by the inflexible
independence of his character--his health failed, and he became
ill, irritable, and querulous. While proceeding with his last
work, 'L'Ancien Regime et la Revolution,' he wrote: "After sitting
at my desk for five or six hours, I can write no longer; the
machine refuses to act. I am in great want of rest, and of a long
rest. If you add all the perplexities that besiege an author
towards the end of his work, you will be able to imagine a very
wretched life. I could not go on with my task if it were not for
the refreshing calm of Marie's companionship. It would be
impossible to find a disposition forming a happier contrast to my
own. In my perpetual irritability of body and mind, she is a
providential resource that never fails me." (13)

M. Guizot was, in like manner, sustained and encouraged, amidst
his many vicissitudes and disappointments, by his noble wife. If
he was treated with harshness by his political enemies, his
consolation was in the tender affection which filled his home with
sunshine. Though his public life was bracing and stimulating, he
felt, nevertheless, that it was cold and calculating, and neither
filled the soul nor elevated the character. "Man longs for a
happiness," he says in his 'Memoires,' more complete and more
tender than that which all the labours and triumphs of active
exertion and public importance can bestow. What I know to-day, at
the end of my race, I have felt when it began, and during its
continuance. Even in the midst of great undertakings, domestic
affections form the basis of life; and the most brilliant career
has only superficial and incomplete enjoyments, if a stranger to
the happy ties of family and friendship."

The circumstances connected with M. Guizot's courtship and
marriage are curious and interesting. While a young man living by
his pen in Paris, writing books, reviews, and translations, he
formed a casual acquaintance with Mademoiselle Pauline de Meulan,
a lady of great ability, then editor of the PUBLICISTE. A severe
domestic calamity having befallen her, she fell ill, and was
unable for a time to carry on the heavy literary work connected
with her journal. At this juncture a letter without any signature
reached her one day, offering a supply of articles, which the
writer hoped would be worthy of the reputation of the PUBLICISTE.
The articles duly arrived, were accepted, and published. They
dealt with a great variety of subjects--art, literature,
theatricals, and general criticism. When the editor at length
recovered from her illness, the writer of the articles disclosed
himself: it was M. Guizot. An intimacy sprang up between them,
which ripened into mutual affection, and before long Mademoiselle
de Meulan became his wife.

From that time forward, she shared in all her husband's joys and
sorrows, as well as in many of his labours. Before they became
united, he asked her if she thought she should ever become
dismayed at the vicissitudes of his destiny, which he then saw
looming before him. She replied that he might assure himself that
she would always passionately enjoy his triumphs, but never heave
a sigh over his defeats. When M. Guizot became first minister of
Louis Philippe, she wrote to a friend: "I now see my husband much
less than I desire, but still I see him.... If God spares us to
each other, I shall always be, in the midst of every trial and
apprehension, the happiest of beings." Little more than six
months after these words were written, the devoted wife was laid
in her grave; and her sorrowing husband was left thenceforth to
tread the journey of life alone.

Burke was especially happy in his union with Miss Nugent, a
beautiful, affectionate, and highminded woman. The agitation
and anxiety of his public life was more than compensated
by his domestic happiness, which seems to have been complete.
It was a saying of Burke, thoroughly illustrative of his
character, that "to love the little platoon we belong to
in society is the germ of all public affections." His
description of his wife, in her youth, is probably one
of the finest word-portraits in the language:--

"She is handsome; but it is a beauty not arising from features,
from complexion, or from shape. She has all three in a high
degree, but it is not by these she touches the heart; it is all
that sweetness of temper, benevolence, innocence, and sensibility,
which a face can express, that forms her beauty. She has a face
that just raises your attention at first sight; it grows on you
every moment, and you wonder it did no more than raise your
attention at first.

"Her eyes have a mild light, but they awe when she pleases;
they command, like a good man out of office, not by authority,
but by virtue.

"Her stature is not tall; she is not made to be the admiration
of everybody, but the happiness of one.

"She has all the firmness that does not exclude delicacy;
she has all the softness that does not imply weakness.

"Her voice is a soft low music--not formed to rule in public
assemblies, but to charm those who can distinguish a company
from a crowd; it has this advantage--YOU MUST COME CLOSE TO
HER TO HEAR IT.

"To describe her body describes her mind--one is the transcript
of the other; her understanding is not shown in the variety
of matters it exerts itself on, but in the goodness of the
choice she makes.

"She does not display it so much in saying or doing striking
things, as in avoiding such as she ought not to say or do.

"No person of so few years can know the world better; no person
was ever less corrupted by the knowledge of it.

"Her politeness flows rather from a natural disposition to oblige,
than from any rules on that subject, and therefore never fails to
strike those who understand good breeding and those who do not.

"She has a steady and firm mind, which takes no more from the
solidity of the female character than the solidity of marble does
from its polish and lustre. She has such virtues as make us value
the truly great of our own sex. She has all the winning graces
that make us love even the faults we see in the weak and
beautiful, in hers."

Let us give, as a companion picture, the not less beautiful
delineation of a husband, that of Colonel Hutchinson, the
Commonwealth man, by his widow. Shortly before his death,
he enjoined her "not to grieve at the common rate of desolate
women." And, faithful to his injunction, instead of lamenting
his loss, she indulged her noble sorrow in depicting her husband
as he had lived.

"They who dote on mortal excellences," she says, in her
Introduction to the 'Life,' "when, by the inevitable fate of all
things frail, their adored idols are taken from them, may let
loose the winds of passion to bring in a flood of sorrow, whose
ebbing tides carry away the dear memory of what they have lost;
and when comfort is essayed to such mourners, commonly all objects
are removed out of their view which may with their remembrance
renew the grief; and in time these remedies succeed, and
oblivion's curtain is by degrees drawn over the dead face; and
things less lovely are liked, while they are not viewed together
with that which was most excellent. But I, that am under a
command not to grieve at the common rate of desolate women, (14)
while I am studying which way to moderate my woe, and if it were
possible to augment my love, I can for the present find out none
more just to your dear father, nor consolatory to myself, than the
preservation of his memory, which I need not gild with such
flattering commendations as hired preachers do equally give to the
truly and titularly honourable. A naked undressed narrative,
speaking the simple truth of him, will deck him with more
substantial glory, than all the panegyrics the best pens could
ever consecrate to the virtues of the best men."

The following is the wife's portrait of Colonel Hutchinson
as a husband:--

"For conjugal affection to his wife, it was such in him as
whosoever would draw out a rule of honour, kindness, and religion,
to be practised in that estate, need no more but exactly draw out
his example. Never man had a greater passion for a woman, nor a
more honourable esteem of a wife: yet he was not uxorious, nor
remitted he that just rule which it was her honour to obey, but
managed the reins of government with such prudence and affection,
that she who could not delight in such an honourable and
advantageable subjection, must have wanted a reasonable soul.

"He governed by persuasion, which he never employed but to things
honourable and profitable to herself; he loved her soul and her
honour more than her outside, and yet he had ever for her person a
constant indulgence, exceeding the common temporary passion of the
most uxorious fools. If he esteemed her at a higher rate than she
in herself could have deserved, he was the author of that virtue
he doated on, while she only reflected his own glories upon him.
All that she was, was HIM, while he was here, and all that she is
now, at best, is but his pale shade.

