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D. SOFA That hanhen they partie
who loudly threaten, fiercely abuse, or even, if boys, violently engage in combat, the whole house is full of noises, of menaces, and of the most wretched misery. It is a school of murder, for 'be that hateth his brother is a murderer.' Each one is filled with an irritability which a touch exacerbates into fury. The faintest collision brings forth sparks of the electric fire within. Grudges accumulate into fixed enmities. Free speech degenerates into a habit of hardness. The sister ingeniously torments, the brother rudely worries and assails. The balm of sympathy is a blessing never known, either in sorrow or in active pursuit. They 'grow together until the harvest,' and that harvest is a maturity of cankered hearts and irritable tempers. When they part by marriage or by occupation, to found other angry families, the father's house is never more a centre of reunion ; but each goes forth to his journey in life, glad to forget a home without grace or gentleness, and a hearth whose sacred fires were extinguished by the continual droppings' of a storm.
These, it will be said, are extreme cases. They are, indeed, examples of extreme misery, but they are not altogether so rare as is imagined. There is a far larger number of thoroughly wretched bouseholds than is supposed by those who have few opportunities for inquiry into the measures of domestic happiness. It is not, however, pretended that the preceding dark pictures are descriptions of the generality of homes. The majority of families are neither very happy nor exceedingly miserable. They are characterized by a dull average tone of feeling, in which there is mingled enough affection to prevent the total destruction of peace, yet enough of disturbance to break up the evenness of repose. The moral condition of the persons in a house has far more to do with their happiness than the condition of the furniture ; yet how many are elaborately careful of the one, and neglectful of the other. Every speck of dust will be removed from a table or a mirror; the utinost attention will be given to guarding against injury the carved leg of a piano, or the floral moulding of a picture-frame ; the most extreme solicitude will be devoted to the cleanness of the lamps, the whiteness of the linen, or the polish of the silver ; but a very slight consideration of those arts of peace which preserve the freshness and beauty of friendship between kindred. At least as much care is worthy to be expended to avoid injuring the feelings of familiar friends, as to avoid injuring the moveables. It is quite possible to form a habit of thought before speaking and action, so as to avoid needless friction in daily life. It is a great evil under the sun when all the politeness and consideration is devoted to people out of doors, when all the delicate reserve in language, the disposition to favourable construction, the friendly interpretation of motive, is assigned to total strangers. It is melancholy when the
TOL. III,— NEW SERIES.
nearness of fireside relationship is used only as an advantage for striking harder blows, for inflicting deeper wounds, for holding up to closer view acknowledged infirmities. Home life requires in nearly all infinitely more self-restraint and compassionate affection than life in the market-place. To every one there is an evil day, when the health of the body disposes to keener impressions of mental pain, when the trial of spirits by labour, by sickness, or by disappointment, leaves the heart peculiarly sensitive, and thirsty for the refreshment of sympathy. And if, on such occasions, the balm is withheld, or exchanged for rough reprehension or sullen frigidity, the result is not such as to invite description.
No closeness of relationship can dispense with the ordinary demands of friendship. Unless the love of husband and wife, of brother and sister, be supported by friendship, the natural affection will prove unequal to the rubs and ills of life. And do friendship is worthy of the name which is not based upon principles essentially Christian. Of these the first is a resolute forgiveness of imperfections, and the second a habit of unteigned sympathy. It is in the spirit of these two principles that God acts in His love towards us all. It is on these deep foundations that the 'thorough affection of Christ for His church reposes. Our saving relations with God commence in every case, not in complacency, but in forgiveness. There is a 'world of iniquity' to be pardoned. And with God there is no such thing as a half reconciliation. When He forgives, He forgives with all His heart and with all His mind.' There is no cloud or frown left upon His face when the words of pardon have passed His lips. There are no secret reserves of anger concealed beneath the appearances of union. He welcomes thoroughly to His heart and to His heaven those to whom He
shows mercy' at all. And the forgiveness of the old sins' is followed by as hearty a daily forgiveness. He who has once washed the head and the hands,' readily washes 'the feet ’at every stage of the journey to his rest. The ardour of the Godhead is thrown into His friendships with the redeemed. The Father gives "all things' willingly to His returned prodigal. The best robe, the ring, the fatted calf. He who has given Himself knows no stint in His after benefactions. Now this is the rule of friendship for us, and for friendship in all relationships. It is not in the character of angels that we can dwell together in unity on earth; it is as sinners, still retaining many traces of imperfection, and requiring daily from God and from each other the exercise of mercy. And where this mercy is not shown, the accumulation of petty offences will soon mount up into causes of serious separation. The pricking of many pins will prove equal to the single stroke of any dagger. We must learn, therefore, to love even the most beloved, in Christ, to see His robe of spotless righteousness covering the tatters of human infirmity, and then we shall be able to maintain an affection which will endure the strain of the world's vanity and vexation of spirit.
