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action, not absolutely criminal, may be taken, as Bishop Hall says, "with two hands, the right hand of charitable construction, or the sinister interpretation of injustice and suspicion. To construe an evil action well is but a pleasing and profitable deceit to myself; but to misconstrue a good one is a treble wrong—to myself, the action, and the author." The rough and the smooth are inseparable. We can at all events be thankful for the latter.
Abreast of women's heroism is connection with military matters in the bygones, how many beautiful anecdotes we find in history of the care taken by them of their husbands' warlike reputation! The effect of this upon the popular sense and idea of honour, and its civilizing result, when there was so little besides to awaken and foster high principle, it is now scarcely possible to measure, but it certainly was profound. The courtesy with which women are treated in our own era originated in the noble sentiments and gallant usages which so adorned the days of chivalry and the tournaments; and these sentiments were kept alive not more by the minstrels and the troubadours than by the patrician women of the time, who may justly be said to have presided over the whole. A knight could not more deeply disgrace himself than by misbehaviour in regard to woman; and she, in turn, was never slow to animate him when true and to rebuke him if negligent or false. The uprise of the spirit in question is found, let,us not forget, in the nations called "Northern," being geographically so with regard to the ancient Greeks and Romans. In the history of the latter there is nothing at all to compare with it, and in some respects it is superior to anything which their history furnishes. Cæsar and Tacitus alike testify to the tender reverence felt for women by the northern "barbarians "- -the "barbarian" being originally nothing more than an "outsider," a sayer of bar bar, or speaker of an unintelligible language. The very special admiration of these barbarians, they tell us, was given to spotlessness of feminine honour. Tacitus particularly mentions as patterns of chastity two virgins, fairest of the fair, named Veleda and Ganna; and doubtless it was owing in the first instance to the character and influence of the women this couple represented, chastity of soul being the fountain of all other virtues, that the spirit of the men became what to-day we call chivalrous, or after fulfilment of duty to God, disposition to be kind and considerate and faithful to women, and to be her defender in life and death. No prouder name occurs in the glorious old list than that of Adela, youngest daughter of William of Normandy, and last survivor
of his family. Her husband, Stephen, Earl of Blois, went as a crusader to Palestine. Women of bold spirit often accompanied their consorts in the wild though magnanimous expeditions made to the Holy Land on behalf of the cross-the only aggressive wars ever undertaken with an unselfish purpose-but Adela remained at home. Before long, to her dismay, Stephen returned, for though no coward he wanted fortitude to endure privations. So indignant was the Countess that she compelled him to go back at once to redeem his knightly repute, which he did, though at the cost of his life. The moral effect was immense. Men saw that while there were women to watch them no one could dare to be even a truant; it is through Adela, primarily, that many a man to-day-so enduring through generations is the vitality of a great lesson-finds himself unable, however strongly he may be inclined, to act shamefully when a woman is looking on. Stephen's heir being a minor, Adela upon his death became regent of the province; and in all France, Benoit tells us, there was "no lady more beautiful, nor of greater valour, nor who more loved our Lord.” She seems to have closely resembled, in many particulars, the renowned Saxon queen, Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred, distinguished, like herself, for every feminine virtue, and who, as "The Lady of the Mercians"charming title-ruled, every man consenting, for eight years after the death of Ældred. It was Ethelfleda who built the celebrated "city of Eddisbury" in Delamere Forest, Cheshire, and who in the same year, 914, founded Warwick Castle. In each case we have a striking example of one of the best peculiarities of a good woman-the clear perception of propriety. This it is which qualifies her so especially to keep things of all kinds, when she has control over them, in their right places, and more especially still to keep people in their right places. The latter is one of the best parts of "woman's mission," wherefore nature has bestowed on her the admirable faculty of accomplishing her purpose by means of the briefest of impromptu sentences: -“Did you mark how she took out all his conceit at a stroke by calling him 'child'?"
Courageous deeds of faithful wives on behalf of their husbands are illustrated quite as remarkably in the historians' narratives of successful efforts to rescue from prison or to save from punishment. To find examples of these there is no need to ask of ballad and legend, any more than for pictures of women's heroism in war. They form part of the plain staple of history, and touch one the more deeply perhaps because indebted in no degree to the poet, who though he fascinates
we sometimes listen to distrustfully. The well-known story of the carrying of Grotius out of the fortress of Louvenstein in 1621 by soldiers of the garrison, who thought they were charged with the safety of a box of valuable books, has, for all its best part, the ingenuity and address of his wife. In our own country we have the story of Winifred Herbert, Countess of Nithsdale; in Scotland the almost incredible tale of Grizell or Griselda Cochrane, told by Lockhart; and in France, within the memory of people still living, the rescue of Lavalette. Winifred Herbert's husband, being a participator in the Jacobite rising of 1715, was seized, imprisoned in the Tower, and sentenced to the scaffold. Winifred rode on horseback all the way from York to London, alone, and through deep snow, and gaining admission, contrived, by changing clothes, to extricate him on the very eve of execution. In those days such a journey was no trifle even for a stalwart man, to say nothing of the wintry asperities taken no account of by that faithful woman, who, it is pleasant to reflect, had her conjugal affection rewarded for a period of twenty-eight years longer. The Countess herself survived till 1744. She was a rare example of the constant and disinterested feminine love which misfortune cannot affect or time diminish, and which, maturing into friendship, truly constitutes woman's conjugal affection. The criterion of a true marriage is that the sweetheart of one's youth becomes in old age the kindest and most watchful of friends. Wedlock simply gives the opportunity for conjugal union, not the union itself, which, like summer after May-day, comes of progress and expansion. Love begun is not love completed. Blossoms are not apples, though the young lover thinks they are. No man can love with all his faculties at first, nor can any woman, for they mature only by degrees. Attachments like Winifred Herbert's belong to the realm of the fine arts. Every touch is complete in itself, and the earlier work is never undone, but to understand we must wait for the completion.