"So liberal was he to her, and of so generous a temper, that he
hated the mention of severed purses, his estate being so much at
her disposal that he never would receive an account of anything
she expended. So constant was he in his love, that when she
ceased to be young and lovely he began to show most fondness. He
loved her at such a kind and generous rate as words cannot
express. Yet even this, which was the highest love he or any man
could have, was bounded by a superior: he loved her in the Lord as
his fellow-creature, not his idol; but in such a manner as showed
that an affection, founded on the just rules of duty, far exceeds
every way all the irregular passions in the world. He loved God
above her, and all the other dear pledges of his heart, and for
his glory cheerfully resigned them." (15)

Lady Rachel Russell is another of the women of history celebrated
for her devotion and faithfulness as a wife. She laboured and
pleaded for her husband's release so long as she could do so
with honour; but when she saw that all was in vain, she collected
her courage, and strove by her example to strengthen the resolution
of her dear lord. And when his last hour had nearly come, and
his wife and children waited to receive his parting embrace,
she, brave to the end, that she might not add to his distress,
concealed the agony of her grief under a seeming composure;
and they parted, after a tender adieu, in silence. After
she had gone, Lord William said, "Now the bitterness of
death is passed!" (16)

We have spoken of the influence of a wife upon a man's character.
There are few men strong enough to resist the influence of a lower
character in a wife. If she do not sustain and elevate what is
highest in his nature, she will speedily reduce him to her own
level. Thus a wife may be the making or the unmaking of the best
of men. An illustration of this power is furnished in the life of
Bunyan. The profligate tinker had the good fortune to marry, in
early life, a worthy young woman of good parentage. "My mercy,"
he himself says, "was to light upon a wife whose father and mother
were accounted godly. This woman and I, though we came together
as poor as poor might be (not having so much household stuff as a
dish or a spoon betwixt us both), yet she had for her part, 'The
Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven,' and 'The Practice of Piety,' which
her father had left her when he died." And by reading these and
other good books; helped by the kindly influence of his wife,
Bunyan was gradually reclaimed from his evil ways, and led gently
into the paths of peace.

Richard Baxter, the Nonconformist divine, was far advanced in life
before he met the excellent woman who eventually became his wife.
He was too laboriously occupied in his vocation of minister to
have any time to spare for courtship; and his marriage was, as in
the case of Calvin, as much a matter of convenience as of love.
Miss Charlton, the lady of his choice, was the owner of property
in her own right; but lest it should be thought that Baxter
married her for "covetousness," he requested, first, that she
should give over to her relatives the principal part of her
fortune, and that "he should have nothing that before her marriage
was hers;" secondly, that she should so arrange her affairs "as
that he might be entangled in no lawsuits;" and, thirdly, "that
she should expect none of the time that his ministerial work might
require." These several conditions the bride having complied
with, the marriage took place, and proved a happy one. "We
lived," said Baxter, "in inviolated love and mutual complacency,
sensible of the benefit of mutual help, nearly nineteen years."
Yet the life of Baxter was one of great trials and troubles,
arising from the unsettled state of the times in which he lived.
He was hunted about from one part of the country to another, and
for several years he had no settled dwelling-place. "The women,
he gently remarks in his 'Life,' "have most of that sort of
trouble, but my wife easily bore it all." In the sixth year of
his marriage Baxter was brought before the magistrates at
Brentford, for holding a conventicle at Acton, and was sentenced
by them to be imprisoned in Clerkenwell Gaol. There he was joined
by his wife, who affectionately nursed him during his confinement.
"She was never so cheerful a companion to me," he says, "as in
prison, and was very much against me seeking to be released." At
length he was set at liberty by the judges of the Court of Common
Pleas, to whom he had appealed against the sentence of the
magistrates. At the death of Mrs. Baxter, after a very troubled
yet happy and cheerful life, her husband left a touching portrait
of the graces, virtues, and Christian character of this excellent
woman--one of the most charming things to be found in his works.

The noble Count Zinzendorf was united to an equally noble woman,
who bore him up through life by her great spirit, and sustained
him in all his labours by her unfailing courage. "Twenty-four
years' experience has shown me," he said, "that just the helpmate
whom I have is the only one that could suit my vocation. Who else
could have so carried through my family affairs?--who lived so
spotlessly before the world? Who so wisely aided me in my
rejection of a dry morality?.... Who would, like she, without a
murmur, have seen her husband encounter such dangers by land and
sea?--who undertaken with him, and sustained, such astonishing
pilgrimages? Who, amid such difficulties, could have held up her
head and supported me?.... And finally, who, of all human beings,
could so well understand and interpret to others my inner and
outer being as this one, of such nobleness in her way of thinking,
such great intellectual capacity, and free from the theological
perplexities that so often enveloped me?

One of the brave Dr. Livingstone's greatest trials during his
travels in South Africa was the death of his affectionate wife,
who had shared his dangers, and accompanied him in so many of his
wanderings. In communicating the intelligence of her decease at
Shupanga, on the River Zambesi, to his friend Sir Roderick
Murchison, Dr. Livingstone said: "I must confess that this heavy
stroke quite takes the heart out of me. Everything else that has
happened only made me more determined to overcome all
difficulties; but after this sad stroke I feel crushed and void of
strength. Only three short months of her society, after four
years separation! I married her for love, and the longer I lived
with her I loved her the more. A good wife, and a good, brave,
kindhearted mother was she, deserving all the praises you bestowed
upon her at our parting dinner, for teaching her own and the
native children, too, at Kolobeng. I try to bow to the blow as
from our Heavenly Father, who orders all things for us.... I shall
do my duty still, but it is with a darkened horizon that I again
set about it."

Sir Samuel Romilly left behind him, in his Autobiography, a
touching picture of his wife, to whom he attributed no small
measure of the success and happiness that accompanied him through
life. "For the last fifteen years," he said, "my happiness has
been the constant study of the most excellent of wives: a woman in
whom a strong understanding, the noblest and most elevated
sentiments, and the most courageous virtue, are united to the
warmest affection, and to the utmost delicacy of mind and heart;
and all these intellectual perfections are graced by the most
splendid beauty that human eyes ever beheld." (17) Romilly's
affection and admiration for this noble woman endured to the end;
and when she died, the shock proved greater than his sensitive
nature could bear. Sleep left his eyelids, his mind became
unhinged, and three days after her death the sad event occurred
which brought his own valued life to a close. (18)

Sir Francis Burdett, to whom Romilly had been often politically
opposed, fell into such a state of profound melancholy on the
death of his wife, that he persistently refused nourishment of any
kind, and died before the removal of her remains from the house;
and husband and wife were laid side by side in the same grave.

It was grief for the loss of his wife that sent Sir Thomas Graham
into the army at the age of forty-three. Every one knows the
picture of the newly-wedded pair by Gainsborough--one of the most
exquisite of that painter's works. They lived happily together
for eighteen years, and then she died, leaving him inconsolable.
To forget his sorrow--and, as some thought, to get rid of the
weariness of his life without her--Graham joined Lord Hood as a
volunteer, and distinguished himself by the recklessness of his
bravery at the siege of Toulon. He served all through the
Peninsular War, first under Sir John Moore, and afterwards under
Wellington; rising through the various grades of the service,
until he rose to be second in command. He was commonly known as
the "hero of Barossa," because of his famous victory at that
place; and he was eventually raised to the peerage as Lord
Lynedoch, ending his days peacefully at a very advanced age. But
to the last he tenderly cherished the memory of his dead wife, to
the love of whom he may be said to have owed all his glory.
"Never," said Sheridan of him, when pronouncing his eulogy in
the House of Commons--"never was there seated a loftier spirit
in a braver heart."

