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The Professor

Chapter 19
NOVELISTS should never allow themselves to weary of the study of real life. If
they observed this duty conscientiously, they would give us fewer pictures
chequered with vivid contrasts of light and shade; they would seldom elevate
their heroes and heroines to the heights of rapture--still seldomer sink them to
the depths of despair; for if we rarely taste the fulness of joy in this life, we yet
more rarely savour the acrid bitterness of hopeless anguish; unless, indeed, we
have plunged like beasts into sensual indulgence, abused, strained, stimulated,
again overstrained, and, at last, destroyed our faculties for enjoyment; then, truly,
we may find ourselves without support, robbed of hope. Our agony is great, and
how can it end? We have broken the spring of our powers; life must be all
suffering--too feeble to conceive faith--death must be darkness--God, spirits,
religion can have no place in our collapsed minds, where linger only hideous and
polluting recollections of vice; and time brings us on to the brink of the grave, and
dissolution flings us in--a rag eaten through and through with disease, wrung
together with pain, stamped into the churchyard sod by the inexorable heel of
despair.
But the man of regular life and rational mind never despairs. He loses his
property--it is a blow--he staggers a moment; then, his energies, roused by the
smart, are at work to seek a remedy; activity soon mitigates regret. Sickness
affects him; he takes patience--endures what he cannot cure. Acute pain racks
him; his writhing limbs know not where to find rest; he leans on Hope's anchors.
Death takes from him what he loves; roots up, and tears violently away the stem
round which his affections were twined--a dark, dismal time, a frightful wrench--
but some morning Religion looks into his desolate house with sunrise, and says,
that in another world, another life, he shall meet his kindred again. She speaks of
that world as a place unsullied by sin--of that life, as an era unembittered by
suffering; she mightily strengthens her consolation by connecting with it two
ideas --which mortals cannot comprehend, but on which they love to repose--
Eternity, Immortality; and the mind of the mourner, being filled with an image,
faint yet glorious, of heavenly hills all light and peace--of a spirit resting there in
bliss--of a day when his spirit shall also alight there, free and disembodied--of a
reunion perfected by love, purified from fear--he takes courage--goes out to
encounter the necessities and discharge the duties of life; and, though sadness
may never lift her burden from his mind, Hope will enable him to support it.
Well--and what suggested all this? and what is the inference to be drawn
therefrom? What suggested it, is the circumstance of my best pupil--my treasure-
-being snatched from my hands, and put away out of my reach; the inference to
be drawn from it is--that, being a steady, reasonable man, I did not allow the
resentment, disappointment, and grief, engendered in my mind by this evil
chance, to grow there to any monstrous size; nor did I allow them to monopolize
the whole space of my heart; I pent them, on the contrary, in one strait and secret
nook. In the daytime, too, when I was about my duties, I put them on the silent
 
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