Louise Emilie, wife of Lavalette, saved her husband in 1816 from the guillotine by a precisely similar contrivance, getting him out of prison through disguise in female apparel. She, poor thing, may be Isaid to have died to save. The strain upon a constitution naturally delicate, and upon a mind easily excited by joy or sorrow, induced by the anxiety, danger, and fatigue of her undertaking, to which was added the grief of ineffectual efforts to obtain pardon for her husband from the king, was beyond her bearing. She survived for forty years, but her intellect wasted away. When the news of the escape was
brought to the king, with excuses and self-exculpations, "I cannot see," replied his majesty, "that any one has acted properly in the matter except Madame Lavalette herself."
These stories, always beautiful, though in some cases so fraught with after-sadness to the unfortunate woman who plays the principal part in them, lead the way to a thousand others where the pleading has been successful. Among them there is not one of warmer interest than when, in 1556, Lady Braye begged her husband's life of Queen Mary, and this when her spouse would seem to have been by no means deserving of such devotion, for, said the queen, when the weeping petitioner had left her presence (perhaps with a passing thought of her own trials), "God sent oftentimes to good women evil husbands." They prove, one with another, that difficulties which to a man seem insuperable (peculiarly so in the case of Lavalette) serve only, with a woman who is resolved, to quicken her ingenuity and to incite her to new diligence. She does not always succeed. When, like the unhappy Lady Russell, she fails, the failure comes most usually, not of physical hindrances, but of the obduracy of some human heart. How rarely, in any concern of life, is a woman disappointed in accomplishing what she has once made up her mind to! By reason of this tenacity of purpose, not only have we anecdotes such as those above cited. In undertaking any arduous and perplexing enterprise, it is plain that a man has no auxiliary equal to a woman's devotedness. It was the unflinching encouragement and protection given to Columbus by the admirable Isabella of Castile which sustained him during his toilsome efforts to obtain the outfit for his first voyage, and which preserved him to the last. "Her constancy," says Lamartine, never wavered before the indifference of her court, before his enemies, or his reverses. She believed in him from the first; she was his proselyte on the throne, and his friend even to the grave." What a charming picture to keep before the mind when meditating on what came of that wonderful first voyage! How many a Columbus in private life has had reason as good to thank some loving woman for her support when every one else looked a different way—no stipulating, either, for what she so seldom gets— her share of proper gratitude.
(To be continued.)
BY THE REV. T. L. MARSDEN.
"And He cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him. And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that He put His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And He sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town."-MARK viii. 22-26.
As one of the objects of the Lord's Incarnation was to restore that which He took not away (Ps. lxix. 4), and to recover again what had been perverted, and as we also regard the loss of sight in the above instance as corresponding to the obliteration by sin of man's internal rational faculty of discerning celestial and Divine things, so we will remind you that the successive stages of opening the eyes of this blind man may be looked upon most profitably in their moral application to every individual member of the Church.
Our subject, then, is the restoration and development of the interior rational degree of the human mind and its dedication to the Lord, whose Omnipotent Hands effected it.
He not only healed the eyes of his body, setting in order their various chambers, lenses, and powers of reflecting light resulting from their harmonious operation, but the eyes of his spirit also, and has given the history of the cure so marvellously arranged as, in its internal sense, communicates to this Church the Divine method by which He restores the interior rational faculty, and without which he could not receive faith as a gift. If faith is a term not found in the Hebrew books of the Word, it is because the Lord, as the Object of faith, had not in the times they were written assumed His Divine-natural, but only a celestial and spiritual, Humanity when needed. By the internal rational faculty receiving Divine truth, mankind can now distinguish between the things that are from the Lord and the things that are of men. In the perverted dispensation of Judaism this faculty had been utterly destroyed, as the case of the man born blind proves (John ix.). It is worthy of notice that the Lord and His disciples were moving onward towards Cæsarea Philippi when the case of this man of Bethesda arrested His progress, and their advancement in knowledge after this follows Peter's glorious confession of faith in the Divinity of the Redeemer's Humanity (Matt. xvi. 18), which is a saving faith