And so have noble wives cherished the memory of their husbands.
There is a celebrated monument in Vienna, erected to the memory of
one of the best generals of the Austrian army, on which there is
an inscription, setting forth his great services during the Seven
Years' War, concluding with the words, "NON PATRIA, NEC IMPERATOR,
SED CONJUX POSUIT." When Sir Albert Morton died, his wife's grief
was such that she shortly followed him, and was laid by his side.
Wotton's two lines on the event have been celebrated as containing
a volume in seventeen words:

"He first deceased; she for a little tried
To live without him, liked it not, and died."

So, when Washington's wife was informed that her dear lord had
suffered his last agony--had drawn his last breath, and departed
--she said: "'Tis well; all is now over. I shall soon follow him;
I have no more trials to pass through."

Not only have women been the best companions, friends, and
consolers, but they have in many cases been the most effective
helpers of their husbands in their special lines of work. Galvani
was especially happy in his wife. She was the daughter of
Professor Galeazzi; and it is said to have been through her quick
observation of the circumstance of the leg of a frog, placed near
an electrical machine, becoming convulsed when touched by a knife,
that her husband was first led to investigate the science which
has since become identified with his name. Lavoisier's wife also
was a woman of real scientific ability, who not only shared in her
husband's pursuits, but even undertook the task of engraving the
plates that accompanied his 'Elements.'

The late Dr. Buckland had another true helper in his wife, who
assisted him with her pen, prepared and mended his fossils, and
furnished many of the drawings and illustrations of his published
works. "Notwithstanding her devotion to her husband's pursuits,"
says her son, Frank Buckland, in the preface to one of his
father's works, "she did not neglect the education of her
children, but occupied her mornings in superintending their
instruction in sound and useful knowledge. The sterling value of
her labours they now, in after-life, fully appreciate, and feel
most thankful that they were blessed with so good a mother." (19)

A still more remarkable instance of helpfulness in a wife is
presented in the case of Huber, the Geneva naturalist. Huber was
blind from his seventeenth year, and yet he found means to study
and master a branch of natural history demanding the closest
observation and the keenest eyesight. It was through the eyes of
his wife that his mind worked as if they had been his own. She
encouraged her husband's studies as a means of alleviating his
privation, which at length he came to forget; and his life was as
prolonged and happy as is usual with most naturalists. He even
went so far as to declare that he should be miserable were he to
regain his eyesight. "I should not know," he said, "to what
extent a person in my situation could be beloved; besides, to me
my wife is always young, fresh, and pretty, which is no light
matter." Huber's great work on 'Bees' is still regarded as a
masterpiece, embodying a vast amount of original observation on
their habits and natural history. Indeed, while reading his
descriptions, one would suppose that they were the work of a
singularly keensighted man, rather than of one who had been
entirely blind for twenty-five years at the time at which
he wrote them.

Not less touching was the devotion of Lady Hamilton to the service
of her husband, the late Sir William Hamilton, Professor of Logic
and Metaphysics in the University of Edinburgh. After he had been
stricken by paralysis through overwork at the age of fifty-six,
she became hands, eyes, mind, and everything to him. She
identified herself with his work, read and consulted books for
him, copied out and corrected his lectures, and relieved him of
all business which she felt herself competent to undertake.
Indeed, her conduct as a wife was nothing short of heroic; and it
is probable that but for her devoted and more than wifely help,
and her rare practical ability, the greatest of her husband's
works would never have seen the light. He was by nature
unmethodical and disorderly, and she supplied him with method and
orderliness. His temperament was studious but indolent, while she
was active and energetic. She abounded in the qualities which he
most lacked. He had the genius, to which her vigorous nature
gave the force and impulse.

When Sir William Hamilton was elected to his Professorship, after
a severe and even bitter contest, his opponents, professing to
regard him as a visionary, predicted that he could never teach a
class of students, and that his appointment would prove a total
failure. He determined, with the help of his wife, to justify the
choice of his supporters, and to prove that his enemies were false
prophets. Having no stock of lectures on hand, each lecture of
the first course was written out day by day, as it was to be
delivered on the following morning. His wife sat up with him
night after night, to write out a fair copy of the lectures from
the rough sheets, which he drafted in the adjoining room. "On
some occasions," says his biographer, "the subject of the lectures
would prove less easily managed than on others; and then Sir
William would be found writing as late as nine o'clock in the
morning, while his faithful but wearied amanuensis had fallen
asleep on a sofa." (20)

Sometimes the finishing touches to the lecture were left to be
given just before the class-hour. Thus helped, Sir William
completed his course; his reputation as a lecturer was
established; and he eventually became recognised throughout Europe
as one of the leading intellects of his time. (21)

The woman who soothes anxiety by her presence, who charms and
allays irritability by her sweetness of temper, is a consoler as
well as a true helper. Niebuhr always spoke of his wife as a
fellow-worker with him in this sense. Without the peace and
consolation which be found in her society, his nature would have
fretted in comparative uselessness. "Her sweetness of temper and
her love," said he, "raise me above the earth, and in a manner
separate me from this life." But she was a helper in another and
more direct way. Niebuhr was accustomed to discuss with his wife
every historical discovery, every political event, every novelty
in literature; and it was mainly for her pleasure and approbation,
in the first instance, that he laboured while preparing himself
for the instruction of the world at large.

The wife of John Stuart Mill was another worthy helper of her
husband, though in a more abstruse department of study, as we
learn from his touching dedication of the treatise 'On Liberty':--
"To the beloved and deplored memory of her who was the inspirer,
and in part the author, of all that is best in my writings--the
friend and wife, whose exalted sense of truth and right was my
strongest incitement, and whose approbation was my chief reward, I
dedicate this volume." Not less touching is the testimony borne
by another great living writer to the character of his wife, in
the inscription upon the tombstone of Mrs. Carlyle in Haddington
Churchyard, where are inscribed these words:- "In her bright
existence, she had more sorrows than are common, but also a soft
amiability, a capacity of discernment, and a noble loyalty of
heart, which are rare. For forty years she was the true and
loving helpmate of her husband, and by act and word unweariedly
forwarded him as none else could, in all of worthy that he
did or attempted"

The married life of Faraday was eminently happy. In his wife he
found, at the same time, a true helpmate and soul-mate. She
supported, cheered, and strengthened him on his way through life,
giving him "the clear contentment of a heart at ease." In his
diary he speaks of his marriage as "a source of honour and
happiness far exceeding all the rest." After twentyeight years'
experience, he spoke of it as "an event which, more than any
other, had contributed to his earthly happiness and healthy state
of mind.... The union (said he) has in nowise changed, except
only in the depth and strength of its character." And for six-
and-forty years did the union continue unbroken; the love of the
old man remaining as fresh, as earnest, as heart-whole, as in the
days of his impetuous youth. In this case, marriage was as--

"A golden chain let down from heaven,
Whose links are bright and even;
That falls like sleep on lovers, and combines
The soft and sweetest minds
In equal knots."

