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ourselves like men, and to be strong,' as when
we are tempted to those struggles and im-
petuous impulses which show our restlessness
of soul.

" To exercise us in the school of patience is
one end of our being here ; for patience puts
all our powers to the proof and the test. It
tries our metal, as we say. But trials would
be very differently borne if they were met in
the spirit of John Collins. I was condoling
with him the other day on his broken leg; and
he said, 'Well, there is one thing about that
which is comforting : I never knew a man have
his leg broken twice in the same place.'

" Nor did I. Our misfortunes are not often



116 BLIND AMOS.

duplicates : we do not feel the second trial
as we felt the first. The Spanish proverb
says, ' It is not the stones fault if a man fall
over it twice;' and an old divine says, 'We
ought not to give God the trouble to scourge
us twice with the same stick.' Be consoled.
The troubles of this year can never happen to
you again. Every year brings its own winter;
and all winters have not the same depth of
snow. A stout heart conquers ill luck. If the
shower falls, walk fast; and if you get wet
through, there is one consolation, that you
cannot get any wetter. I have often talked
off a grumbling fit by a score or two of pro-
verbs like these.

" And I have often noticed this : the meekest
spirits bear most. The most troublesome
customer I ever visited was Tom Porgis, the
soldier, when he was home here ill. He was
what would be called a brave man, full of
animal courage, but he had no passive virtues.

" 'Why,' said he, ' should I lie here like an
old cow? I must get up;' but he soon fell
back again in his bed, weak and infirm. ' I
would not mind,' said he, ' going and having
a bullet put through me, and have done with
it; but to lie here like this !' I tried to tell



BLIND AMOS. 117

him that endurance is the best bravery, but
he could not understand that. I have often
talked with advanced Christians who were
almost as slow to believe what a great poet
says, that

' They also serve who only stand and wait.'

Yet I have known a poor woman confined to
her bed for sixteen years, and there she lay, un-
murmuring and unrepining, her gentle spirit
always enjoying peace; and, as I think of her
now, she seems to be greater than the soldier,
nobler and braver. Her meekness and gentle-
ness seemed so strong and powerful that it
was like velvet in armour.

" We have need of patience. Some men have
attained to such a degree of patience have
preserved their minds in so perfect a state of
calm, unbroken and collected that it is quite
amazing to us. There was once a great man
named EPICTETUS. In his early days he was
a slave, and his master diverted himself with
striking his leg with a stick. He said, 'If
you continue to give such heavy strokes, you'll
break my leg.' His master broke his leg,
and he only said, 'Did I not tell you you
would break my leg ? and now, you see, you've
done it.' And this man, when he escaped



118 BLIND AMOS.

from slavery, became one of the greatest
philosophers of the heathen world; but he
lived in a plain cottage, to which there was
no door, and the furniture of the very mean-
est kind. He used to study by a plain, iron
lamp, and when it was stolen he said, ' I'll dis-
appoint that thief if he should come again, for
I will only have an earthen one ;' yet, after his
death, we are told that that very earthen lamp
sold for seventy pounds, as a curiosity. I do
not say that it is desirable to reach, or to
attempt to reach, such a state of patient
endurance as this. But it shows how far even
heathen men were able to wear . velvet in
armour.

11 The value of patience depends on our
power to feel. I do not give much credit to a
stone because it does not quarrel with me if I
kick my foot against it. But when a sensitive
mind is able to bear and to forbear, this moves
my admiration. We have all read what
Indians will endure at the stake, how they
will bear, and that too without a cry, pains,
agonies and cruelties which but to mention
them sickens the heart. And there are some
spirits stretched out on the rack of this hard
and unfeeling world, who endure in their



BLIND AMOS. 119

hearts the most cruel pains. Sometimes the
world will persecute the more when they sup-
pose the victim does most feel. Some persons
enjoy the sight of a heart in torment : to
them it is the same thing as the boys' amuse-
ment of sticking a cockchafer on a pin to
hear its buzzing and to see its fluttering;
and at such times we should become 'wearied
and faint in our minds if we did not con-
sider Him who endured such contradiction of
sinners against himself.' But that recollection
has the same effect on many as it had on
Robert Hall, who, in his great affliction and
pain, said, ' I have not complained, sir, and I
won't complain.' And the uncomplaining, suf-
fering soul is like velvet in armour.

