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of envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitable-
ness ; and as their tub rolls they spill these
over the city or the village. There is in the
world a great deal of wanton mischief-making.
I knew an unpleasant person once, who, I be-
lieve, assailed and abused an innocent man
just because he thought he added to his re-
spectability by it. A black chimney-sweep,
fresh from the chimney, ran up against a rich
miller, and bragged about it all day. 'You
see, 'said he, ' this white came off of Miller Jones
this morning, as he and I were walking down
the street together.' A little farther on, he
said, ' I can't bear the look of this white flour
on my black jacket: this is what comes of
walking with Miller Jones. 1 A little farther
on, he said, ' I wish Miller Jones would mind



50 BLIND AMOS.

where lie went, and not be so fond of leaving
bis flour on me.' Meantime, Miller Jones,
who had been tempted at the time to give the
chimney-sweep a good thwack for his careless-
ness, had gone home and brushed out the
black soot from the neighbourhood of his more
honourable flour, and thought no more about it.
But it was such an honour to the chimney-
sweep to have even had an opportunity of
running against a miller, that he abused him
for many a day. If a man's character is very
low, it seems to him to reflect some credit to
rend a hole in the character of a man who
stands high. Whenever a man comes to me
with the tale of a tattered character, I always
say, ' That man has a hole in his coat some-
where/ In the public-house, close by where
we ^it, do we not know that Black Anthony,
who is lazy, drunk, dishonest, a reprobate,
unable to maintain himself or wife, yet a
young, strong man, is sponging on his father
and mother and staining the characters of
half the people in the village? So it is that
men whose unholy dispositions are their curse
seek to sow strife wherever they go ; and what
a sad thing, to be able only to say, late in
life ' Well, I have not done much, but I have



BLIND AMOS. 51

sown a good quantity of nettle-seed, at any
rate, and I know it will grow!'

" How different the thoughts of that man or
woman who is able to say, ' Lord, I am a poor,
weak, wicked creature at the best, but I have
sought to be sustained by thy grace, so that I
have soiled no character, been no tale-bearer.
I have sought to make peace wherever I have
gone, and, remembering how much might be
said against me, to have little to say against
any one else.' Thus, instead of having the
feet shod with iron, like Black Anthony, how
much better to walk through the world IN

VELVET SLIPPERS !"




52 BLIND AMOS.



Y.
f on'i fat

IT w#s not only in relation to others that
Amos applied his velvet principle : he was very
fond of applying it to the various disasters and
evils of life. He used often to say to any one
who brought him a piece of bad news, of a
bad crop of potatoes or apples, or of a loss of
money, or of a piece of unkind treatment,
" Ah ! I'm very sorry to hear it; but don t fret.
If the cloth is bad, fraying it will only wear it
out more quickly. Fretting kills more people
than the cholera. Take it quietly. If the
physic is nasty, swallow it .down quickly ; if
the road is unpleasant and you must travel it,
walk over it as quickly as you can, and lighten
the way by singing something cheerful. If
there is a dark prospect without, it will not
mend it to have another dark prospect within :
oil does more good than blows to a creaking



BLIND AMOS. 53

door or a strained leg ; when a man fell into
the gutter, grumbling never picked him up
again ; and, whatever evils happen, the Psalm-
ist's advice is good, 'Fret not thyself. 1 "

" I shall not very soon forget," said Amos,
one day, " a lesson I had when poor Bill Mason
fell from the ladder, and was carried home so
stunned. You know his married sister lives
next door to him, and when they brought him
in on a shutter, his wife frightened the poor
fellow, and the whole house and neighbourhood,
crying that Bill was killed. I dare say it was
very bad for the poor thing ; but his sister came
in, and although she was very much shocked and
frightened, still, she was as quiet as a shadow
in a house. Till the doctor came in, she eased
his pain, applying lotions of water to the
inflamed parts. If poor Bill had depended
on his wife for a nurse, a long, bad time he
would have had of it; but his sister sent his
wife in to attend to her own house, and she
moved about, never in a bustle and never for-
getful. His wife was always crying about her
poor husband, and the loss of time, and the
small money from his beneficial society; but
his sister, while feeling quite as much for her
brother's pain, often stopped her short, in the



54 BLIND AMOS.

midst of her cries, with, ' Polly, Polly, don't
fret:

" Such fretfulness reminds me of Tom Kaw-
son, when he was a boy, sitting down crying
in the lane.

