Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

This seemed to have been Shimei's hopes; but excess of malice makes men too quick-sighted even for their own purpose. Could Shimei possibly have waited for the ebb of David's passions, and till the first great conflict within him had been over,—then the reproach of being guilty of Saul's blood must have hurt him :-his heart was possessed with other feelings,-it bled for the deadly sting which Absa. lom had given him ;-he felt not the indignity of a stranger :- Behold, my son Absalom, who came " out of my bowels, seeketh my life !-how much more may

Shimei do it !-let him alone ; it may « be the Lord may look upon my affliction, and re« quite me good for this evil.”

An injury unanswered, in course, grows weary of itself, and dies away in a voluntary remorse.

In bad dispositions, capable of no restraint but fear, it has a different effect ;-the silent digestion of one wrong provokes a second.He pursues him with the same invective :" and as David and his

men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill's side over against him ; and cursed as he went, and cast dust at him."

The insolence of base minds in success is bound. less, and would scarce admit of a comparison, did not they themselves furnish us with one, in the degrees of their abjection, when evil returns upon them :-the same poor heart which excites ungenerous tempers to triumph over a fallen adversary, in some instances, seems to exalt them above the point of courage, sinks them, in others, even below cowardice :- -not unlike some little particles of matter struck off from the surface of the dirt by sunshinedance and sport there whilst it lasts,

a

but the moment 'tis withdrawn, they fall down ;for dust they are,-and unto dust they will return; -whilst firmer and larger bodies preserve the stations which nature has assigned them, subjected to laws which no change of weather can alter.

This last did not seem to be Shimei's case : in all David's prosperity, there is no mention made of him ;-he thrust himself forward into the circle, and, possibly, was number'd amongst friends and well-wishers.

When the scene changes, and David's troubles. force him to leave his house in despair,-Shimei is the first man we hear of who comes out against him.

The wheel turns round once more ; Absalom is cast down, and David returns in peace :-Shimei suits his behaviour to the occasion, and is the first man also who hastes to greet him ;-and, had the wheel turn'd round a hundred times, Shimei, I dare say, in every period of its rotation, would have been uppermost.

O Shimei ! would to heaven, when thou wast slain, that all thy family had been slain with thee, and not one of thy resemblance left ! but ye have multiplied exceedingly, and replenished the earth; and, if I prophesy rightly, ye will in the end subdue it!

There is not a character in the world which has 80 bad an influence upon the affairs of it, as this of Shimei. Whilst power meets with honest checks, and the evils of life with honest refuge, the world will never be undone : but thou, Shimei, hast sapp'd it at both extremes ; for thou corruptest prosperity, and 'tis thou who hast broken the heart of poverty; and, so long as worthless spirits can be ambi

tious ones, 'tis a character we shall never want. O! it infests the court, the camp,--the cabinet !-it infests the church !

-go where you will,-in every quarter, in every profession, you see a Shimei fol. lowing the wheels of the fortunate through thick mire and clay

-Haste, Shimei !-haste, or thou wilt be undone forever.-Shimei girdeth up his loins and speedeth after him.-Behold the hand which governs every thing-takes the wheels from off his chariot, so. that he who' driveth, driveth on heavily.-Shimei doubles his speed,but 'tis the contrary way; he flies like the wind over a sandy desert, and the place thereof shall know it no more :-stay, Shimei! 'tis your patron,-your friend, your bene. factor; 'tis the man who has raised you from the dunghill !- 'Tis all one to Shimei : Shimei is the barometer of every man's fortune; marks the rise and fall of it, with all the variations from scorching hot to freezing cold upon his countenance, that the smile will admit of.-Is a cloud upon thy affairs ?see--it hangs over Shimei's brow.-Hast thou been spoken for to the king or the captain of the host without success ?-Look not into the court-calendar ;-the vacancy is filled up in Shimei's face.Art thou in debt ?-though not to Shimei,—no matter;-the worst officer of the law shall not be more insolent.

What then, Shimei, is the guilt of poverty so black,mis it of so general a concern, that thou and all thy family must rise up as one man to reproach it ?- when it lost every things- did it lose the right to pity too? or did he who makech poor as well as maketh rich, strip it of its natural powers to mollify

the hearts and supple the temper of your race? Trust me, ye have much to answer for; it is this treatment which it has ever met with from spirits like yours, which has gradually taught the world to look

upon it as the greatest of evils, and shun it. as the worst disgrace;- and what is it, I beseech you ; -what is it that man will not do to keep clear of so sore an imputation and punishment ?-is it not to fly from this that “he rises early,-late takes rest, " -and eats the bread of carefulness?"—that he plots, contrives-swears,-lies--shuffles,-puts on all shapes--tries all garments, wears them with this or that side outward,

just as it favours his escape ?

1 They who have considered our nature affirm, that shame and disgrace are two of the most insupportable evils of human life: the courage and spirits of many have mastered other misfortunes, and borne themselves up against them; but the wisest and best of souls have not been a match for these; and we have many a tragical instance on record, what greater evils have been run into, merely to avoid this one.

Without this tax of infamy, poverty, with all the burdens it lays upon our flesh,—so long as it is virtuous, could never break the spirits of a man; all its hunger, and pain, and nakedness, are nothing to it; they have some counterpoise of good: and besides, they are directed by Providence, and must be submitted to: but these are afflictions not from the hand of God, or nature ;" for they do come forth «s of the dust,” and most properly may be said “ to s spring out of the ground;" and this is the reason they lay such stress upon our patience,--and in the

end, create such a distrust of the world, as makes us look up, and pray, “Let me fall into thy hands, "O God! but let me not fall into the hands of men.

Agreeable to this was the advice of Eliphaz to Job in the day of his distress : acquaint thyself

(said he) now with God.”-Indeed his poverty seemed to have left him no other friends; the swords of the Sabeans had frightened them away, all but a few; and of what kind they were, the very proverb, of Job's comforters,--says enough.

It is an instance which gives one great concern. for human nature, that a man, " who always wept « for him who was in trouble ;-who never saw any « perish for want of clothing ;-who never suffered « the stranger to lodge in the street, but opened his 6 door to the traveller;"—that a man of so good a character, That he never caused the eyes of the 66. widow to fail,or had eaten his morsel by him6 self alone, and the fatherless had not eaten there. « of;"—that such a man, the moment he fell into poverty, should have occasion to cry out for quar.. ter,-" Have mercy upon me, I my friends! for " the hand of God has touched me.”—Gentleness and humanity, one would think, would melt the þardest heart, and charm the fiercest spirit; bind up the most violent hand, and still the most abusive tongue ;--but the experiment failed in a stronger instance of him, whose meat and drink it was to do us good; and in pursuit of which, whose whole life was a continued scene of kindness and of insults, for which we must go back to the same explanation with which we set out—and that is, the scandal of poverty.

" This fellow, we know not whence he is,"-was the popular cry of one part ; and with those who

« PředchozíPokračovat »