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mark and characteristic sign of all the varieties, turn to whichever we may for our illustrations.
Among the varieties of folly there are especially four. First, it it is the mark of a fool to love mischief, to talk it, and to do it. “ He flings about firebrands, arrows, and death, and says “ I am only in sport.'” He talks mischief—“ It is as a sport to a fool to do mischief, but a man of understanding hath wisdom.” It is not of much use saying to a fool “ Buy a bridle, buy a bridle,” when the tongue is wagging dangerously, for the tongue is very little under the control of the character; fools are not accustomed to think, and again says the proverb,“ therefore a prating fool shall fall.” But indeed nothing much more distinctly marks the empty character than the incessant clatter of the tongue, and where the tongue incessantly talks it is inevitable that it should talk much mischief, and surely it may be reckoned as among mysterious things that there are those on whom there seems laid the burden of everlasting chattering. That eminent character, Mrs. Poyser, wisely says “There are persons like clocks which will keep on striking, not because they strike right, but because they have something the matter with their insides.” There is another mark of a foolobstinacy. “ The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he that hearkeneth to counsel is wise." Another mark of want of consideration—the fool is usually unable to take advice. It is a curious thing to travel through life in company with a fool; it is as awkward a piece of work as driving a pig or calf to market. He is an utterly unreasonable creature. We have most of us talked with such persons—men into whose minds it would be as impossible to project any light foreign to their own nature as to shoot a star into a cave. It is so with the man of whom it is said “ There is a way which seemeth right to him, but it leadeth to death,” and again, “ The way to Babylon will never bring you to Jerusalem," but the man who is on his way to Babylon very seldom supposes himself to be at all in the wrong. Truly, as we find ourselves in company with the obstinate man, we realise the proverb, “ Some are wise and some are otherwise ;” and “He who follows his own advice must take the consequences.” And the Spanish proverb says, “ It is fools and obstinate people who make lawyers rich.” “ By others' faults wise men correct their own,” but a fool is faultless in his own eyes. Very astonishing, too, the wise oracularity of these self-contained obstinates, but they only remind us that “ An ass is a very grave beast, and an owl is a very grave bird.” Shakespeare hits this character in some of his wise words :
“ There are a sort of men whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond;
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;
And again in words which occur very near to those we have just quoted :-“ Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice; his reasons are two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff; you shall seek all day ere you shall find them; and when you have them they are not worth the search.”
“ The hermit thinks the sun shines nowhere but in his own cell," and the mind shut up in itself can imagine no light outside itself. “ You only have one fault,” says an old proverb, "you are good for nothing." And in this way may very frequently be summed up the folly of the obstinate man. A fool may be known by a third mark —anger, unreasonable anger. “ The fool rageth and is confident." “A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty ; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both ;” and the proverb seems to be spoken of that especially foolish thing, envy, “ Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous ; but who is able to stand before envy ?” The fool injures without provocation, and he knows not how to forgive ; his anger is cruel. What things have we seen Christian men, or so-called Christian men, do? What unseasonable anger have we seen them indulge ? It is a singular circumstance, and I have often so noticed it in life, that men always hate those they injure; no man do we need to be so much upon our guard against as the man who has injured us. We need not fear so much the man we have injured, if such there be ; but rare are the instances of those who themselves have injured, who do not seek to justify their original injustice by some new act of cruelty.
And there is one other mark, “ Every fool will be meddling"meddling everywhere, with everything, with everybody. Who does not know that terrible character in a village or a neighbourhood, “ the leisurely man who has nothing to do," the gentleman who is always stepping in, hither and thither, to see how things go on, and who manages, even more than professed gossips and scandalmongers, to create disturbances, because he is always in his bungling, blundering, mischief-making meddling attempting to put things to rights? Sometimes such a one wakes up astonished to find what a world of mischief he has made. “He that passeth by and meddleth with strife that belongeth not to him is like one that pulleth a dog by the ears ;” and two things follow from that—first, the barking will generally be in proportion to the pulling; and next the puller may possibly stand a chance of getting the worst of it if Mr. Barker turns round sharp upon him. There are men and women who live in the perpetual excitement of meddling and interfering; they cannot be still, they avail themselves of and invent ingenious subterfuges, in order that they may play off little experimental tricks of excitement. They are fools; they have no interest in their own thoughts, little acquaintance have they with books, but they have a kind of itch of excitement. They must be doing. They probably, by some mysterious oversight of Providence, as one might almost think, have very little care or trouble on their own account, and so they compensate for it by creating as much care and trouble as possible among their neighbours. Give them a hint and they get up a tragedy or a comedy. How thankful they are if you accept their proffered circumstances, and yet they are a kind of nuisance in the neighbourhood.
Of all creatures to be avoided, perhaps this nervous meddling fool is the worst of all ; Lyman Beecher says on one occasion he was riding home one evening with a heavy folio he had just borrowed under his arm; he saw what he supposed to be a rabbit run across the path, and stop by the road side; it was moonlight, and he could not see very distinctly, but he thought to himself, “ I'll have a shot at you any how." He came alongside the supposed rabbit, poised his ponderous folio, and hurled it at the supposed mark, but received in return a point-blank shot of an unmistakable character, which required him to bury his clothes, folio, and everything about him in the earth, in order to become presentable. Some years after he was asked why he did not reply to a certain writer who had been abusing him through the press; he said, “1 threw a book at a skunk once, and he had the best of it, and I made up my mind never to try it again.” The determination was wise. The four characters we have concisely described are all to be avoided; no profit can come from intercourse with either, but of the four the last is the most dangerous, and the aromatic influence of his character the most pernicious and abiding.