11 There is an old proverb which says, ' The
world is his who has patience. 1 A great man
has said that ' The world is conquered by time,
by faith and by energy. 1 A rain-drop fell
from the sky into the mouth of an oyster, and
in the course of time it became a pearl ; but
it had to wait. A mulberry-leaf became a
robe, adorning the form of a queen ; but it had
to wait. The waiting, persevering, patient
man overcomes ; and it was therefore of such
a man that the Arab proverb said, l If you



120 BLIND AMOS.

fling him into a river, hell come up with a
fish in his mouth! He'll use the very adver-
sities and persecutions in such a way that they
will be sure to do him good. We read of
Christ that ' he learned obedience by the things
which he suffered; 1 and 'by his obedience he
became the author of eternal life to them that
are sanctified.'

11 In a village where I once spent some time
of my life, lived a poor old body, very good,
sensible, pious, but she would have her own
way. And perhaps it was very well for her
that she had enough to do to keep body and
soul together, and to find food for two or three
young mouths; for she was a widow. But
I have seldom known any person take the
troubles of life and the evil words of people
more quietly than she did.

'"As to trouble,' said she, ' I've made up my
mind to it; and what one makes up one's
mind to, one manages to get over; and as to
people, why, bless their dear silly souls, it's
the best way many of them know of getting
rid of their own troubles to be making
troubles for their neighbours. Oh,' said she.
1 they used to worret me fair out of my senses,
I can tell you ; but I's up-sides with 'em now.



BLIND AMOS. 121

I always begin the morning with the know-
ledge that I'm to have something to fret me,
or more than fret me. / don't meet troubles
half-way; but it's as well to be on the look-
out. We don't live far from the devil, and
he's always flinging stones over in poor bodies'
gardens, and one may light on our head. So
I e'en every morning go to the good Lord and
say, " Thou hast given me another day's work
to do, and thou must e'en give me strength to
do it with." I talk to him like that; and he
always hears me and gives me just what I
want. Then, for the people in the world, I
used to be always having a lot of chattering,
story-telling bodies coming in, and they did a
world of mischief to my soul. But one night
I just up and told the Lord how uncomfortable
it made me, and I said, " You must, Lord, put
a stop to these bodies." And he did ; for the
next day when they came in with their stories
I was about my ironing, and I went and got
the Bible and put it down, and said, " Now you
read a chapter out of that;" and the next I
told to do the same, and the next too. Many
a precious chapter I got read to me that way.
I did that. Well, you see, lots on 'em stayed
away after that, and we used to get on very



122 BLIND AMOS.

blessedly indeed. Then, you see, I had no
opportunity of hearing what any of them said
about me. I wouldn't hear it. But, bless you,
I knew they talked, and I made that a matter
for the Lord, too ; for we be poor crusty crea-
tures, and a little puts us out. But I had
grace given me to think it was all well. As
to their talking, it couldn't eat me, nor drink
me, nor give me the small-pox nor the fever.
I won't say but I felt a little cross at
first, and I know that I be a cross-grained
and crooked bit of stick ; but then the Lord
knows it too, and he makes great allowances
for me. I tried to do my work so that there
should be no grumbling about it, and, if there
was grumbling, I said to myself, "Now, Peggy,
thou must mind and take care to do it better;"
and now it's a long time since I had any
thing without to disturb my peace. In the
kingdom of heaven there is not a more cross-
grained piece of stuff than I am, and I see
that the Lord has led me in just the way: he
has led me, to teach me the lessons he only
can teach.' Now, do you not think that
simplicity, gentleness and endurance, all show
you what I mean by VELVET IN ARMOUR,

GENTLENESS CASED IN ENDURANCE ?"



BLIND AMOS. 123



XL
&ak* Cart of %

"VERY often/' said Amos, "when I have
been on the water in a boat, I have heard, as
you may have heard, the man at the oar say
to the man steering, 'Mind your helm. 1 On
board ships and steamboats, you often see the
inscription up, 'Passengers not allowed to
talk to the man at the helm.' So much de-
pends on steady and careful steering. A care-
less helmsman might very soon lose a ship ;
and I remember once being on a river in a
rough wind : we got into a great difficulty
and dilemma through a little carelessness in
steering. We got the boat aground; and how
long we had to wait, and to wait in very un-
pleasant circumstances, because the foolish
man did not take care of his helm ! And yet
the helm seems the most easily managed of
any part of the vessel. One is inclined to



