was forbidden to take a pledge of a could only be levied after proving the widow. The Pentateuch prohibited a gar- debt in court as in the preceding inment only; but the Talmud again extends stances. Nor was the plaintiff-creditor the prohibition to articles of any kind; himself permitted to meddle in the matand for the following reason. If an ob- ter. The business was entirely commitject taken as security was of such a na- ted to the hands of the official appointed ture as to be required for domestic use or by the local judges. Now, whatever the was necessary for labor as a pillow or amount of the debt towards repayment of a plough - the creditor was bound during which the property in question was to be thirty days at least to allow the debtor sold, the following was imperative: the the use of one of the two whenever he person making the necessary arrangerequired it: i.e. the pillow in the evening ments for carrying out the orders of the to sleep upon, the plough in the daytime court was obliged in every case to make to work with. In the case of a man it out a list of articles necessary for the was presumed that this would cause no personal use and accommodation of the inconvenience; but where a widow was debtor and his family. The list of reconcerned, and she happened to be poor quirements legally allowed included sufand as a consequence required the pledge ficient money (or goods that would fetch she had given from time to time, the con- so much) to provide food for thirty days, stant visits of the creditor bringing the sufficient clothing to last twelve months, article would probably cause scandal, as a bed whereon to sleep, a couch whereon neighbors could scarcely be cognizant of to recline at meals (the Jews in the the nature of the business transaction later period of their nationality followed which caused the lender to come to her the Roman custom of reclining when so frequently. Hence this law was one partaking of food) a pair of sandals, of the many found in the Talmud in favor and, if engaged in any industrial occupaof women. In no case, moreover, was a tion, two of every kind of tool or imple. creditor permitted to enter a debtor's ment required for such employment. In house in order to seize a pledge there. no case, however, was the property of the If he had not taken possession of the wife assured to her by her marriage conarticle in question when he lent the tract liable for any debts contracted by money be was not even permitted to take her husband, notwithstanding that he had it from the debtor in the street. If the the usufruct of the money. Even new amount lent was not repaid as agreed clothing, if bought for wife and children, upon, the lender was required to attend was exempt from seizure. Another exbefore the local tribunal and prove the emption was also permitted. The perdebt. An officer of the court, specially sonal property and movable chattels of employed for that purpose, was then or- orphans could not be seized in respect of dered to obtain possession of the pledge debts contracted by their deceased father. in question. He was not, however, suf- Only, his real estate, land and houses, fered to enter the borrower's house in could be realized by order of the court to order to seize it; he was bound to remain meet liabilities he had incurred prior to outside, and the article in question had to his death. Where, however, some one be handed out to him. Thirty days of special article had been pledged, or rather grace were then allowed in order to afford hypothecated, as security for money lent, the debtor time and opportunity to pro- the article named could be claimed in decure the sum necessary to repay his loan. fault of payment by the heritors of the At the expiration of that term the pledge deceased. was sold to satisfy the claim of the plain- In every case the law required proof of tiff. In the case of a loan on personal debt. The creditor was expected to bring security the same procedure was neces. either the kinyan (deed of acknowledge sary: It was, however, indispensable that ment) or two competent witnesses: alapplication should in the first instance though, as we have before explained, the have been made to the person who con- defendant in a contested case tracted the loan. Only when it had been the Biblical oath — deoraitha

-in order proved before the local court that the to clear himself of liability, or the plaindebtor himself was unable to pay could tiff might swear derabbanan, the rabbinthe guarantee be compelled to make good ical oath, in order to compel payment. the amount.

Yet the rabbins looked with suspicion In cases where money was lent without upon the alternatives named. Apart from security of any kind, an execution on that they regarded, too, the sinfulness of movable goods and personal chattels | an oath. The Ghemara constantly ad

gbt take


vises men never to lend money except court would thereupon give the creditor in the presence of witnesses, or without an order of the judges termed tirpha, receiving the legal acknowledgment of which entitled him to seize and enter indebtedness from the borrower. “He upon and ascertain all necessary particuwho lends money in the absence of wit- lars respecting the debtor's fields and nesses," says Rab Judah in the name of farms, wherever and in whatever district Rab, “trangresses the negative precept, they were situate. The extent and nature • Thou shalt not put a stumbling-block of these holdings being discovered, the before the blind;' for he tempts the bor- creditor attended before the tribunal of rower to deny the debt.” So too another the division wherein the property or any rabbi, Risch Lakisch, points out, “It particular portion thereof was comprised. causes slander;" for one party denying He handed over to the judges here the the debt compels the other to bring an act tirpha. This document the court de. action. One party has to swear, and nat- stroyed. Instead thereof they delivered urally the adherents of one side regard to him the deed designated adrachtha. those on the other as perjured. Thus This was an authorization that entitled quarrels are spread and slander is a re- him to enter upon and possess the propsult. A propos of this caution, the famous erty therein specified. It would, howRab Asche, to test bis colleague, sent to ever, frequently happen that the land Rabbina, the commentator, one Friday thus seized by the pursuer would be worth evening late, when of course all were more or perhaps less than the amount of busy, it being near to Sabbath, asking for the debt for which it was taken. In such a loan of ten zuzim, which he urgently instances the tribunal ordered the proprequired. Rabbina sent back answer, erty to be surveyed and valued by com