But there is no more remarkable or general characteristic of your true man of Gotham than his constant supposition that he is somebody else than he really is. “ IPhat good does it do an ass to be called a lion ?" And yet vanity never inquires whether it deserves the fine feathers or robes, and gilded trappings, in which it desires to adorn itself. People love to be in great places ; indeed it is very remarkable, when we think of it, that any man should think himself well fitted to wear the insignia of highly honourable offices, offices which suppose the possessor to have more than the ordinary wisdom of men. " Regard not yourself in a mirror by the light of a torch.” Men see themselves as shone upon by certain ideas they have of their own importance, yet one would think that every man too must have an assuring sense of his own demerits. If a man has a reputation for learning, and he knows that he is only ignorant; if he have received diplomas, or purchased them, and he
tance, yet of his own dat he is only in the
knows himself to be only a dunce, what good can his diplomas confer on him ? What is the worth of any profession without practice? There was a poor shepherd in Germany who saw a great Prince and Cardinal, who was also Bishop of Cologne; but the Bishop was not a good man, an ambitious, cruel, and exacting one; “But then, you see," said the person to whom the shepherd was talking, “he must be like a Prince, for he is a Prince.” “Oh, but," said the shepherd, “if the great Prince is damned for his pride and wickedness, what will become of the humble Bishop?”.
An old writer says, “In Scripture there are names proper and names appellative, names nominal and names real, but it is the real name that makes a good construction in God's grammar." Many a King Louis, or King Philip, or King Charles, and crowds of other names, have with the designation of king possessed no kingly attributes. King was altogether a misnomer, and merely nominal, they come down to immortality with no appellative of good or great. The name and the character do not correspond, for names are not magical now, and cannot impart a quality. If we were to call the essence of asafoetida, rose-water we should not like the smell any better ; while, as we know, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Many of the great characters of the Bible have their name significative and characteristic or appellative. Abraham is a name, but the “Father of the Faithful” is better. Moses is a good name, but “the Servant of God” is better. David is a good name, but “ the man after God's own heart” is better. John is a good name, but “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is better. Paul was a good name, but it was much higher to be called “a chosen vessel of the Lord.” Goodness and greatness are not tied to any names. There have been very learned men who have been quite unknown to literary honours, and very brave men who had no distinguished place in the army. On the other hand, there have been captains who have been cowards, and doctors who have been dunces. There is a fine string of names all signifying the gift of God. Theodorus, Theodosius, Theodatus, Adeodatus, Dorotheus, Deodatus—these were all very fine designations; but the gift of God has not been confined, we very well know, to such glowing Greek words. And the grace and gifts of God have sometimes gone, we know, with those who are to us nameless. As Sir Thomas Browne says, “To be nameless in worthy deeds exceeds an infamous history; for who would not rather be the Canaanitish woman than Herodias, or the good thief than Pilate ? "
It has been said in an old proverb, “ A donkey with a pair of golden panniers on its back is but a donkey still.” Erasmus, in his “ Colloques," tells a story of his meeting with some swaggering person who had hanging from his girdle on one side a New Testament richly gilt and embossed, and on the other side a bottle of rich wine. He very frequently applied himself to the last, but Erasmus testifies that he never saw him refer to the first until one day, in a fit of rage disputing with some adversary, he seized upon his Bible, and used it quarter-staff fashion to break his adversary's head; so possible it is to have the Bible in the hand, and little of its doctrine in the heart. Hence, also, that other proverb has some likeness to that we have quoted above, “ He hath got the fiddle, but not the fiddlestick.” But it is not the possession of the finest Stradivarius can make an accomplished violinist; a man may have an immense library, but not even know how to refer to the various volumes in it. Queer stories have been told of this type of character of the lady who quarrelled with the upholsterer who sent home to her house two globes, which she said were not a pair because they were not both alike-of the man who affected to read Hebrew, and in purchasing a Hebrew Bible told the bookseller it was imperfect, wanting the first pages, not being aware that Hebrew books began at what we should call the end; and of many a clown desirous of having it supposed he could read in church who used his hymn. book or psalter turned upside down. We have heard a story of a man who went into an optician's shop to purchase a pair of spectacles, as he said, to help him to read, and he tried, but without effect, every pair of glasses in the optician's shop, and still he said he could not read. “I don't believe you know how to read a word,” said the optician, irritated with his customer. “ Of course I don't," said the man, " that's what I want a pair of spectacles for." He had quite mistaken the use of glasses and lenses, and indeed it's not the telescope that makes the astronomer; therefore, says another proverb, “ A windmill is a very pretty contrivance, but it is of no use without wind.”
A friend of mine, a very well-known preacher, stepped into a railway-carriage in the North of England; a fellow-traveller said to him, “I heard you preach here yesterday morning.” “Yes,” said my friend; “were you not at the church in the evening ?” " Whoy noa, I ha'a-getten into a way, I ne'er goes out o' neets.” “Why, how is that?" said my friend. “Well, I'll tell 'ee ; our minister's a real, reet-down moof.” “Ah!” said my friend. "Well, what do you mean by a 'moof'?” “Well,” said the stranger, “I can only say a moof is a moof; but now I'll tell 'ee what I liken un too. When I were a boy, up among they hills yonder, in our village there were a mill; it war a water-mill. Well, thou sees, it never went on a Sunday, because it were stopped; but I recollect one Sunday going along by the side on it, and somehow something had getten loose, and the wheels were going on clatter, clatter, clatter, clatter; bless ye, it worn't grinding anything, but there it were going on as pert as possible,