124 BLIND AMOS.

say, 'Well, if a man fail there, it is perfect
carelessness, and nothing short of it.' He has
not to do so much ; it is no toilsome work,
but needs the attentive, diligent eye. It needs
the silent tongue. Sometimes more and some-
times less exertion is needed, but what is
especially needed is care. And in rough seas
or calm rivers, as the dangerous rock may
lurk or the shallow spread below, the good
sailor will keep 'his weather-eye open, and
'mind his helm. 1

"We are all sailors," said Amos, "and all
the success of the voyage depends on our
taking care of the helm. I have known many
a ship lost by the helmsman. I knew one
especially : it had gone many a voyage, but it
had always met with some disaster, and always
through the helmsman. The vessel had always
been light and well rigged, sails all complete
and stout, flags and pennants flying. Away
she went before the breeze. But she had not
been at sea long before a spark from the
helmsman set a sail on fire ; the ship was in
flames very soon. To be sure, she was saved,
but had to put in again to harbour to be re-
fitted and re-rigged. Well, away she went
again, and this time all went very well till the



BLIND AMOS. 125

helmsman, a stupid fellow, drove her right
among some rocks : there she lay aground for
a long time, but again she was saved, and once
more was sea-worthy. But again she was
coasting, and was run by the helmsman right
upon some icebergs, and there she might have
been lost, and was saved by no arrangement
of her own, but by a friendly hand from a
neighbouring ship. Lost three times by the
same helmsman ! Take care of the tongue. It
is the helmsman of the soul.

11 A word from the tongue will set all the
passions in a blaze ; a word from the tongue
will wreck a craft among the rocks of thought-
lessness ; a word from the tongue will dash
the human vessel among the icebergs of un-
kindness. The tongue is the helm ; take care
of the tongue. ' Whoso offendeth not in word,
the same is a perfect man.' When we advance
a little into life, we find that the tongue of man
creates nearly all the mischief of the world.
The man who is able to command his tongue
is able to command his whole body, and is able
to command other people too.

" Is it not wonderful to notice that so largo
a number of proverbs of all nations should be
about the tongue ? It shows how much atten-



126 BLIND AMOS.

tion it has needed. It is of no use to be soft
and kind and gentle in disposition, and gene-
rous in pocket, and firm and powerful in cha-
racter, if you cannot control your tongue. A
man's tongue makes him or unmakes him far
more than he thinks; and, indeed, it repre-
sents and reveals the man. 'By iky words
thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou
shalt be condemned; 1 for every word, you
know, is an action, and none the less because
its deeds cannot always be clearly seen.

" In a word, if you would walk upon velvet,
take care of your tongue. Many a man finds
fault with his hard path who has spit stones
from his own teeth. Let a man be born
among roses, a foolish tongue may turn them
all into nettles. Rue and thyme both grow in
one garden. A good tongue is a good weapon.
Fair words break no bones, but foul ones
many a one. Good words cool more than cold
water. To cast oil in the fire is not the way
to quench it. Take care of the first words.
The beginning of strife is as when one letteth
out water. Evil words beget evil words, till at
last they come to generations.

"Oh, the tongue ! the tongue ! the tongue !
What shall be done unto thee, thou false



BLIND AMOS. 127

tongue ? Hollowness and deceit are as bad as
slander, or railing, or worse. Some tongues
are always on the look-out for an equivoca-
tion ; they cannot give a direct or plain an-
swer. Their owners do not so much use them,
as fence with them, and play off on their
neighbour an ingenious double-dealing in
words. All the words of such people are like
pieces of money: they have two sides, and
one is as good as the other, ,and neither good
for much, for it is all brass or copper coin.
Whenever they give you a reply, you can
almost always hear the words chuckling in
their throat, to think how shrewdly they have
imposed on you. To such persons a yea is
never yea, nor is a nay, nay. Learn to hate
all two-faced words. Life has been said by
some people to be like the waterman's craft,
'Bowing one way and looking another.' That
is very well, for we have not only to act for
the present moment, but to look right ahead
into the future. But we must not say one
thing and mean another ; it is our using too
many words which makes us insincere. If we
thought before we spoke, we should often live
nearer to honesty.