Besides being a helper, woman is emphatically a consoler. Her
sympathy is unfailing. She soothes, cheers, and comforts. Never
was this more true than in the case of the wife of Tom Hood, whose
tender devotion to him, during a life that was a prolonged
illness, is one of the most affecting things in biography. A
woman of excellent good sense, she appreciated her husband's
genius, and, by encouragement and sympathy, cheered and heartened
him to renewed effort in many a weary struggle for life. She
created about him an atmosphere of hope and cheerfulness, and
nowhere did the sunshine of her love seem so bright as when
lighting up the couch of her invalid husband.

Nor was he unconscious of her worth. In one of his letters to
her, when absent from his side, Hood said: "I never was anything,
Dearest, till I knew you; and I have been a better, happier, and
more prosperous man ever since. Lay by that truth in lavender,
Sweetest, and remind me of it when I fail. I am writing warmly
and fondly, but not without good cause. First, your own
affectionate letter, lately received; next, the remembrance of our
dear children, pledges--what darling ones!--of our old familiar
love; then, a delicious impulse to pour out the overflowings of my
heart into yours; and last, not least, the knowledge that your
dear eyes will read what my hand is now writing. Perhaps there is
an afterthought that, whatever may befall me, the wife of my bosom
will have the acknowledgment of her tenderness, worth, excellence
--all that is wifely or womanly, from my pen." In another letter,
also written to his wife during a brief absence, there is a
natural touch, showing his deep affection for her: "I went and
retraced our walk in the park, and sat down on the same seat, and
felt happier and better."

But not only was Mrs. Hood a consoler, she was also a helper of
her husband in his special work. He had such confidence in her
judgment, that he read, and re-read, and corrected with her
assistance all that he wrote. Many of his pieces were first
dedicated to her; and her ready memory often supplied him with
the necessary references and quotations. Thus, in the roll
of noble wives of men of genius, Mrs. Hood will always be
entitled to take a foremost place.

Not less effective as a literary helper was Lady Napier, the wife
of Sir William Napier, historian of the Peninsular War. She
encouraged him to undertake the work, and without her help he
would have experienced great difficulty in completing it. She
translated and epitomized the immense mass of original documents,
many of them in cipher, on which it was in a great measure
founded. When the Duke of Wellington was told of the art and
industry she had displayed in deciphering King Joseph's portfolio,
and the immense mass of correspondence taken at Vittoria, he at
first would hardly believe it, adding--"I would have given
20,000L. to any person who could have done this for me in the
Peninsula." Sir William Napier's handwriting being almost
illegible, Lady Napier made out his rough interlined manuscript,
which he himself could scarcely read, and wrote out a full fair
copy for the printer; and all this vast labour she undertook and
accomplished, according to the testimony of her husband, without
having for a moment neglected the care and education of a large
family. When Sir William lay on his deathbed, Lady Napier was at
the same time dangerously ill; but she was wheeled into his room
on a sofa, and the two took their silent farewell of each other.
The husband died first; in a few weeks the wife followed him, and
they sleep side by side in the same grave.

Many other similar truehearted wives rise up in the memory, to
recite whose praises would more than fill up our remaining space--
such as Flaxman's wife, Ann Denham, who cheered and encouraged her
husband through life in the prosecution of his art, accompanying
him to Rome, sharing in his labours and anxieties, and finally in
his triumphs, and to whom Flaxman, in the fortieth year of their
married life, dedicated his beautiful designs illustrative of
Faith, Hope, and Charity, in token of his deep and undimmed
affection;--such as Katherine Boutcher, "dark-eyed Kate," the
wife of William Blake, who believed her husband to be the first
genius on earth, worked off the impressions of his plates and
coloured them beautifully with her own hand, bore with him in all
his erratic ways, sympathised with him in his sorrows and joys for
forty-five years, and comforted him until his dying hour--his
last sketch, made in his seventy-first year, being a likeness of
himself, before making which, seeing his wife crying by his side,
he said, "Stay, Kate! just keep as you are; I will draw your
portrait, for you have ever been an angel to me;"--such again as
Lady Franklin, the true and noble woman, who never rested in her
endeavours to penetrate the secret of the Polar Sea and prosecute
the search for her long-lost husband--undaunted by failure, and
persevering in her determination with a devotion and singleness of
purpose altogether unparalleled;--or such again as the wife of
Zimmermann, whose intense melancholy she strove in vain to
assuage, sympathizing with him, listening to him, and endeavouring
to understand him--and to whom, when on her deathbed, about to
leave him for ever, she addressed the touching words, "My poor
Zimmermann! who will now understand thee?"

Wives have actively helped their husbands in other ways. Before
Weinsberg surrendered to its besiegers, the women of the place
asked permission of the captors to remove their valuables. The
permission was granted, and shortly after, the women were seen
issuing from the gates carrying their husbands on their shoulders.
Lord Nithsdale owed his escape from prison to the address of his
wife, who changed garments with him, sending him forth in her
stead, and herself remaining prisoner,--an example which was
successfully repeated by Madame de Lavalette.

But the most remarkable instance of the release of a husband
through the devotion of a wife, was that of the celebrated
Grotius. He had lain for nearly twenty months in the strong
fortress of Loevestein, near Gorcum, having been condemned by the
government of the United Provinces to perpetual imprisonment. His
wife, having been allowed to share his cell, greatly relieved his
solitude. She was permitted to go into the town twice a week, and
bring her husband books, of which he required a large number to
enable him to prosecute his studies. At length a large chest was
required to hold them. This the sentries at first examined with
great strictness, but, finding that it only contained books
(amongst others Arminian books) and linen, they at length gave up
the search, and it was allowed to pass out and in as a matter of
course. This led Grotius' wife to conceive the idea of releasing
him; and she persuaded him one day to deposit himself in the chest
instead of the outgoing books. When the two soldiers appointed to
remove it took it up, they felt it to be considerably heavier than
usual, and one of them asked, jestingly, "Have we got the Arminian
himself here?" to which the ready-witted wife replied, "Yes,
perhaps some Arminian books." The chest reached Gorcum in safety;
the captive was released; and Grotius escaped across the frontier
into Brabant, and afterwards into France, where he was rejoined
by his wife.

Trial and suffering are the tests of married life. They bring out
the real character, and often tend to produce the closest union.
They may even be the spring of the purest happiness.
Uninterrupted joy, like uninterrupted success, is not good for
either man or woman. When Heine's wife died, he began to reflect
upon the loss he had sustained. They had both known poverty, and
struggled through it hand-in-hand; and it was his greatest sorrow
that she was taken from him at the moment when fortune was
beginning to smile upon him, but too late for her to share in his
prosperity. "Alas I" said he, "amongst my griefs must I reckon
even her love--the strongest, truest, that ever inspired the
heart of woman--which made me the happiest of mortals, and yet
was to me a fountain of a thousand distresses, inquietudes, and
cares? To entire cheerfulness, perhaps, she never attained; but
for what unspeakable sweetness, what exalted, enrapturing joys, is
not love indebted to sorrow! Amidst growing anxieties, with the
torture of anguish in my heart, I have been made, even by the loss
which caused me this anguish and these anxieties, inexpressibly
happy! When tears flowed over our cheeks, did not a nameless,
seldom-felt delight stream through my breast, oppressed equally
by joy and sorrow!"