Bring witnesses and we will sign the petent persons. It was then divided. note of hand." Rab Asche replied, Another instrument known as schuma, “What! I bring witnesses ! Do I not deed of estimate, was thereupon drawn inspire sufficient confidence to obviate up. The previous deed of adrachtha, or the necessity of such procedure?” Rab- occupation, was now delivered up to the bina's remark thereupon was brief: “You judges, the creditor receiving in return less than anybody else! You are so in the new document, schuma. This finally tently engaged in study and so constantly entitled him to take possession of a porpreoccupied that you would easily forget tion of land, the value of which was exthe fact of your indebtedness." The actly proportioned to the amount of the opinion of the rabbins .generally anent debt unpaid. The obdurate debtor, howthe lending of money under the circum- ever, did not lose all right to reoccupy stances adverted upon is well expressed his field or farm. A tradition of the docin a pithy beraitha : Three persons there tors of the city of Nehardea - whose are who weep, and none can console them: practices and precedents are often quoted he who sets over himself a master; he in the Talmud - states that the borrower who allows himself to be ruled by his could at any time within twelve months wife; and he who lends money without regain possession of his property on paywitnesses."

ment of the amount in respect of which it Debts were chargeable against real was disposed of. One of the most emiestate, houses and land, as well as against nent of the Amoraïm, Amemar, thinks personal chattels. If the movable belong- otherwise. “I am myself of Nehardea,” ings upon which a creditor levied an exe- he says, “and I maintain that the debtor cution proved insufficient to liquidate the retains forever the right to repurchase amount unpaid, the tribunal before whom his property from those who have legally the matten.came was empowered to order seized and occupied it.” The Ghemara the sale of sufficient land to make up the itself adopts this opinion too, that an required balance. In all cases where it Israelite could always pay his debts and was necessary to seize the land belonging regain what had once before been his to a debtor the mode of procedure gen- own. Characteristically, this concession erally adopted was somewhat as follows. in favor of debtors is attached to the Assuming of course that the creditor had verses of Deuteronomy, “Thou shalt 'do applied for his money and had been re- what is just and righteous in the eyes of fused; the usual application had been the Eternal.” Poverty would in the mamade to the local tribunal to enforce pay-jority of cases be the cause of non-payment in cash; the defendant had been ment of a debt for which land had been cited, and being obdurate refused to ap- seized. And the Talmudists held that it pear — tacitly declining payment: the I was a good deed to aid, by a privilege of

From Good Words.


this kind, the man who had become poor, "she must have been pretty when she but had again risen in the world, to pos- was young:") “ That parrot, too, it is as sess his own again.

good to her almost as a child, and as troublesome.” (My friend does not be. lieve in the delightfulness of children.) “And Miss Phillis makes as much of the parrot as her sister. I wish you had seen

Miss Phillis; but she is always out of PLAIN-SPEAKING.

afternoons." PRELIMINARY.

And then I learned how, at the other It has been remarked, “ You may say end of the town, lived an old gentleman, anything, to anybody, if you only know very helpless and infirm, whom Miss how to say it." That is, with kindliness, Phillis for years had gone to see every good temper, and calm justice : free from day, spending an hour or two in reading

bumptiousness," and above all from the or talking to him. smallest suspicion of envy, malice, and

“In summer I often used to meet her all uncharitableness. Under such condi- walking beside his bath-chair. She is not tions, the act of “speaking one's mind,” at all like Miss Sarah, but very tall and usually so obnoxious, is shorn of much thin, and decidedly active for her years. of its harmfulness; and fault-finding be- This winter I hear poor Mr. White cancomes less a weapon of offence than a not go out at all, but Miss Phillis never surgeon's lancet, used not for injury, but misses a day in going to see him.”

“ Is he a relation?" Therefore, if in this or succeeding pa- “Oh, no; only a very old friend. An pers I say somewhat hard things, I beg old bachelor, too — quite solitary. People my readers to believe that it is not out of do say have said it any time these a hard heart, careless of giving pain, but thirty years that he had better have a sad heart, knowing that pain must be married Miss Phillis, and that she would given, and that if bitter truths need to be not have objected; but one never knows spoken, they are better spoken by an op- the truth of these things. They have timist than a pessimist: by a straightfor- been most steady friends, anyhow." ward Christian woman than by a cynic or Here, truly, was a chapter out of a laughing philosopher.

Cranford," or out of human life generAlso let me wholly disclaim intentional ally. Once I had myself chanced to see personalities. If there be a cap which Mr. White- a funny little old man in a fits any one, and be likes to put it on his brown Brutus wig - it was difficult to own head, and fly into a passion about it, make a sentimental hero of him. Still that is his fault, not mine. I accuse no “ I have always been rather fond of one, let people's own consciences accuse Miss Phillis,” continued my friend. “She themselves. If by looking into this silent would have made a good man's fireside glass, they see their own image, and go very bright. Perhaps Mr. White was away, not forgetting but remembering and one of those who are always missing amending, it - for our moral beauty or their chances, who cannot take the tide ugliness depends very much upon 'our-at the turn. If so, it was a pity. So selves - then this plain-speaking of mine many let happiness slip by them, and rewill be no offence, nor shall I have spoken gret it when too late. Not that I am altogether in vain.

aware of Miss Phillis's regretting any: thing. She is a very cheerful-minded woman, and is invaluable now to old Mr. White."

We were neither of us in a moralizing " There is a tide in the affairs of men

mood, being also cheerful minded women, Which, taken at the turn, leads on to fortune."

and bent on enjoying as much as possible “ Why, this is like a bit out of 'Cran- our brief winter holiday -“gentle but ford,'?

?" said I to a friend as we came out kindly,” like our own advancing age — so into the clear winter twilight, from a house the conversation dropped. where she had taken me to pay a call. Since, however, it has often recurred

“ Yes; Mrs. Gaskell would have made to me, in noticing how very common is a charming picture out of that cosy little this fatal peculiarity of not being able to parlor, with Miss Sarah sitting alone“ take the tide at the turn,” especially in there, so round and fat and comfortable-love-affairs. That of Miss Phillis and looking.” (“Pretty, too,” interposed I; Mr. White may never have existed at all,


[ocr errors]





[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a mo

except in the imagination of their friends ; | a young one who was apologizing care. but I have known several other instances lessly for having kept bim waiting thus in which a little honest rashness would long. “My friend, to that quarter of an have been the best wisdom.

hour I owe everything in life !" One case especially: a young couple – Between the courage which seizes an playfellows from childhood – all their opportunity and the sanguine rashness friends agreeable to and expecting their which snatches at everything and grasps engagement, nay waiting; somewhat anx. nothing, is as wide a difference as be. iously, for the gentleman to “make up tween bravery and foolhardiness. Somehis mind” and say the final word, which times one may make a mistake. A lady from pure shyness he delayed doing. At once told me how she stood before a postlast, one Sunday the young lady was office with a letter in her hand going away on Monday — he determined mentous letter, written on the impulse of to speak during their usual evening walk the moment, and with a strong conscienhome from church. But. “I'll go tious desire to do the right — all the more to church with you to-night,” said an un- because it was painful – how twice, three conscious, well-intentioned friend. Alas! times, she seemed to feel some invisible “two is company, three is none." The hand restraining her own, how she looked proposal was not made never made. helplessly up to the silent sunset sky Three days after the lady accepted a long, then with a sort of desperation dropped persistent suitor, who yoars before had the letter into the box and repented it made up his mind — and declared it. to her dying day. Well, no hearts were broken apparently. But these difficult crises seldom hapShe married, but her old playfellow is a pen. On the whole, far more barm is bachelor still. He comes now and then done by irresolution than by precipitato see her, romps with her children, plays tion: even, as I have heard it said, and I chess with her husband, and does not agree thereto, weakness is worse than look at all miserable. But perhaps, when wickedness. At any rate, it is more danhe goes back to his handsome empty gerous. The man who never can make house, he wishes things had been a little up his mind, who lets chance after chance different.

go past him, is always a little too late for However, love, if it be the heart of life, everything, and never knows that kindly constitutes only a small portion of it ex- Fortune bas touched him till he catches ternally, to a man at least. On many the last sad sweep of her garment as she other matters besides love-matters this glides by —- forever!- the misery which inability to take the tide at the turn is this man creates, and inflicts — for it is a most fatal. How many a man owes his fallacy that any one can be nobody's whole success in life to the faculty of enemy but his own – is, in the aggrebeing able to see the golden moment and gate, much greater than that caused by catch it ere it flies! “ All things come the strong bad man. Him we recognize alike to all.” That is (with very rare at once, and against him we can protect exceptions), every man has a certain num- ourselves a little ; against the other we ber of chances — the distinction between never can. Our very pity takes up arms success and failure is that one grasps against our judgment. For, alas! we them, another lets them slip by. An un- know the certain end. answered letter, an appointment broken,

He that will not when he may, a train missed, may for all we know

When he would he shall have nay. change the color of our whole existence. All the more because we do not know; Only for a single hopeful minute is the until, looking back, we see upon what tide on the turn; when once it has turned, trivial things mere accidents appar- it has turned forever, and ently — hinged the most important events

Leaves him at eve on the bleak shore alone. of our lives. A situation applied for at once, and gained "just at the nick of All thorough business men and women time;

a first invita accepted, not for women require to be good “men of neglected; a business letter answered business ” too in this our day. — know without delay; an appointment kept, with that the aptitude for seeing the right motrouble and pains, yet still kept: these ment to do a thing, and doing it, without small things have many a time proved the rashness, but also without delay, is a vital keystone of the arch on which a young necessity of success success in anyman has built his fortunes. Only a thing. He who puts off till to-morrow quarter of an hour !” said an old man to what can be done ---or ought to be done

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

- to-day, is most hopeless as a clerk, a or next week, but to-day, which alone is servant, or in any position where regular, our real property and also (the one faculty systematic work is required. More fatal involves the other) of doing resolutely still is such a quality in a master or mis- each day's work within the day, is one of tress - for the real heart of a family is the greatest blessings that can fall to the almost always the mistress. If she can- lot of any human being. Let us, who are not“ take the tide at the turn,” judge the parents, try by all conceivable means to fittest moment for domestic decisions of secure it to our children. all kinds, and carry them out, woe betide For the young can learn ; the old selher! There may be no actual shipwreck, dom can. “Redeeming the time because but her household barque will be a very the days are evil” is very difficult when helpless, helmless vessel at best.

the days have become “evil;” when the This habit of dilatoriness and indecis- glow has gone out of life, and instead of ion is so much of it mere habit that chil- the rosy flush of hope the grey twilight of dren cannot be too early taught, first the endurance settles over all things; when necessity of making up one's mind, and we smile at "taking the tide at the turn,” then of acting upon it. The trick of knowing that no more tides will ever turn, “hanging about,” of wasting minute after for us at least; but they may for our chilminute, hour after hour, in work as in dren. play- for idlers never even play consci- Let us teach them, whether or not we entiously - is often acquired in mere have learnt it ourselves, “ Whatsoever thy infancy, and too often, alas! in imitation hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” of elders and betters, never to be got rid And do it at the time. Not "to-morrow, of to the end of life. What is in the boy or the day after, or “by-and-by when I am or girl pure carelessness, becomes in the in the mood for it,” but at once, at the man and woman a confirmed peculiarity, moment when it presents itself to be done. which haunts them like a curse, causing For the tide will turn, and you never know no end of misery to themselves and all the moment of its turning. Be first clearbelonging to them.

sighted, cautious, prudent, and then be For we know our gains and achieve- decided. Make up your mind; but havments; our losses, our failures, we never ing made it up, act upon it. Do not fully know. But we may dimly guess at them, by our despair over some applica

linger shivering on the brink,

And fear to launch away, tion thrown aside and neglected, till the lost chance of benefiting ourselves or our but take the tide at the turn; plunge neighbor can never be recalled; our re- boldly in; do your best, and trust the rest. morse over an unanswered letter, when There is an old English verse, part of a the writer has suddenly gone whither no love-poem, I think, but it applies to many kindly word can reach him any more; our another crisis in life besides love regret over cordial visits left unpaid, and

He either fears his fate too much pleasant meetings unvalued, till friend

Or his deserts are small, ship, worn out, dies a natural death, or

Who dare not put it to the touch, burns itself to ashes like a fire without

To win or lose it all. fresh coals. Then we may lay the blame on Providence, luck, circumstances; any- And without defending either folly, thing or anybody except the true sinners, recklessness, or rashness, I think we may ourselves — but it is too late.

safely say that the man who dare "put it "We cannot help it,” we plead, and to the touch " is the man most likely to after a certain time we really cannot help prosper through having taken “the turn it. There is a disease called paralysis of of the tide.” the will, an actual physical disease, though THE AUTHOR OF JOHN HALIFAX, its results are moral, and every one who

GENTLEMAN." cultivates, or rather does not strive with all his might to eradicate, the habit of indecision, lays himself open thereto. A baby even a dumb infant who knows its own mind," and stretches out the little

From The Pall Mall Gazette.

THE HEIRS OF A POOR MONK. impetuous hand, quite certain whether it is the doll or the wagon which it wants to The British consul-general at Constanplay with, and eager to snatch it, without tinople has lately pronounced judgmentin wasting a minute - is a personage not to a case as extraordinary in its details as it be despised but encouraged. The gift of is interesting from an international and being able to enjoy to-day, not to-morrow | legal point of view. The question in dis

[ocr errors]

« VorigeDoorgaan »