"'What's the matter ?' said I.

" 'I've lost master's pig/ said he.

'"How came that about?' said I.

"'Why,' said he, 'I was sent to drive it
home to butcher Perkins, and I just got up to
get one or two of these apples, and the pig was
gone ; and I've been back and forward ever so
far, trying to find it, and I can't, and master '11
beat I so.' Here there came another blubber,
and a long string of ' oh, my !'s 'oh, my !'s.

" ' Well,' said I, ' you are a stupid little chap.
Sitting here won't find the pig.'

" ' I've looked everywhere after it,' said he.

" ' Not everywhere, or you would have looked
in the right place and found it.'

" The apple-tree the young urchin had been
gathering fruit from hung over from a^n orchard
across the road ; and even while we were talk-
ing, I thought I heard, somewhere close at
hand, a 'humph! humph!' very pig-like. 'It's
my belief,' said I, 'if you had spent*as much
time in looking after the lost pig as in grieving



Blurt! 3mos:.




- What's the matter ?" " I've lost mother's pig," P- 54.



BLIND AMOS. 55

over it, you would have found it by this time.
Come round here : we shall find a gate open, I
believe;' and it was so.

"'There he be, sure enough/ said Tom.

"'That's well/ said I. 'Now, recollect
always that the worst thing you can do,
whether you lose a pig or any thing else, is to
sit down, pig-like, to grunt over it, when you
should be mending the mischief. Do your
duty, and don t fret'

"Sometimes our fretfulness is still more
unamiable than this. It is not over our own
disasters, but over our neighbours' prosperity.
Many people put me in mind of a boy a
school-fellow of mine who was always crying
for what was not his. I recollect the first time
I saw him he was crying in the play-ground.

"'What is the matter?' said I.

" ' I want his marbles/ said he.

" He had a great bag of marbles of his own,
but that was not enough : he pointed to a boy
with a large bag of marbles: nothing would
satisfy him but those : so he went crying about.
He was afraid to play with his own, for fear of
losing them, and so he walked about the play-
ground and cried, ' I want his marbles ! I want
his marbles!' 5 *



56 BLIND AMOS.

" What a true type was lie of many boys
and many men! I have known a rich man
unhappy because he could not get the farm
belonging to some humble man and add it to
his estate. I have known an old lady to be
almost ill of a fever because she could not get
a little piece of ground from an allotment to
add to her garden. I have known a man doing
well in business, and making a fortune, not
easy until he had prevented some honest
family from getting a living at all, by taking
it into his already encumbered hands. And
when I have seen these things, and a thousand
like them, I think, as I go through the streets
of the village or the town, that I see thousands
of the human family fretting because they
cannot get more marbles. 'What are you
fretting for, my little fellow?' I said once to a
little chap, sitting at table with a great slice
of plum-pudding before him; and as I spoke to
him he blubbered out, 'I I I can't e-eat
any more.'

"Poor little epicure! the fretfulness of mil-
lions of people in this world has no wiser
origin than this. DON'T FRET. When the
winter comes, put on your velvet waistcoat.
There is an old proverb which says, ' A hun-



BLIND AMOS. 57

dred cart-loads of care will not pay an ounce
of debt;' and again, ' If the pain is very severe,
it cannot last, and if it is moderate, it may be
borne;' ' Black land produces white bread, and
heavy trials ought to make the heart tender.'
'Leave off groaning when trouble comes, and
take to praying.' 'Why should a living man
complain, a man for the punishment of his
sins?' 'To fret is only to sow the wind, and
that is a seed that will not produce a good
crop by itself.'

"I had an old neighbour who was like a
knight of a sorrowful countenance; he had
no real cause for misery, and I believe that
made him miserable. He often tried to get
me to pity him; but there are so many objects
of real pity in this sad world, that one has no
pity to spare for the mere fretters. Some-
times he tried one way, and sometimes another.
He would say that he knew he should die in a
workhouse.

'"What a mercy it is,' said I, 'you are not
in the workhouse already ! and what a mercy
it is that there is a workhouse to die in ! The
workhouse is a far better lodging than our
blessed Lord had. ' The foxes have holes, and
the birds of the air have nests, but he had



58 BLIND AMOS.

not where to lay his head.' He was just one
of those people who wanted you to pat their
troubles on the back, and say, 'Poor thing!'