" Take care of the helm. Every helm may
11*



128 BLIND AMOS.

be steered to the right or to the left. The two
things constantly to be borne in mind in the
government of the tongue are kindness and
sincerity- Virtues carried to extremes become
vices. If you are too gentle, soft and yield-
ing with the tongue, there is danger of insin-
cerity; if too vehement, too rapid, forcible,
inconsiderate, you become unkind. There is
a golden mean, if we can find it, so that the
tongue may become a temple of purity and
meekness, of love and truth.

" I am sure that the tongue does more to
keep the world in turmoil than the sword. I
am sure we shall never tread on velvet till
people look after their tongues. Of course,
control the tongue as we may, still there will
be many vices left behind ; but a busy tongue
is the parent of much mischief. You remem-
ber Lizzy Morris, as innocent and pure and
beautiful a girl as any in our village. Why
was she obliged to leave? Because Mrs. Scud-
der, the dirty charwoman, began rolling some
senseless story through the village. How was
it that Fanny Burgess could find no work to
support herself or her mother? Because
some unkind tongues began repeating the old,
worn-out story against her. How was it that



BLIND AMOS. 129

Nicholson, the carpenter, lost his work ? Be-
cause some busybody told his master that he
had been soliciting work elsewhere ; and the
falsehood was not found out until the poor
fellow had gone away to find work two hun-
dred miles off. What keeps scores of people
constantly by the ears ? Why, some two or
three venomous old news-mongers, who go
about, like industrious old apostles of mis-
chief, from house to house. I have often
thought, when I have heard of a strait-
waistcoat for lunatics, and a lunatic asylum,
what a glorious thing it would be if there were
a tongue asylum, and some sort of restraint
for that most mischievous little piece of red
machinery. If a man runs out of his house
and breaks a window, he is put into an asylum,
and watch and ward kept over him ; but if an
old gentleman or lady of the best intentions
invites a few neighbours to tea, and proceeds
to tear in pieces half the characters in the
neighbourhood, or if they go from house to
house deliberately to exercise their gifts and
graces of malice in throwing poor men out
of work, or whispering suspicions into the
ears of the unsuspicious, or breathing a blight
upon fair names, it is all thought to be right



130 BLIND AMOS.

and natural and innocent enough. We have
lunatic asylums, asylums for the deaf, for con-
sumptives, for the eyes, for the ears ; but I
have groaned for some hospital for diseased
tongues, tongues that are troubled with per-
petual and mischievous motion. What a bene-
factor to his race would he be who should
found such a hospital and keep it full !

" Take care of your tongue. Never mind
anybody else's tongue. Let others take care
of their' s t you take care of your's. I say this
because most people are more anxious about
their neighbours' tongues than about their
own. You take care of your hands and your
face : why not take care of your tongue ? You
don't trouble yourself much with your neigh-
bours' hands or faces : let their tongues alone
too. And if you find (as probably you will)
that they do not attend to the health of their's,
and they meddle with the tongues of other
people, that will only be another argument
why you should devote more attention to
your's. Take care of your tongue : you have but
one tongue to take care of: two feet, two eyes,
two hands, even nostrils, a double pair of nerves
lam told, but only one tongue, and that is the
cause of as much trouble to everybody as an



BLIND AMOS. 131

unbroken colt. Take care that your tongue
does not become your master : make it your
servant. Take care that it does not turn
coward. Teach it when to speak, what to
speak, and how to speak. 'Life and death are
in the power of our tongue.' 'Blessing and
cursing are in the power of the tongue. 1 Pure
fountains and black pools, and the will and
the mind preside over all. Take care of your
tongue !

"How blessed is the privilege of those dear
ones who live so near to the Lord, that, when
the breath of injurious slander has gone over
them, they can sit still, or pay back the false
coin of the world's unkindness with wqrds of
gentleness and love ! 'Of such is the kingdom
of heaven.' And why may not this be ? The
wind that shakes the rose only diffuses its
fragrance. The insect that crawls upon its
beautiful leaves may seem to impair it, but a
shower washes the insect away, and leaves the
rose a rose still. And is it not very sweet to
know that the loving heart has a fountain of
sweetness in itself, which the winds of unkind-
ness cannot shake, nor the showers and storms
of slander wash away? 'God avenges his own
elect, 1 and every slight practised on them will



132 BLIND AMOS.

be found, in the long run, to have been prac-
tised on him. For, through all time, beauti-
ful things are beautiful things, and evil things
are evil things.

