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If wisdom is our lesson, (and what else Ennobles man, what else have angels learn'd?) Grief! more proficients in thy school are made Than genius or proud learning ere could boast.


Much has been said upon the subject of grief, but how little to the purpose! It cannot be described by those who have not felt it deeply ; and those who have, are too much agitated at the time of its extreme violence to define its fearful influence : and when in a degree freed from the intensity of the agony, find the retrospection too painful to admit of analization. The descriptions that


we have of grief are therefore more poetical and fancied than natural. It is represented as exhausting itself in complaint; but real grief silently endures, until its dreadful energy is abated. Silence is the natural expression of that awful and overwhelming sensation which presses on the soul in the moment of bereavement.

Every description in the volume of Inspiration is true to nature: thus Job sat still seven days and seven nights ere he bewailed his afflictions; and the only kindness he seems to have received from his friends was their permitting him to remain undisturbed. they sat with him seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him, for they saw that his grief was very great.” (Job, ii. 13.) In fact, there is no feeling of our nature more reserved than grief, if deeply felt, or one which more sedulously seeks to hide itself when in society, although it is continually betrayed by the rising sigh and changing countenance. It shrinks as it were from premature consolation, feeling that it is but the remembrancer of the blow which has

66 So

touched the nerve


agony is born,” and regarding it as a violation of the sacredness of sorrow. How often does the bereaved sufferer prove the justness of those beautiful lines of the gifted bard :

There is a mystery in parting words,
A spell which sweeps affection's deepest chords,
And oft when least expected makes us start
At that Æolian music of the heart.


Grief is also described as delighting itself in solitude. It will seek solitude, of course, to indulge without restraint its melancholy meditations ; but to the mind dreadfully burdened solitude will become insupportable, unless cheered by religious principle; and would, if continued, inevitably be followed by death, natural or self-sought; because the genial fires glowing in the bosom of the individual, which hitherto cherished the endeared and lamented objects of his love, now consume his own vitality, and he sinks under the power of those harassing suggestions which have a tendency to render him dissatisfied with the appointments of his Creator; while the abandonment of the mind to any one particular object by which an intense and prolonged feeling of uneasiness is awakened, has equally a tendency to enfeeble its powers and to destroy ultimately the very capacity of sober thought and useful action. Grief is also interpreted by the countenance and demeanour, but these are not always just criteria. The man who forces himself to be cheerful when in society, may appear to an ill-judging world deficient even in feeling ; yet, perhaps the moment after he has quitted the company who have passed this judgment, he

may relapse into bitter sorrow and dreadful

mental agony.

It is freely admitted that real cheerfulness may not unfrequently flash over the mind oppressed and darkened by the clouds of sorrow, for the human soul has a tendency to rise above the weight which depresses it. Strange tho' it seem, yet with extremest grief Is linked a mirth. It doth not bring relief : That playfulness of sorrow ne'er beguiles.


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