" Some people are as careful of their troubles
as mothers are of their babies. They cuddle
them, and rock them, and hug them, and cry
over them, and fly into a passion with you if
you try to take them away from them. They
want you to fret with them, and to help them
to believe that they have been worse treated
than anybody else. If they could, they would
have a photograph of their grief, in a gold
frame, hung over the mantel-shelf for every-
body to look at. And their grief makes them,
ordinarily, selfish : they think more of their
dear little grief in the blanket and in the
cradle than they do of all the world beside;
and they call you hard-hearted if you say,
Don 't fret. 'Ah! you don't understand me:
you don't know me : you can't enter into my
trials.'

"My friend, whom I mentioned, was just of
this sort. Soon after I spoke about the work-
house, he tried another ground, where, I sup-
pose, he expected sympathy.

"'I often think,' said he, 'I shall get to
hell at last.'



BLIND AMOS. 59

"'Ah!' said I, 'what a mercy it is that we
are not there already, my dear old friend!
What a proof of God's long-suffering and
goodness, and indisposition to send us to
hell! What a proof that he desires not the
death of the sinner, but that he should repent
and live ! And, truly, if you are in hell at last,
God will not be to blame. And again/ said I,
'what a mercy, old friend, that even there the
Judge of all the earth does right! "The Lord
knoweth them that are his." " Though he slay
me, yet will I trust in him." '

'"Ah !' said he, ' you are saying things now
beyond my depth: I can only think of my
poor soul.'

" We sat -still a little while. Then said I,
' Old friend, the winter is coming on.'

" ' Ugh ! it is,' said he.

" ' Now, I'll tell you what,' I said : ' if I were
you I would take off that horse-hair shirt. It
cannot be comfortable at any time, least of all
in winter-time/

'"Horse-hair shirt!' said he. 'I wear no
horse-hair shirt. That is some of your non-
sense, Master Amos ; that is some of your con-
undrums and riddles, I know.' I went on :

" ' I would, if I were you, take off that horse-



60 BLIND AMOS.

hair shirt, and, if you want to be warm and
comfortable, get a nice velvet waistcoat to
cover your shivering body. Velvet is as cheap
as horse-hair, cheaper in the end.'

" ' What do you mean ?' said he.

"'Why, I mean this: fretfulness is like a
horse-hair shirt. The old monks used to wear
these shirts to irritate their irritability. What
a device ! studiously seeking out for occasions
for making themselves uncomfortable, like
you, who would think something was wrong
with the moral government of the world if you
could be happy for a day together. Cure
yourself of fretfulness. Velvet is nicer for
the skin than horse-hair. If you had more
faith you would have less fear. If you did
more for others you would think less of self.
Get rid of your unbelief and your selfishness,
and I shall not then have to say, Don't fret.' "



BLIND AMOS. 61



VI.

fob ftflfrei laib fcofo mt gUb-fcot |rmt.

THE worst family we had in our village was
the family of the Gibbonses. There were in
the village more daring and perhaps more
hardened sinners, but this family, as a whole,
was the worst.

The father was dead. The mother was
living with some of the remnants of a better
time when she was respected and respectable
about her. The young men were dishonest.
The girls had come to no good. They were a
ruined family ; and they were rapidly sinking
down the steep of vice into the blacker gulf of
crime. How they lived was a matter of sur-
mise. It was very well known their life could
not be honest. They never did a day's work,
and yet they always had money for drink and
gambling. Words would be only thrown away



62 BLIND AMOS.

on them. They were very near the end of their
tether.

Well, one morning our village was not a
little alarmed by the report of a great rob-
bery at Farmer Purton's. Money, plate,
and a variety of things were gone. The
question now was, who could be the robbers ?
and there seemed to be a very general idea
that there was one family not unlikely to
be implicated pretty deeply. Farmer Purton
himself stepped along to the house of the Gib-
bonses. The girls had left, and gone to a town
at no great distance, some time before. But
of the young men there was no satisfactory ac-
count. The old woman, with a tearful sincerity
about which there could be no doubt, declared
her innocence. No one suspected her; but when
she began to avouch the innocence of her boys,
it was felt that the ground was more doubtful.
A rather dark case was soon made out against
them, and a warrant taken out for their appre-
hension. There were two young men and a
young lad of not more than twelve or fourteen
years. The lad was not included in the war-
rant, although he too had disappeared with
his brothers. Before the day was out, he made
his appearance again. He had only been to



BLIND AMOS. 63

the early-morning market of the large town
near; but shrewd eyes noticed that he had
more money in his pocket than could be
picked up, night and day, in a market.