There is a degree of sentiment in German love which seems strange
to English readers,--such as we find depicted in the lives of
Novalis, Jung Stilling, Fichte, Jean Paul, and others that might
be named. The German betrothal is a ceremony of almost equal
importance to the marriage itself; and in that state the
sentiments are allowed free play, whilst English lovers are
restrained, shy, and as if ashamed of their feelings. Take, for
instance, the case of Herder, whom his future wife first saw in
the pulpit. "I heard," she says, "the voice of an angel, and
soul's words such as I had never heard before. In the afternoon I
saw him, and stammered out my thanks to him; from this time forth
our souls were one." They were betrothed long before their means
would permit them to marry; but at length they were united. "We
were married," says Caroline, the wife, "by the rose-light of a
beautiful evening. We were one heart, one soul." Herder was
equally ecstatic in his language. "I have a wife," he wrote
to Jacobi, "that is the tree, the consolation, and the happiness
of my life. Even in flying transient thoughts (which often
surprise us), we are one!"

Take, again, the case of Fichte, in whose history his courtship
and marriage form a beautiful episode. He was a poor German
student, living with a family at Zurich in the capacity of tutor,
when he first made the acquaintance of Johanna Maria Hahn, a niece
of Klopstock. Her position in life was higher than that of
Fichte; nevertheless, she regarded him with sincere admiration.
When Fichte was about to leave Zurich, his troth plighted to her,
she, knowing him to be very poor, offered him a gift of money
before setting out. He was inexpressibly hurt by the offer, and,
at first, even doubted whether she could really love him; but, on
second thoughts, he wrote to her, expressing his deep thanks, but,
at the same time, the impossibility of his accepting such a gift
from her. He succeeded in reaching his destination, though
entirely destitute of means. After a long and hard struggle with
the world, extending over many years, Fichte was at length earning
money enough to enable him to marry. In one of his charming
letters to his betrothed he said:--"And so, dearest, I solemnly
devote myself to thee, and thank thee that thou hast thought me
not unworthy to be thy companion on the journey of life.... There
is no land of happiness here below--I know it now--but a land of
toil, where every joy but strengthens us for greater labour.
Hand-in-hand we shall traverse it, and encourage and strengthen
each other, until our spirits--oh, may it be together!--shall
rise to the eternal fountain of all peace."

The married life of Fichte was very happy. His wife proved a true
and highminded helpmate. During the War of Liberation she was
assiduous in her attention to the wounded in the hospitals, where
she caught a malignant fever, which nearly carried her off.
Fichte himself caught the same disease, and was for a time
completely prostrated; but he lived for a few more years and died
at the early age of fifty-two, consumed by his own fire.

What a contrast does the courtship and married life of the blunt
and practical William Cobbett present to the aesthetical and
sentimental love of these highly refined Germans! Not less
honest, not less true, but, as some would think, comparatively
coarse and vulgar. When he first set eyes upon the girl that was
afterwards to become his wife, she was only thirteen years old,
and he was twenty-one--a sergeant-major in a foot regiment
stationed at St. John's in New Brunswick. He was passing the
door of her father's house one day in winter, and saw the girl
out in the snow, scrubbing a washing-tub. He said at once to
himself, "That's the girl for me." He made her acquaintance,
and resolved that she should be his wife so soon as he could
get discharged from the army.

On the eve of the girl's return to Woolwich with her father, who
was a sergeant-major in the artillery, Cobbett sent her a hundred
and fifty guineas which he had saved, in order that she might be
able to live without hard work until his return to England. The
girl departed, taking with her the money; and five years later
Cobbett obtained his discharge. On reaching London, he made haste
to call upon the sergeant-major's daughter. "I found," he says,
"my little girl a servant-of-all-work (and hard work it was), at
five pounds a year, in the house of a Captain Brisac; and, without
hardly saying a word about the matter, she put into my hands the
whole of my hundred and fifty guineas, unbroken." Admiration of
her conduct was now added to love of her person, and Cobbett
shortly after married the girl, who proved an excellent wife. He
was, indeed, never tired of speaking her praises, and it was his
pride to attribute to her all the comfort and much of the success
of his after-life.

Though Cobbett was regarded by many in his lifetime as a coarse,
hard, practical man, full of prejudices, there was yet a strong
undercurrent of poetry in his nature; and, while he declaimed
against sentiment, there were few men more thoroughly imbued with
sentiment of the best kind. He had the tenderest regard for the
character of woman. He respected her purity and her virtue, and
in his 'Advice to Young Men,' he has painted the true womanly
woman--the helpful, cheerful, affectionate wife--with a
vividness and brightness, and, at the same time, a force of good
sense, that has never been surpassed by any English writer.
Cobbett was anything but refined, in the conventional sense of the
word; but he was pure, temperate, self-denying, industrious,
vigorous, and energetic, in an eminent degree. Many of his views
were, no doubt, wrong, but they were his own, for he insisted on
thinking for himself in everything. Though few men took a firmer
grasp of the real than he did, perhaps still fewer were more
swayed by the ideal. In word-pictures of his own emotions, he is
unsurpassed. Indeed, Cobbett might almost be regarded as one of
the greatest prose poets of English real life.

NOTES

(1) Mungo Park declared that he was more affected by this incident
than by any other that befel him in the course of his travels. As
he lay down to sleep on the mat spread for him on the floor of the
hut, his benefactress called to the female part of the family to
resume their task of spinning cotton, in which they continued
employed far into the night. "They lightened their labour with
songs," says the traveller, "one of which was composed extempore,
for I was myself the subject of it; it was sung by one of the
young women, the rest joining in a chorus. The air was sweet and
plaintive, and the words, literally translated, were these: 'The
winds roared, and the rains fell. The poor white man, faint and
weary, came and sat under our tree. He has no mother to bring him
milk, no wife to grind his corn.' Chorus--'Let us pity the white
man, no mother has he!' Trifling as this recital may appear, to a
person in my situation the circumstance was affecting in the
highest degree. I was so oppressed by such unexpected kindness,
that sleep fled before my eyes."

(2)'Transformation, or Monte Beni.'

(3) 'Portraits Contemporains,' iii. 519.

(4) Mr. Arthur Helps, in one of his Essays, has wisely said: "You
observe a man becoming day by day richer, or advancing in station,
or increasing in professional reputation, and you set him down as
a successful man in life. But if his home is an ill-regulated
one, where no links of affection extend throughout the family--
whose former domestics (and he has had more of them than he can
well remember) look back upon their sojourn with him as one
unblessed by kind words or deeds--I contend that that man has not
been successful. Whatever good fortune he may have in the world,
it is to be remembered that he has always left one important
fortress untaken behind him. That man's life does not surely read
well whose benevolence has found no central home. It may have
sent forth rays in various directions, but there should have been
a warm focus of love--that home-nest which is formed round a good
mans heart."--CLAIMS OF LABOUR.