Thoroughness of affection is not easily provoked. A sinful spirit is covered on the surface with 'sores,' and these are too tender to bear any touch. There is nothing which requires more watchfulness than not to give offence, and not easily to take it in the intercourse of families. As health preserves a whole skin capable of bearing friction without pain, so does health of mind preserve us from a diseased irritability. There are some persons who always seem as if they had been covered from head to foot with a blister of Spanish flies. There is no limit to their sensitiveness. They present to their associates a surface of nerves unprotected by skin or tissue. A word enters into them, and poisons their blood be forethe utterer shall have even divined their injury. With such characters life can be at best but a series of petty quarrels and reconciliations-one long November of foggy sunbeams and gloomy showers. For such nothing is more desirable than a discipline which will harden them. Greater friction in life would soon remedy the evil, for there is nothing that cures over. sensitiveness like disregarding it. He who would enjoy life must consider the enjoyments of others, and certainly nothing is more destructive of social happiness than a rheumatic temper, in which every touch inflicts torment, and every movement is accompanied with an ontcry of pain.
In family differences, whether of the minor or the major class, there is invaluable truth in the old adage, The least said, the soonest mended. Full and complete explanations and defences are very apt to irritate the original wounds, and to inflict fresh ones. The defence is always worse than the offence. The best friends are bad reasoners when the heart disturbs the balance of the head. Those who are so bent on identity of view in every case that they must ‘have it out,' and dispute till they agree, are very likely to spend their whole lifetime in campaigning from their desperate love of unity. To damn up the first outbreak of waters is the grand tactique of domestic strategy. He who is master of himself at the beginning of a quarrel, need seldom fear the end
-for the end will not be far off, and the one who can bear a thoughtless unkind word without recrimination, exercises greater qualities than he that 'taketh a city. He who can thus vanquish his own self-love is a conqueror indeed. God will encircle his kingly brow with amaranthine laurels, and stamp his effigy upon the golden currency of heaven.
For the rest, it is well worth our labour to study the arts of healing in domestic life. Wrath, clamour, perverse disputings, banish God's spirit, and depress our own. When the heart is
In family aluable truthand complete “explana
angry, nothing external gives pleasure. Sunlight is darkness to a bloodshot eye. But love is itself happiness, and it will be the happiness of heaven. God would be weary of His necessary endless being if His nature were not love. It is this alone which renders tolerable the prospect of immortality. All things else would grow wearisome. In much wisdom would be much grief, and the spectacle of even heaven's glory would pall on the sated eye. The weight of ages would bow down the head, and make men shudder at the vision of an endless life, if revolving cycles brought only the experience of evil in a creation where love was to be unknown.
And this fervent love, which is the solace of immortals, is the only balm of life on earth. There is an age-how rapidly we reach it !—when the eye begins to grow dim, and the natural force begins visibly to abate. The mantling flush of youthful blood has passed away, and the thrill of early enthusiasm has been exchanged for a sobriety which speaks of declining vigour quite as much as of advancing wisdom. Neither company, nor study, nor books, nor exercise, nor change of scene, afford quite the old delight. The stiffening limbs prophecy of a more unconquerable chill, and the failing spirits indicate the approach of an hour when the busy heart will beat no more. But
Love is indestructable,
Death may be welcomed to release from wedlock uncongenial spirits, who rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when from the bonds of a hated marriage, they can find a refuge in the grave. But thrice happy they for whom the morning light of youthful affection has subsided into a golden afternoon of tenderness and hope-into a sunset of sacred and ennobling sympathies, whose amber and purple gleams foretell a bright rising again,' and soften the darkness of the shades into the grand twilight of eternity! Yes, thrice happy, happy they who, when life's day is ended, can join hands on earth, while they 'gaze up stedfastly towards heaven,' saying, ' AND SO SHALL WE BE EVER WITH THE LORD.'
THE POETRY OF TENNYSON.
FIRST PAPER. THERE is, perhaps, no literary question of our day so absolutely settled as the supremacy of Mr. Tennyson among living English poets. His true place among the minstrels of all ages is for another generation to decide, when his name and fame alone survive, and the calmness of criticism is no longer warped by the proud reflection that we have him with us still. Among his contemporaries there have been those whom some still reckon greater than be; but the last possible rival has now passed away, and this modern King Alfred reigns alone. Nor is it cold homage that he wins from this generation. Never was loyalty more loving ; never did a poet's influence more deeply affect the moral and spiritual life. A race of high-souled, deeply-thinking young men, all but idolize Tennyson. Oxford, with all the hero-worship of its Commemoration days, never heard louder or more heartfelt acclamations than when he was presented to the gathered youth of its University. In the concluding paper of this brief series, I hope to shew that no writer, with the exception, perhaps, of Mr. Carlyle, has so largely modified the deepest religious thinking of our age. But be this as it may, his unequalled influence is a fact. He has already attained, not popularity, but fame.
It seems, therefore, worth while to ask with more than common interest, how this pre-eminence has been reached. Have we here a comet wbich has swept into the literary heavens, we cannot tell how, and which is pursuing a path that we cannot follow? or are there, even in this bright particular star, any elements for calculating the orbit, and for deducing principles that may be of good service to all young literary aspirants in their own humbler path?
The present paper will be chiefly devoted to an attempt to answer this question. Next month, by grace of the Editor, I will try and give some general estimate of Mr. Tennyson's writings; and, 'thirdly and lastly,' if my readers will bear with me so long, I will endeavour to discuss the religious teaching and influence of the great poet.
Among the reminiscences of my school-boy days, one of the most vivid is my introduction to the field of modern criticism, by meeting, for the first time, with five or six then recent volumes of the Quarterly Review. One of these contained a paper on Mr. Tennyson's earlier poems;* and like hundreds of other people, old
frants in their efly devoted to Editor, I
* • Quarterly Review,' Vol. XLIX., April, 1833.