That night he started away again. His
steps were carefully followed to a field, in a
corner of which he began to dig; and, just as
he had laid bare the greater part of farmer
Purton's plate, from behind the fence a dark-
lantern gleamed, and a rude hand was laid
upon his shoulder. Before the morning, he
and his brothers were safely lodged in cus-
tody. They were hiding at no great distance
from the spot. "We have little to do with them :
the evidence was so clear that they were in-
stantly carried to the county jail.

Little sympathy was felt with them through
the village, and little was felt with the poor
mother either. But, amidst all the ruin
wrought by sin and its overthrow, it was im-
possible altogether to forget that in one house-
hold, by the corner of one emberless fireside,
a broken or breaking heart might be found
sitting. So by her miserable hearth sat poor
widow Gibbons, lonely and desolate. Gossips
visited her to inquire, but none visited her to
comfort. The neighbours wondered what she



64 BLIND AMOS.

would do, how she could live, where she would
go, when she would leave the village, whether
she would go to the workhouse. In some kinds
of distress the kindness shown by the poor to
the poor is most exemplary and full-hearted ;
but in some others (and especially in distress
like this) they exhibit to each other a degree
of coarse and unsympathizing hardness truly
distressing to see. As to the poor widow, she
sat and rocked herself to and fro on a little
stool by the fireplace. All her hope seemed
to be entirely cut off. She had no earthly rest
or trust. Disgrace had fallen like a plague on
her and her whole family. She had forgotten
God for many years, although once she had
been among His people. Thus it seemed
as if she had no friend either on earth or in
heaven. So she sat and said scarcely a word,
after replying to the first gossiping questions,
during the whole day. Towards the evening,
Amos heard of her and her distress : so he
took his old companions (his walking-stick
and Melly's arm) and started off to see if he
could comfort her. She needed comfort ; but
where was it to come from ? She sat, the
picture of stolid, dumb despair, in her misera-
ble room. It was hard, poor old creature.



BLIND AMOS. 65

She might have said, " I have nursed children,
and they have rebelled against me." The
arms that ought to have been her support and
security were the cause of her fall and ruin
and misery in her weary old age.

Amos and Melly went in. She did not look up,
however, for some time, till Amos spoke in his
kindest and most soothing tones, " How is it
with you now, poor old friend?" Then she
lifted her eyes for the first time for 'hours.

"I be all the better for seeing you, Mr.
Blake, anyhow," she said. '"I thought of
you several times to-day, and wondered whether
you would come to see me." Amos laid his
hand on her's, and, after Melly had spoken
some kind words to her, he said, " Have you
prayed to-day, Betty ? I fear you will have
forgotten that. Now, I want to talk with
you, but it's always best to pray first and talk
afterwards, and especially now. Prayer is
good at all times; but prayer is always best
at the worst times. 1 ' And then they kneeled
down, and old Amos, after some moments of
deep and impressive silence, with his hand
laid on the. cold hand of the poor widow,
poured out his heart before God for her and
her's. It was a stream of deep, holy, quiet talk



66 BLIND AMOS.

with Heaven. The simple heart of Amos ex-
pressed the widow's woes in all his own and in
all her simplicity too. How blessed prayer
is at such moments, none can know but those
who have tried its power.

The poor, stricken, bereft old creature felt
the words. They unlocked her soul, and she
burst into tears, tears which relieved and
soothed.

While old Amos sat after prayer by the old
woman, Melly bustled about, and looked a
little after the desolate cottage.

" I dare say," said Amos, before he left
home, " we shall find her in a sad state. Take
two or three little things, Melly, to make her
comfortable."

So, while the old couple talked, as I said,
Melly gathered some sticks, and brightened
and swept up the hearth, and set the kettle
on the fire, and looked into the miserable room
where old Betty slept, and shook up her bed,
and made it, I promise you, more comfortable
than it had been for many a day. Then she
came down-stairs, and found old Betty's tea-
apparatus, and from her little basket which
she had brought on her arm she took two or
three little comforts, which she hoped would



BLIND AMOS. 67

tempt the poor old creature to break her fast
before she went to her sad and weary bed.
Dear Melly! nobody heard her step as she
moved about, but before she had been in the
house many moments, she had effected such
a change! She had put this thing into a
corner, she had hung this old shawl on a nail;
and, what with a little dusting and sweep-
ing, a bright gleam from the fireplace, and a
kettle beginning to sing, the whole room looked,
I can tell you, as it had not looked for many
and many a day, ay, and month too.