(5) "The red heart sends all its instincts up to the white brain, to
be analysed, chilled, blanched, and so become pure reason--which
is just exactly what we do NOT want of women as women. The
current should run the other way. The nice, calm, cold thought,
which, in women, shapes itself so rapidly that they hardly know it
as thought, should always travel to the lips VIA the heart.
It does so in those women whom all love and admire....
The brain-women never interest us like the heart-women;
white roses please less than red."--THE PROFESSOR AT THE
BREAKFAST TABLE, by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

(6) 'The War and General Culture,' 1871.

(7) "Depend upon it, men set more value on the cultivated minds than
on the accomplishments of women, which they are rarely able to
appreciate. It is a common error, but it is an error, that
literature unfits women for the everyday business of life. It is
not so with men. You see those of the most cultivated minds
constantly devoting their time and attention to the most homely
objects. Literature gives women a real and proper weight in
society, but then they must use it with discretion."
--THE REV. SYDNEY SMITH.

(8) 'The Statesman,' pp. 73-75.

(9) Fuller, the Church historian, with his usual homely mother-wit,
speaking of the choice of a wife, said briefly, "Take the daughter
of a good mother."

(10) She was an Englishwoman--a Miss Motley. It maybe mentioned that
amongst other distinguished Frenchmen who have married English
wives, were Sismondi, Alfred de Vigny, and Lamartine.

(11) "Plus je roule dans ce monde, et plus je suis amene a penser
qu'il n'y a que le bonheur domestique qui signifie quelque chose."
--OEUVRES ET CORRESPONDENCE.

(12) De Tocqueville's 'Memoir and Remains,' vol. i. p. 408.

(13) De Tocqueville's 'Memoir and Remains,' vol. ii. p. 48.

(14) Colonel Hutchinson was an uncompromising republican, thoroughly
brave, highminded, and pious. At the Restoration, he was
discharged from Parliament, and from all offices of state for
ever. He retired to his estate at Owthorp, near Nottingham, but
was shortly after arrested and imprisoned in the Tower. From
thence he was removed to Sandown Castle, near Deal, where he lay
for eleven months, and died on September 11th, 1664. The wife
petitioned for leave to share his prison, but was refused. When
he felt himself dying, knowing the deep sorrow which his death
would occasion to his wife, he left this message, which was
conveyed to her: "Let her, as she is above other women, show
herself on this occasion a good Christian, and above the pitch of
ordinary women." Hence the wife's allusion to her husband's
"command" in the above passage.

(15) Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson to her children concerning their father:
'Memoirs of the Life of Col. Hutchinson' (Bohn's Ed.), pp. 29-30.

(16) On the Declaration of American Independence, the first John Adams,
afterwards President of the United States, bought a copy of the
'Life and Letters of Lady Russell,' and presented it to his wife,
"with an express intent and desire" (as stated by himself), "that
she should consider it a mirror in which to contemplate herself;
for, at that time, I thought it extremely probable, from the
daring and dangerous career I was determined to run, that she
would one day find herself in the situation of Lady Russell, her
husband without a head:" Speaking of his wife in connection with
the fact, Mr. Adams added: "Like Lady Russell, she never, by word
or look, discouraged me from running all hazards for the salvation
of my country's liberties. She was willing to share with me, and
that her children should share with us both, in all the dangerous
consequences we had to hazard."

(17) 'Memoirs of the Life of Sir Samuel Romily,' vol. i. p. 41.

(18) It is a singular circumstance that in the parish church of
St. Bride, Fleet Street, there is a tablet on the wall with an
inscription to the memory of Isaac Romilly, F.R.S., who died in
1759, of a broken heart, seven days after the decease of a
beloved wife--CHAMBERS' BOOK OF DAYS, vol. ii. p. 539.

(19) Mr. Frank Buckland says "During the long period that Dr.
Buckland was engaged in writing the book which I now have the
honour of editing, my mother sat up night after night, for weeks
and months consecutively, writing to my father's dictation; and
this often till the sun's rays, shining through the shutters at
early morn, warned the husband to cease from thinking, and the
wife to rest her weary hand. Not only with her pen did she
render material assistance, but her natural talent in the use
of her pencil enabled her to give accurate illustrations and
finished drawings, many of which are perpetuated in Dr. Buckland's
works. She was also particularly clever and neat in mending
broken fossils; and there are many specimens in the Oxford Museum,
now exhibiting their natural forms and beauty, which were restored
by her perseverance to shape from a mass of broken and almost
comminuted fragments."

(20) Veitch's 'Memoirs of Sir William Hamilton.'

(21) The following extract from Mr. Veitch's biography will give
one an idea of the extraordinary labours of Lady Hamilton, to
whose unfailing devotion to the service of her husband the world
of intellect has been so much indebted: "The number of pages
in her handwriting," says Mr. Veitch,--"filled with abstruse
metaphysical matter, original and quoted, bristling with
proportional and syllogistic formulae--that are still preserved,
is perfectly marvellous. Everything that was sent to the press,
and all the courses of lectures, were written by her, either to
dictation, or from a copy. This work she did in the truest spirit
of love and devotion. She had a power, moreover, of keeping her
husband up to what he had to do. She contended wisely against a
sort of energetic indolence which characterised him, and which,
while he was always labouring, made him apt to put aside the task
actually before him--sometimes diverted by subjects of inquiry
suggested in the course of study on the matter in hand, sometimes
discouraged by the difficulty of reducing to order the immense
mass of materials he had accumulated in connection with it. Then
her resolution and cheerful disposition sustained and refreshed
him, and never more so than when, during the last twelve years of
his life, his bodily strength was broken, and his spirit, though
languid, yet ceased not from mental toil. The truth is, that Sir
William's marriage, his comparatively limited circumstances, and
the character of his wife, supplied to a nature that would have
been contented to spend its mighty energies in work that brought
no reward but in the doing of it, and that might never have been
made publicly known or available, the practical force and impulse
which enabled him to accomplish what he actually did in literature
and philosophy. It was this influence, without doubt, which saved
him from utter absorption in his world of rare, noble, and
elevated, but ever-increasingly unattainable ideas. But for it,
the serene sea of abstract thought might have held him becalmed
for life; and in the absence of all utterance of definite
knowledge of his conclusions, the world might have been left to an
ignorant and mysterious wonder about the unprofitable scholar."

CHAPTER XII--THE DISCIPLINE OF EXPERIENCE.

"I would the great would grow like thee.
Who grewest not alone in power
And knowledge, but by year and hour
In reverence and in charity."--TENNYSON.

"Not to be unhappy is unhappynesse,
And misery not t'have known miserie;
For the best way unto discretion is
The way that leades us by adversitie;
And men are better shew'd what is amisse,
By th'expert finger of calamitie,
Than they can be with all that fortune brings,
Who never shewes them the true face of things."--DANIEL.

"A lump of wo affliction is,
Yet thence I borrow lumps of bliss;
Though few can see a blessing in't,
It is my furnace and my mint."
--ERSKINE'S GOSPEL SONNETS.

"Crosses grow anchors, bear as thou shouldst so
Thy cross, and that cross grows an anchor too."--DONNE.

"Be the day weary, or be the day long,
At length it ringeth to Evensong."--ANCIENT COUPLET.

