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Fred Wight




THE AfiftfSfJ

From behind the fence a dark lantern gleamed, and a rude hand
was laid upon his shoulder. p. 6:?.






Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1862, by the


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

















Juntos, anb |)is <ranb-baugl}ter

ONE would not think that blindness was likely
to make a man more cheerful than other people.
But I have often noticed that, so far from being
more morose and melancholy and ill-tempered,
the blind very frequently seem to be very happy
people. How often have I seen them sitting
in the sunshine, and, although the light could
bring no vision to their eyes, yet what a se-
renity, what a glad, sunny feeling, appeared to
be spread over their faces ! I have sometimes
thought that the eyes were closed on those
objects which bring irritation and care to most
of us, and that so their spiritual eyes the eyes
of their understanding were more clearly
opened to perceive those lovely and tranquil


scenes of perfect blessedness which calm the
spirit with " the joy unspeakable and full of

I know this was tne case with happy Amos,
blind Amos, old Amos Blake, who lived in
our village, and was, of all our villagers, per-
haps, the most uninterruptedly cheerful. Who
ever saw him out of temper ? Who ever heard
a single harsh word trip over his lips ? He
lived in a pretty little cottage on the edge of
Warley Common, and he had lived there nearly
all his days. Most persons pitied him at first,
and often wondered how he lived at all in his
loneliness ; but when they came to know him
better, the wonder soon ceased, and the pity
too. Amos had long before lost his wife, but
with him, in his cottage, resided his cheerful
grand-daughter, Melly, as bright-eyed find
light-hearted a girl of twenty years old as I
ever knew. I think you would not have called
them poor, the pretty, little, neatly-furnished
cottage did not look poor, and I am sure in
this world's wealth you would not have called
them rich. Indeed, old Amos knew where to
find a few shillings a week ; then the cottage
and the bit of ground were his own ; and some-
times Melly went out and did a day's sewing


at a neighbour's, and by this means obtained for
herself the little money she needed. Then they
were very frugal and economical ; and, although
you could hardly believe it, Amos did all the
gardening himself for his little plot of ground.
He and Melly, that is, managed it between
them, for I do not think he could have got
on very well without her help ; and so the long
and short of it is, or was, a happier couple
never lived in our village. She looked like a
very bright April day without its showers,
and he like a very bright December day with-
out its sleet and snow.

They had a lodger in their house, though,
without whose help neither of them could have
been so happy. This third person had a most
wonderful way of saying to both Amos and Melly
the very things most likely to make them
cheerful. He always sat down with them
morning and evening, and spoke to them both
frequently during every day. When Amos
was alone, he came and sat and talked with
him ; and when Melly went out to work, he
would call in and speak with her, and make
her heart often thrill with the thought of his
love and goodness to a poor, friendless cottage
girl. Now, I dare say you wonder who this


lodger was, and what was his name. It was

Beautiful little cottage ! So simple and
happy-looking at all times, its pretty little
beds of flowers before the door, and its jessa-
mine and honeysuckle twining round the win-
dows. Melly loved her flowers. They were
almost the only companions she had, certainly
they were her most intimate companions.
And then it is very delightful to have some-
thing to water, and tend, and look after in the
spare moments of time. And although she
paid all attention to her grandfather, and read
to him many a chapter of Holy Scripture and
many a book, still she had moments, and hours
too, when he did not need her; and at some
such times you might find her watering her
beds, training her flowers against the wall, or
propping up the pinks and sweet-williams and
convolvuluses; for I can assure you she had
quite a rich collection of flowers, fuschias and
verbenas and calceolarias. Though I do not
know that she laid out much money, either, on
them, as, indeed, she had but little to lay out;
but most* of our villagers loved her, and she
had, as her love was known, many a little
present of flowers. I know that our clergy-


man's wife sent her down, one spring, seeds
enough and sprigs enough to stock her whole
garden ; and I believe she has regularly con-
tributed to Melly's garden annuals ever since.
It was a beautiful cottage, and a beautiful
garden ; but I am sure it seemed to me always
most lovely because I believed that Amos and
Melly loved Jesus. For no house is lovely
where He does not live ; and I know that Melly^
in the midst of her garden, her roses and
lilies and plants, thought often of her Infinite
Friend who was called the " Rose of Sharon,"
the " Lily of the Valley," the " Plant of Re-

I have said that Amos was blind. Did you
ever notice that often people who are blind
have the lost sense made up to them by extra-
ordinary acuteness in another, usually in hear-
ing or in feeling ? Amos had a truly wonderful
sense of touch : his sensibility was most exqui-
site; there appeared to be some mysterious
communication between him and a person or
a body before they had actually touched him.
He knew any person again, after they had
spoken to him once, by touching theio.. They
need not speak. Touch was his eye, his ear :
I think it was tasting and smelling to him


too. And it was from this peculiarity of blind
Amos that there arose that circumstance in
his mental character which determined me to
write this little history of him. He could
not see. How do you think he made up the
pleasure of the deprived sense to himself?
Why, by sitting still and rubbing his fingers
over a piece of silk velvet. It was his great
delight, his chief sensual pleasure. In any
company it was a luxury if he could press his
finger against any part of a velvet dress. If
I had on a velvet waistcoat, he would beg as a
favour to be allowed to pass his finger over it.
It communicated a pleasure to his whole frame.
And, what seems more wonderful, it commu-
nicated ideas and sensations to his mind, till
at last all things were tried by a sort of velvet
standard, were reduced to the velvet prin-
ciple : velvet became in his mind his mode of
judgment of men and things. The softness
of his favourite substance harmonized well
with the gentleness of his own mind. It was
only his mode of expressing his love to God
when, speaking of his goodness to him, he said,
" Yes, he has placed me in a beautiful velvet

Thus he regarded every thing from his sense


of touch. He was cut off from the images
and figures and suggestions of the external
world of light, and so he referred every thing
to feeling. He had, too, a number of proverbs
which he was in the habit of bringing forth on
various occasions. "When any one meditated
any act of retaliation for any injury, either
real or imaginary, he would say, " Well, if
you are determined to kick, be sure and put
on your velvet shoes' 1 If any words of anger
were about to be uttered, or if any message
of anger were to be sent, he would say, " You
had better put it up in velvet" Sometimes he
would say, "A velvet whip breaks no bones ;"
or, " Wheels that run over velvet make no

He was, as you will see, a happy and most
genial old man. Divine grace had done much in
him, and much for him. His temperament
was happy and sunshiny, and, in addition to
his natural temperament, the divine Spirit had
wrought in him such a contented mind, such
tranquillity and obedience to the divine will,
that it seemed as if, even while lying under
such a sad cloud as the entire loss of sight, his
life was nevertheless perfectly cloudless. I
never heard a murmur escape him. Doubtless



he had his battles within ; for life is a battle-
field, however we may pass it, and some have
to fight the battle most within themselves, and
others most without. Some find the battle-field
most in the heart, and others find it most in the
world. However, blind Amos on wintry and
cold and rainy days sat by his fireside, and in
cheerful summer-times sat most frequently
outside his cottage-door. But some part of
every day was occupied either in feeling his
velvet or talking over his velvet lessons.



Crg % #tlferf fjriraiplt.

I SHALL never forget the first time I heard
blind Amos talk. It was one fine evening,
and a number of us boys had been merrily
playing on the green, until, as is not unfre-
quently the case with the games and amuse-
ments of this world, in our childhood and in
boyhood, type of after-life, the play had
ended in a quarrel, and I am afraid there
were some indications of a fight brewing
among some of us.