And Amos was playing his part: he knew
what he thought, and what he hoped, in the
midst of the widow's sorrows ; but he did not
utter many of his thoughts, nor express, as
yet, many of his hopes, except in a very gene-
ral manner. The prayer he had offered had
opened the widow's lips. She was able to talk,
and she had found a friend to talk to, and a
friend universally beloved and honoured and
respected in the village, although in a scale of
rank not very much above herself. And thus
her tongue was liberated, and she began to
talk away freely ; and Amos performed the
part of a listener, only throwing in an occa-
sional Yes ! or No ! or Eh ? or Ah ! Do we



68 BLIND AMOS.

not all know how it eases the heart sometimes
to be allowed to talk? Talk is like tears:
it helps us to get rid of our sorrows. And
the poor, especially, love a good listener, one
who, without replying, will just pay attention
to them and take in all their tales and all their
grief without interruption.

But Amos wanted to be a true comforter;
and people in the circumstances of Betty are
generally dissatisfied unless you hold out to
them false hopes. She began to talk of get-
ting the boys off. She hoped they would come
back again. She could not think they were
guilty. No : there was Tom Forbes, and Bill
May, and a host of Toms and Bills, who were
to blame; but she could not see that her poor
boys were so culpable. They might have been
trespassers in a small way; but to break into
a house to steal, she could not believe that.
They would be acquitted, they certainly
would, and would come back and lead differ-
ent lives, and be honest and steady and sober.

Amos was a sound-hearted and real man,
and he never could hold out or encourage any
false hopes. And he had no mock philanthropy
about him, he had no sentimental sympathy
with crime. He did not approve of all, or of



BLIND AMOS. by

most, of man's methods of punishment; but
he believed that punishment for sin was a
divine law ; and although he did not regard the
punishment of revenge as at all divine or as
man's province, yet he did see clearly that sin
deserves, and must receive, punishment. For
poor widow Gibbons he had hearty sympathy.
For the two young men, I am afraid he was so
hard-hearted as to be very glad that they were
stopped. And I believe he was further so hard-
hearted as* to wish that they might be found
guilty on- their trial, as beyond all doubt they
would be. For the boy, again, he had sympa-
thy ; and for the last two or three hours he had
been revolving in his mind whether there were
no means of saving him. And the question still
was, How could it be done ? He did not say one
word of all this to the unfortunate old mother.
He thought he saw in his own mind how this
affliction might turn out greatly to the advan-
tage of old Betty; but he said very little to her.
He satisfied himself for the present with simply
holding his peace and conveying no false
hopes. He knew that conviction was certain :
so at last he said,

" I must go now, Betty. I must just tell
you, again, that you have forgotten God too



70 BLIND AMOS.

long. 'He hath smitten, he can bind up.'
You are no stranger to these things: you
know who said ; ' When my heart is over-
whelmed within me, lead me to the rock that
is higher than I.' It is quite true, all God's
waves and billows have gone over you; but I
believe 'he will command his loving-kindness
in the daytime.' ' Pour out your heart before
him.' ' God is a refuge and strength, a very
present help in time of trouble.'"

All these words were said so gently and im-
pressively that Betty not only heard,, but felt,
every syllable. "And now," said Amos, " be-
fore I go, (and I must go at once,) I mean to
know you have drunk this cup of tea and
eaten this little bit of toast; and then I shall
think that you'll have another cup and eat
another piece after I am gone."

The poor old thing declared she could not
touch it; but Amos knew that, although she
could not have eaten when he went into the
cottage, she had refreshed herself by talking :
and Melly brought her a pan of cold water
and made her bathe her hands and face;
for during the greater part of the night and
all day she had sat rocking herself to and fro
by her miserable fireplace.



BLIND AMOS. 71

And so the cup of tea was drunk and the
bit of toast was eaten ; and when Amos rose
to leave, "Don't forget to pray !" said he, with
his fingers on the latch.

"No," said she; "and when I do pray, you
may depend on it, I shall pray for blessings to
rest on you."

That night, in the cottage of the blind
man the widow was not forgotten, nor were the


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