Practical wisdom is only to be learnt in the school of experience.
Precepts and instructions are useful so far as they go, but,
without the discipline of real life, they remain of the nature of
theory only. The hard facts of existence have to be faced, to
give that touch of truth to character which can never be imparted
by reading or tuition, but only by contact with the broad
instincts of common men and women.

To be worth anything, character must be capable of standing firm
upon its feet in the world of daily work, temptation, and trial;
and able to bear the wear-and-tear of actual life. Cloistered
virtues do not count for much. The life that rejoices in solitude
may be only rejoicing in selfishness. Seclusion may indicate
contempt for others; though more usually it means indolence,
cowardice, or self-indulgence. To every human being belongs his
fair share of manful toil and human duty; and it cannot be shirked
without loss to the individual himself, as well as to the
community to which he belongs. It is only by mixing in the daily
life of the world, and taking part in its affairs, that practical
knowledge can be acquired, and wisdom learnt. It is there that we
find our chief sphere of duty, that we learn the discipline of
work, and that we educate ourselves in that patience, diligence,
and endurance which shape and consolidate the character. There we
encounter the difficulties, trials, and temptations which,
according as we deal with them, give a colour to our entire after-
life; and there, too, we become subject to the great discipline of
suffering, from which we learn far more than from the safe
seclusion of the study or the cloister.

Contact with others is also requisite to enable a man to know
himself. It is only by mixing freely in the world that one can
form a proper estimate of his own capacity. Without such
experience, one is apt to become conceited, puffed-up, and
arrogant; at all events, he will remain ignorant of himself,
though he may heretofore have enjoyed no other company.

Swift once said: "It is an uncontroverted truth, that no man ever
made an ill-figure who understood his own talents, nor a good one
who mistook them." Many persons, however, are readier to take
measure of the capacity of others than of themselves. "Bring him
to me," said a certain Dr. Tronchin, of Geneva, speaking of
Rousseau--"Bring him to me, that I may see whether he has got
anything in him!"--the probability being that Rousseau, who knew
himself better, was much more likely to take measure of Tronchin
than Tronchin was to take measure of him.

A due amount of self-knowledge is, therefore, necessary for those
who would BE anything or DO anything in the world. It is also one
of the first essentials to the formation of distinct personal
convictions. Frederic Perthes once said to a young friend: "You
know only too well what you CAN do; but till you have learned what
you CANNOT do, you will neither accomplish anything of moment, nor
know inward peace."

Any one who would profit by experience will never be above asking
for help. He who thinks himself already too wise to learn of
others, will never succeed in doing anything either good or great.
We have to keep our minds and hearts open, and never be ashamed to
learn, with the assistance of those who are wiser and more
experienced than ourselves.

The man made wise by experience endeavours to judge correctly of
the thugs which come under his observation, and form the subject
of his daily life. What we call common sense is, for the most
part, but the result of common experience wisely improved. Nor is
great ability necessary to acquire it, so much as patience,
accuracy, and watchfulness. Hazlitt thought the most sensible
people to be met with are intelligent men of business and of the
world, who argue from what they see and know, instead of spinning
cobweb distinctions of what things ought to be.

For the same reason, women often display more good sense than men,
having fewer pretensions, and judging of things naturally, by the
involuntary impression they make on the mind. Their intuitive
powers are quicker, their perceptions more acute, their sympathies
more lively, and their manners more adaptive to particular ends.
Hence their greater tact as displayed in the management of others,
women of apparently slender intellectual powers often contriving
to control and regulate the conduct of men of even the most
impracticable nature. Pope paid a high compliment to the
tact and good sense of Mary, Queen of William III., when
he described her as possessing, not a science, but (what was
worth all else) prudence.

The whole of life may be regarded as a great school of experience,
in which men and women are the pupils. As in a school, many of
the lessons learnt there must needs be taken on trust. We may not
understand them, and may possibly think it hard that we have to
learn them, especially where the teachers are trials, sorrows,
temptations, and difficulties; and yet we must not only accept
their lessons, but recognise them as being divinely appointed.

To what extent have the pupils profited by their experience in the
school of life? What advantage have they taken of their
opportunities for learning? What have they gained in discipline
of heart and mind?--how much in growth of wisdom, courage, self-
control? Have they preserved their integrity amidst prosperity,
and enjoyed life in temperance and moderation? Or, has life been
with them a mere feast of selfishness, without care or thought for
others? What have they learnt from trial and adversity? Have
they learnt patience, submission, and trust in God?--or have they
learnt nothing but impatience, querulousness, and discontent?

The results of experience are, of course, only to be achieved by
living; and living is a question of time. The man of experience
learns to rely upon Time as his helper. "Time and I against any
two," was a maxim of Cardinal Mazarin. Time has been described as
a beautifier and as a consoler; but it is also a teacher. It is
the food of experience, the soil of wisdom. It may be the friend
or the enemy of youth; and Time will sit beside the old as a
consoler or as a tormentor, according as it has been used or
misused, and the past life has been well or ill spent.

Time," says George Herbert, "is the rider that breaks youth." To
the young, how bright the new world looks!--how full of novelty,
of enjoyment, of pleasure! But as years pass, we find the world
to be a place of sorrow as well as of joy. As we proceed through
life, many dark vistas open upon us--of toil, suffering,
difficulty, perhaps misfortune and failure. Happy they who can
pass through and amidst such trials with a firm mind and pure
heart, encountering trials with cheerfulness, and standing erect
beneath even the heaviest burden!

A little youthful ardour is a great help in life, and is useful as
an energetic motive power. It is gradually cooled down by Time,
no matter how glowing it has been, while it is trained and subdued
by experience. But it is a healthy and hopeful indication of
character,--to be encouraged in a right direction, and not to be
sneered down and repressed. It is a sign of a vigorous unselfish
nature, as egotism is of a narrow and selfish one; and to begin
life with egotism and self-sufficiency is fatal to all breadth and
vigour of character. Life, in such a case, would be like a year
in which there was no spring. Without a generous seedtime, there
will be an unflowering summer and an unproductive harvest. And
youth is the springtime of life, in which, if there be not a fair
share of enthusiasm, little will be attempted, and still less
done. It also considerably helps the working quality, inspiring
confidence and hope, and carrying one through the dry details of
business and duty with cheerfulness and joy.

"It is the due admixture of romance and reality," said Sir Henry
Lawrence, "that best carries a man through life... The quality of
romance or enthusiasm is to be valued as an energy imparted to the
human mind to prompt and sustain its noblest efforts." Sir Henry
always urged upon young men, not that they should repress
enthusiasm, but sedulously cultivate and direct the feeling, as
one implanted for wise and noble purposes. "When the two
faculties of romance and reality," he said, "are duly blended,
reality pursues a straight rough path to a desirable and
practicable result; while romance beguiles the road by pointing
out its beauties--by bestowing a deep and practical conviction
that, even in this dark and material existence, there may be found
a joy with which a stranger intermeddleth not--a light that
shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (1)

It was characteristic of Joseph Lancaster, when a boy of only
fourteen years of age, after reading 'Clarkson on the Slave
Trade,' to form the resolution of leaving his home and going out
to the West Indies to teach the poor blacks to read the Bible.
And he actually set out with a Bible and 'Pilgrim's Progress' in
his bundle, and only a few shillings in his purse. He even
succeeded in reaching the West Indies, doubtless very much at a
loss how to set about his proposed work; but in the meantime his
distressed parents, having discovered whither he had gone, had him
speedily brought back, yet with his enthusiasm unabated; and from
that time forward he unceasingly devoted himself to the truly
philanthropic work of educating the destitute poor. (2)

There needs all the force that enthusiasm can give to enable a man
to succeed in any great enterprise of life. Without it, the
obstruction and difficulty he has to encounter on every side might
compel him to succumb; but with courage and perseverance, inspired
by enthusiasm, a man feels strong enough to face any danger, to
grapple with any difficulty. What an enthusiasm was that of
Columbus, who, believing in the existence of a new world, braved
the dangers of unknown seas; and when those about him despaired
and rose up against him, threatening to cast him into the sea,
still stood firm upon his hope and courage until the great new
world at length rose upon the horizon!