We were not far from Amos, who was sit-
ting at his little garden-gate. He called to
us, and began to talk in this way : " Boys, you
have had a good long game, and it will soon
be time for you to go home ; but, before you
go, I have one word to say to you, and espe-
cially to the two of you I heard speaking so
angrily just now: I fear you were going to



fight. Eecollect always, before you begin to
fight, to put on your velvet gloves. When I
was a boy, I was not blind then I remem-
ber it was just such an evening as I think this
must be, I and a number of my playmates
all gone now, I know not where had ram-
bled through the woods and fields, till, quite
forgetful of the fading light, we found our-
selves far from home. We found we had lost
our way. It did so happen that we were
nearer home than we thought; but how to get
to it was the question. By the edge of the
field we saw a man coming along, and we ran
to ask him. Whether he was in trouble or
not I do not know, but he gave us some very
surly answer. Just then there came along
another man, a near neighbour, and, with a
merry smile on his face, 'Jem,' said he, l a
mans tongue is like a cat's: it is either a
piece of velvet or a piece of sand-paper, just as
he likes to use it and to make it', and, I declare,
you always seem to use your tongue for sand-
paper. Try the velvet, man! Try the velvet
principle /'

11 1 did not think then I could not know
what velvet was to be to me in after-life ; but
I never forgot the good-humoured smile, the


good-tempered tongue, of that man ; and I
have often thought, when I have heard angry
words rising, and have sometimes heard blows
struck, that things would have gone on far
better if the velvet principle had been tried.

" When I was apprenticed, there was a lad
apprenticed with me who tried all my patience
and power of endurance. He took a strange
dislike to me ; he annoyed me in every way
he could. I was very passionate, and many
a sharp and angry expression would come
nearly to my tongue ; but I prayed for grace
to control my temper, and I often muttered
to myself, ' Now, Amos, try the velvet.' Some-
times the sand-paper got the best of it ; but I
always found that, while it exasperated and
broke the skin, it did no good to me, it did
not make my life a bit more quiet. Every
angry word left me more unhappy than before.
I invariably said to myself, 'Why did you not
try the velvet principle T

" In the town where I was apprenticed, I
knew a couple when I was nearly out of my
time ; and what an unhappy life they led, to be
sure ! They lived in our street. I do not say
they came out into the street to wrangle, but
everybody knew how unhappy their lives


were. The name of the woman before she
was married was Fife, and, when her temper
was very much vexed, her husband, I remem-
ber, a most provoking fellow, would some-
times come and stand at the street-door and
ask the neighbours to ' come and listen to his
fife/ and inquire of them if they 'did not
admire the sound of that fife.' And very
funny, I dare say, it was that he should say so ;
but I know that it always irritated his wife
the more. Then sometimes she would take
up the sand-paper ; and when she began, I re-
member, she was quite a match for her hus-
band. She would ask him if his temper did
not want a poultice, if he had recovered
from the tongue-ache, if she should get him
a little tincture of nettles. They were the
talk of the whole neighbourhood. I used to
hear them and think about the sand-paper and
the velvet very often. I knew that one or
the other would have been soothed and lulled
by a kind word or two, and I saw that a
kind word would have prevented the whole
quarrel ; and I used to think and say, ' Why,
they would begin life again with quite a new,
everlasting honey-moon if they would only try
the velvet principle.'


" Then I became, I hope, a Christian, and I
found that the Christian's ' feet were to be
shod with the preparation of the gospel of
peace.' I found that the Christian, wherever
he went, was to carry the spirit of peace, a
loving heart, and a loving life ; and I found,
too, that the love of God in the heart is the
only thing which will conquer the temper or
the tongue, or make the ' speech' to be, as
the apostle said, 'always with grace, seasoned
with salt.' But I do think that after I be-
came a Christian I had more trials and infirmi-
ties of temper than before. I had a greater
conflict with self, for I had more to live for :
but every day, as I arose in the morning and
went to bed at night, I used especially to pray
that God would dwell in me by his love
through Jesus Christ, and that he would make
me more loving to others, and that thus I
might be able to carry out my favourite velvet

" The best men sometimes get into trouble.
The minister of our parish did something I
forget what that created a strong feeling
against him. I do not know now whether he
was right or wrong. I fancy he was right;
for he bore a good deal of persecution with a


meek and quiet spirit. He went about from
house to house in the parish, apparently not
heeding any of the remarks about him. In-
deed, I know there were no grounds for saying
any thing against his character ; and he be-
haved, I remember, in so gentle and loving a
manner that in a month or two he won all
hearts to him again. I have no doubt it was
a severe struggle ; but he conquered. He con-
quered himself, and he conquered the village.
I remember how much I admired him, and
how gladly I beheld an illustration of my
favourite doctrine* It was a perfect triumph
of the velvet principle.

"When I came to live in this village, and
to follow my occupation here, I found many
of my neighbours did not like me. I do not
know why. I never went to the public-house.
I did not associate much with other people.
I was thought to be above my station in life. I
had innumerable sins of pride laid at my door.
I lost many shillings, and in consequence of
this cruelty I often, with my poor wife, passed
a whole day with nothing to eat or to give
to our children. Sometimes I thought I must
leave the place ; sometimes my faith began to
fail : but God enabled me to hold on fast and


firm. I determined to say nothing myself. I
have always said, ' Boys, if you will let a lie,
or any other bad thing, alone, and not fight it,
or kick it, or handle it, it will rot and die at
last;' and so I found it. The good opinion of
my neighbours came quite as unexpectedly
and undeservedly as their censure. But I
attributed the change to my following up my
attachment to the velvet principle.

"Well, my dear boys, I dare say I have
talked to you so long that you have quite forgot
what you were going to quarrel about ; and I
am sure you are very glad that I stopped you
in the midst of the quarrel, and you will thank
me, if you are wise boys, for having prevented
you from giving way to bad tempers. Now,
recollect that in the long run gentleness is the
truest strength. I know it will not seem so at
first : there seems to be a good deal more power
in a blow than in a kind word, and much more
power in an unkind look than in a kind one. But
it is not so. Gentleness is the truest force.
"What does the Bible tell us is to lead the lion,
the leopard and the wolf ? Why, a little child :
' A little child shall^ lead them.' The most
weak and innocent thing you can think of shall
lead the most cruel and savage creatures.


t When I was a boy, I remember hearing of
a little girl who had an ornament given to
her by a good being. Some people said it was
a fairy-gift. The ornament was so valuable
that nothing on earth could buy it. And it
was invisible, although it was always worn.
The relations and friends of the girl could
not make out what ornament the good being
could have left. It was not gold, nor a diamond,
nor a precious stone of any kind. At last it
turned out that the ornament was a 'meek
and quiet spirit/ by which every thing she did
was to turn into gold and every thing she said
was to turn into good. My boys, this is an
ornament that God alone by his Spirit can give
to you. But, if he gives it, you will never give
way to evil dispositions, nor be disposed to
fight, but in all your affairs of life you will
try ike velvet principle. 11



I REMEMBER one fine morning there had
been some disturbance in our school-room, for
we had been quarrelling the night before, and
our old master had taken up the quarrel in the
morning in a rather unpleasant manner for
some of us. But I fancy it was by some
arrangement of his that, at a painful and
critical moment, into our school-room came
old blind Amos. Heartily glad we were to
see him, for it was yielded to him as a kind of
right that all canings and floggings vanished
on his approach, and we knew that he would
be sure to speak to us, when we should cer-
tainly be entertained by a number of his sto-
ries and sayings ; and so, truly, in a few mo-
ments he began :

You have all read of the Apostle John, and


know that he was 'the disciple whom Jesus
loved,' and how he wrote more than any other
of the apostles about love. When he was a
young man, he was called, like Mark, a ' son
of thunder/ and you know he and another
disciple came to Christ and asked him to call
down fire from heaven on some Samaritans
who they thought were doing wrong, and
Christ rebuked them and told them they ' did
not know what manner of spirit they were of;'
but he leaned on the breast of Jesus and
learned of him, and became like him; and in
his old age he saw that a loving spirit is the
best of all possessions, and he never was weary
of saying to his friends, ' Love one another.'

"It is said that when John became a very
old man, so very old and infirm that he could
scarcely speak, he stood in the midst of the
people and stammered out, as well as he could,
' Little ch-il-dren love one-another.' The
last Sunday he spent on earth whether this
account is true or not, it would be very much
like him he could not even pronounce his
usual favourite words, but he got partly
through them, and said, in trembling, stam-
mering tones, ' LITTLE CHILDREN LOVE


"My dear children, there is nothing like
love. But perhaps if I ask you what love is,
you will be unable to tell me. Some people
have told me it is gratitude; but it is more
than that, because we must love many people
to whom we cannot feel any gratitude, people
who have never done us any good, but, on the
contrary, evil. Some people have told me love
is sympathy ; but it is more than that : you
must love bad people, people with whom you
have no sort of sympathy. Sympathy is fellow-
feeling ; love is more than benevolence, more
than kindness: it is the constant desire, for
Christ's sake, to be and to act like Christ, to
do to each other as Christ did to us.

" I often think that human nature would be
soft, beautiful and smooth as velvet, but for
three black, coarse, ugly threads which sin
has woven into the very grain of it; and you
will never love one another so long as you con-
tinue to weave these black threads into your life.
The first black thread is THOUGHTLESSNESS.
A great many unkind words are spoken, and
unkind deeds done, not so much from intention
as carelessness. People do not think. I have
read among the fairy-tales of an old woman who
never opened her mouth but out jumped a toad,


or a snake, or a leech. We should think such
an old lady a very disagreeable companion to
sit down to tea with ; but all persons who care-
lessly tell stories calculated to do their neigh-
bours harm, who indulge in scandal and in
mischief-making, are like the old woman in
the fairy-story; and when I go from house to
house, and hear this bad tale and the other,
although I cannot see the person who tells me,
I say, as each sad story is told, Ah, there
goes a toad, there goes a snake, or there a leech
is sure to draw blood. The wise man spoke of
a madman, who flung about fire-brands, arrows
and death, and said, Am I not in sport ? The
careless slanderer is just such a fire-brand
flinger. When there is no tale-bearer, the strife
ceases; and most tale-bearers are thoughtless
persons, whose mischief is done not so much
out of wilful wickedness as careless idleness.

" I knew a man once I have known many
such men, but this man I especially remember
who had nothing to do. He walked every
day over the village, looking into the business
of everybody. He picked up one story and
carried it to this house, where it received some
additions, and it was then carried to another.
He had nothing to do but to travel about in this


way, and he never thought of doing any harm ;
but the mischief was, he never thought of doing
any good. There was a poor girl in the village
who lived with and worked for her mother.
Her life was as gentle and as innocent as the
flowers in her garden ; but this old man thought
he had discovered something against her, and
he came to me and sat down, and after a little
silence he told me what he thought. I knew
the poor girl well. I knew her piety and her
purity of life. But I heard his tale out; and
then said I, ' Peter, how far do you mean to
let that toad travel ?' ' Toad !' said he : ' what
toad ?' ' That toad/ said I. ' Don't you see
that that story you have just told me is an
ugly, black toad? It will never do to let it go
sprawling and crawling over our village. Pretty
work, indeed ! So, Peter, let's kill it here at
once.' And we did. I never heard the story
mentioned again : and I believe I did the care-
less old gossip some good ; for, often when he
began to talk to me, or tell me a tale, I would
say to him, 'Peter, no more black toads, I

" Yes, my lads, thoughtlessness spoils and
defaces the beautiful velvet of life. I said it
was the black thread in it, the coarse grain in



it. You would save yourself from doing a
great deal of evil if you would ask, before you
do any thing, what it is you are going to do ;
and it often happens to you, and to much older
people, that you do evil almost unintentionally
because thoughtlessly, and then do evil to
support yourselves in the evil you have done
already. A good many people act as John
Webster did with his cow. He did not mend
his hedge : so the cow got out, and got into the

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Online LibraryAmerican Sunday-School UnionBlind Amos and his velvet principles → online text (page 1 of 7)