" A violet and a nettle were growing on the
same bank one spring day, when the sun was
shining very brightly and some of the sweetest
breezes were abroad. The violet was rather
out of sight, but the nettle had seen her many
times, though he had never before spoken to
her. 'Good-morning, ma'am/ said he. 'Good-
morning, Mr. Nettle,' sweetly replied the violet.
'I wouldn't give much for your chance if we
have many such days as this. There will be
some walkers-out who will be wending their
way up here, and you will have a short time :
you may take my word for it.' So impu-
dently spoke the nettle, like a great coarse
thing as he was. 'Alas!' said the violet, 'it
may be so, but I hope not : I would rather
stay here a little while longer and enjoy the
sunshine and breeze.' 'Ah, my lady,' said
the nettle, 'you see that's just the way the
world treats you, poor things, while it respects
me. Catch them gathering me ! no, no ; they
know a trick worth two of that. If they
touch me I give them something to remem-



BLIND AMOS. 133

ber. And if you had a good sharp sting or
two they'd let you be where you are, I'll be
bound.'

" 'Perhaps so/ said the violet, 'and yet I'd
rather be as I am, without the sting ; for, you
see, if they gather me, it's because they love me;
and if they let you alone, it's not because
they love you so much. I do not want to be
taken away from the pleasant hedge ; but they
will perhaps gather me to carry me to some
sick-room, or a lover will give me as a pre-
sent to his mistress, and she will prize me,
and make me a book-mark, where, perhaps,
I may stay for generations, to be looked at by
her grandchildren. They'll never treat you
with so much respect, Mr. Nettle. And if I
were gathered you would be sorry : you would
not be able to talk to Tom Dockleaf as you do
to me ; and you know you dearly like to smell
my breath. I do not wish to be impudent,
but I know that you are all the sweeter for
being in my neighbourhood, and you know it
too ; don't you, Mr. Nettle ?'

"He had no time to reply, for a labourer
came by with a scythe and cut down Mr.
Nettle and Tom Dockleaf too; and the poor



134



BLIND AMOS.



violet was left in safety to herself in the beau-
tiful light and cool breath of heaven alone.
' Yes/ said she to herself, ( if they injure us, it
is better to feel that we have neither the dispo-
sition nor the power to injure them.'




BLIND AMOS. 135



XII.



"I ONCE read a story that in a period of
which I shall leave you to guess, and in a part
of the world which I shall leave you to find
out, there lived a benevolent giant. He was a
most wonderful being. I cannot tell you what
he had not attempted to do; and he was so
powerful that there were very few things he
attempted which he did not perform. He took
delight in doing good to other people, but he
seldom thought of doing any good for himself
in particular. For instance : he lived himself
in a very poor little cottage, so low that he
tall fellow that he was could scarcely put his
head into it. But only a few steps from his
cottage he built beautiful palaces for people to
live in who could not build a house for them-

selves ; and he laid out gardens and planted
12



136 BLIND AMOS.

trees; and he made bricks, and he hewed
stones, and he carved marble, and whatever
he wanted he used to get, for he had a won-
der-working hammer, and when he wanted
any thing he used to rap on the ground with
his hammer, and instantly the ground opened
and hundreds of little fairy creatures came
and laid what he demanded at his feet ! If
he wanted iron, he gave a knock, and the
creatures came out of the fiery furnace and
brought bar after bar. If he wanted gold, he
gave a knock, and they came again and brought
nugget after nugget. And it was just the
same if he wanted coals, or copper, or lead ;
and at last, whenever any thing was wanted,
the people of the country said, ' Well, we must
go and ask the good giant;' and ten to one but
he gave it to them. He never cared about
having the things he made himself. But with
his loud laughter he shook the hills about
him, and the people ceased to fear the good
giant ; and some, finding that he did not think
of himself, began to treat him very badly ; but
still the good giant laughed Ho ! ho ! ho ! ho !
and so long as he saw his merry miners at
work, and knew that his palaces were build-
ing, and his looms going, and his silk and



BLIND AMOS. 137

cloth and cotton spinning, he did not care for
much beside. I wonder if you can tell me the
name of the good giant ?

"Well, I could really spin out quite a long
story about him, but I am not going to do so.
I am only going to tell you of three pairs of
velvet gloves the good giant kept constantly
by him. When people stole his property, as
they did very often, when those weak little


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