The brave man will not be baffled, but tries and tries again until
he succeeds. The tree does not fall at the first stroke, but only
by repeated strokes and after great labour. We may see the
visible success at which a man has arrived, but forget the toil
and suffering and peril through which it has been achieved. When
a friend of Marshal Lefevre was complimenting him on his
possessions and good fortune, the Marshal said: "You envy me, do
you? Well, you shall have these things at a better bargain than I
had. Come into the court: I'll fire at you with a gun twenty
times at thirty paces, and if I don't kill you, all shall be your
own. What! you won't! Very well; recollect, then, that I have
been shot at more than a thousand times, and much nearer, before I
arrived at the state in which you now find me!"

The apprenticeship of difficulty is one which the greatest of men
have had to serve. It is usually the best stimulus and discipline
of character. It often evokes powers of action that, but for it,
would have remained dormant. As comets are sometimes revealed by
eclipses, so heroes are brought to light by sudden calamity. It
seems as if, in certain cases, genius, like iron struck by the
flint, needed the sharp and sudden blow of adversity to bring out
the divine spark. There are natures which blossom and ripen
amidst trials, which would only wither and decay in an atmosphere
of ease and comfort.

Thus it is good for men to be roused into action and stiffened
into self-reliance by difficulty, rather than to slumber away
their lives in useless apathy and indolence. (3) It is the
struggle that is the condition of victory. If there were no
difficulties, there would be no need of efforts; if there were no
temptations, there would be no training in self-control, and but
little merit in virtue; if there were no trial and suffering,
there would be no education in patience and resignation. Thus
difficulty, adversity, and suffering are not all evil, but often
the best source of strength, discipline, and virtue.

For the same reason, it is often of advantage for a man to be
under the necessity of having to struggle with poverty and conquer
it. "He who has battled," says Carlyle, "were it only with
poverty and hard toil, will be found stronger and more expert than
he who could stay at home from the battle, concealed among the
provision waggons, or even rest unwatchfully 'abiding by the
stuff.'"

Scholars have found poverty tolerable compared with the privation
of intellectual food. Riches weigh much more heavily upon the
mind. "I cannot but choose say to Poverty," said Richter, "Be
welcome! so that thou come not too late in life." Poverty, Horace
tells us, drove him to poetry, and poetry introduced him to Varus
and Virgil and Maecenas. "Obstacles," says Michelet, "are great
incentives. I lived for whole years upon a Virgil, and found
myself well off. An odd volume of Racine, purchased by chance at
a stall on the quay, created the poet of Toulon."

The Spaniards are even said to have meanly rejoiced the poverty of
Cervantes, but for which they supposed the production of his great
works might have been prevented. When the Archbishop of Toledo
visited the French ambassador at Madrid, the gentlemen in the
suite of the latter expressed their high admiration of the
writings of the author of 'Don Quixote,' and intimated their
desire of becoming acquainted with one who had given them so much
pleasure. The answer they received was, that Cervantes had borne
arms in the service of his country, and was now old and poor.
'What!" exclaimed one of the Frenchmen, "is not Senor Cervantes in
good circumstances? Why is he not maintained, then, out of the
public treasury?" "Heaven forbid!" was the reply, "that his
necessities should be ever relieved, if it is those which make him
write; since it is his poverty that makes the world rich!" (4)

It is not prosperity so much as adversity, not wealth so much as
poverty, that stimulates the perseverance of strong and healthy
natures, rouses their energy and developes their character. Burke
said of himself: "I was not rocked, and swaddled, and dandled into
a legislator. 'NITOR IN ADVERSUM' is the motto for a man like
you." Some men only require a great difficulty set in their way
to exhibit the force of their character and genius; and that
difficulty once conquered becomes one of the greatest incentives
to their further progress.

It is a mistake to suppose that men succeed through success; they
much oftener succeed through failure. By far the best experience
of men is made up of their remembered failures in dealing with
others in the affairs of life. Such failures, in sensible men,
incite to better self-management, and greater tact and self-
control, as a means of avoiding them in the future. Ask the
diplomatist, and he will tell you that he has learned his art
through being baffled, defeated, thwarted, and circumvented,
far more than from having succeeded. Precept, study, advice,
and example could never have taught them so well as failure
has done. It has disciplined them experimentally, and taught
them what to do as well as what NOT to do--which is often
still more important in diplomacy.

Many have to make up their minds to encounter failure again and
again before they succeed; but if they have pluck, the failure
will only serve to rouse their courage, and stimulate them to
renewed efforts. Talma, the greatest of actors, was hissed off
the stage when he first appeared on it. Lacordaire, one of the
greatest preachers of modern times, only acquired celebrity after
repeated failures. Montalembert said of his first public
appearance in the Church of St. Roch: "He failed completely, and
on coming out every one said, 'Though he may be a man of talent,
he will never be a preacher.'" Again and again he tried until he
succeeded; and only two years after his DEBUT, Lacordaire was
preaching in Notre Dame to audiences such as few French orators
have addressed since the time of Bossuet and Massillon.

When Mr. Cobden first appeared as a speaker, at a public meeting
in Manchester, he completely broke down, and the chairman
apologized for his failure. Sir James Graham and Mr. Disraeli
failed and were derided at first, and only succeeded by dint of
great labour and application. At one time Sir James Graham had
almost given up public speaking in despair. He said to his friend
Sir Francis Baring: "I have tried it every way--extempore, from
notes, and committing all to memory--and I can't do it. I don't
know why it is, but I am afraid I shall never succeed." Yet, by
dint of perseverance, Graham, like Disraeli, lived to become one
of the most effective and impressive of parliamentary speakers.

Failures in one direction have sometimes had the effect of forcing
the farseeing student to apply himself in another. Thus
Prideaux's failure as a candidate for the post of parish-clerk of
Ugboro, in Devon, led to his applying himself to learning, and to
his eventual elevation to the bishopric of Worcester. When
Boileau, educated for the bar, pleaded his first cause, he broke
down amidst shouts of laughter. He next tried the pulpit, and
failed there too. And then he tried poetry, and succeeded.
Fontenelle and Voltaire both failed at the bar. So Cowper,
through his diffidence and shyness, broke down when pleading his
first cause, though he lived to revive the poetic art in England.
Montesquieu and Bentham both failed as lawyers, and forsook the
bar for more congenial pursuits--the latter leaving behind him a

Book of the day: