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and the channels open between the cotton-fields of the South and the cotton-mills of Lancashire, or between the great wool-fields of Australia and the woolen-mills of West-Yorkshire, the curates in the great parish churches of Leeds and Manchester are distracted, at the holidays, by the rush of weddings. I have seen, I suppose, forty couples wedded by a sort of wholesale process, in the parish church in Leeds, and it was a very curious and pleasant sight to see. And there is a legend of a clergyman in what is now the cathedral church of Manchester, who had so many weddings on Easter Sunday-was, in fact, so hurried and badgered by weddings — that when he had married one great company in exceeding haste, after a little while a number came filing back, with very blank faces, and said, “Please, sir, wee'm gotten 't
lasses. We were wed standin' all abaut”; to which the old gentleman replied, with great asperity, “I can not help that. You should have sorted yourselves before you came; now you must sort yourselves as you go home.” If the curates in Manchester had to depend on weddings this year, they must starve.
There is a vital relation between Louisiana and Lancashire, that fixes the wedding-day, and, alas ! unfixes it again, for the slave. So the great laws of life, far beyond our sight, touch us all. The reason why you waited for this day touches all reason and all life and all truth. The Irishman borrows half-a-crown, and trots away bare-footed with Bridget to the priest. The Scotchman has half-a-crown left when he has paid the minister and furnished the cottage. The Irishman cries out for the oppression of the Saxon. I will not try to defend the Saxon; there is no defense. I can only say that the Saxon tried the same thing in Scotland, with no sort of success; and I believe the reason lies some where back of those two half-crowns. The one man regarded the whispers of this universe as they were heard in his most local life. The other regarded only the impulsive affection of the moment. The consequence was, that his misery bred in and in; the great wheels of poverty ground him down into the dust more heavily in every generation, until, at the last, the Infinite mercy blocked them by the potato-rot, and started him anew. That Divine, Intelligent Will, in some way, has set the day for you, if this is a true wedding. For this human will, as all reverent religions teach us, is only and for ever sure as it reaches into the Divine Will.
“ There are two kinds of strength
One the strength of the river,
If the sea miss the river, what matter? the sea.
Then, if this is a true wedding, it touches other beautiful and farreaching principles. It is not only true that the man and woman are made in some sacred way one, but in the truest weddings they are most perfectly one by very contrast. As the day and the night make the day, and the summer and winter the year, so in the truest wedded life will the man and woman often differ; and I stand in the presence of most holy mysteries of order, as I look up from my prayer and see that those happy eyes are in the woman a clear, lustrous brown, and in the man light up a pleasant gray. The sun-fire and rain-water nurture the plant, and both come down from above. I would decide the question of race on the inductive principle, and say, Certainly we do not all spring from one primitive pair; else were the ducts and channels of life corrupted at the very fountain, and the result, at the first remove, not only a hideous social sin, at the sight of which we ought to blush and hide our faces for shame, but a result entailing misery and ruin to the race, in the same way, only so much worse, that we observe in the children where the streams of life, however sweet when they came from the common fountain two or three generations ago, are united again, and too soon, before the Divine power had time to set the fine edge of a perfect contrast in the most secret and sacred recesses of the life. This is the second secret of this true wedding, then— the reason for those eyes of brown and gray, or that while the husband is a line below the full stature of a man, the wife is a line above the fair stature of a woman.
The old Black Douglas, Douglas the Hard, Douglas the Grim, Douglas Bell-the-Cat, were all of the line that produced the · Douglas, Douglas, tender and true' of the ballad. The great English houses that reach back furthest are those that, to the utter woe and shame of aunts and heralds, have now and again heard the whisper in their nature that bid the eldest-born come down out of his castle, and wed some sweet, fair Grisilda of the cottage. That great line of David, out of which, in due time, Christ came, sprang equally from Hebrew Boaz and from Moabitish Ruth. Now, I do not know how you came by this revelation of your love. Locally, it may have been entirely plain, clear, and commonplace; but that local reason touches some vaster reason. All good mothers are great match-makers — the good mother Nature the greatest of all. Far beyond all that we see, are those great balancings of life that for
unnumbered centuries have kept the dwarf and giant at the premium of the raree-show, and made fair, average, moderately handsome men and women the nursing fathers and mothers of the world.
And, then, those hints of stature and color — these visible contrasts of the outer wedded life—are but shadows again of the inner contrasts that make true harmony for the soul. If this be a true wedding, it is probable that it is a wedding of a restless vivacity with a true serenity; of a soul that reaches easily into the future with a soul that holds hard to the present; of a generous giver with an undoubted saver; of a poetic soul and a soul mostly prose; of Shakspeare and Ann Hathaway, Burds and Connie Jean, Mary the Madonna and Joseph the Carpenter, John Peeryhingle and Little Dot. God has two purposes in this: first, to blend these two natures so that they make one large life; second, that a new world may be created in their children. The mould in which the soul of the child is cast is the blended soul of the woman and the man. Just as nature cares for the average in the form, God seems to care for the average in the spirit. He will not have your children all earthy or all heavenly; the nerve quiver at the slightest touch, or be impassive to the keenest stab. To look at a dollar as if it were a penny, or as if it were a pound; to be all poetry, or all prose, is not the Divine intention. Oh! how many lives have been embittered, or utterly ruined, for want of faith in this great purpose of God! They shall look on the world, and see divinest purposes wrought out by diversity. They shall look on the outer form of their own life, and still see the mystic like in difference'. Then they shall come to this highest of all things — the mutual human soul — and chafe and wonder at the divine diversity there. The man shall dislike the spiritualism of the woman, and the woman deplore the reasoning tendencies of the man; the one fret over this impulsive vivacity, the other over that impassive serenity; fall out because the one is nomadic, and the other is domestic; grow sharp because one does not know the worth of a dollar, and because the other knows it too well; wonder why respectively they can be Liberal and Orthodox. Will they not see that there is a vastly deeper purpose in this than their mutual waveless felicity?
That as by earth and sea, and day and night, and all balancing of antagonisms, God for ever works out blessing, and is most blessed of all in this, so not because you love each other, shall you what you call bear this difference in your blended life; but because this may be the most sacred of all amalgams, the perfect success of the divine Chemist, the very elixir of life to you and to your children, you shall live in perfect accord, self-reverent and reverencing each other'. Now let
me give you a hint, and then I will let you go. There is a wedding holy and unutterably touching, never entered on our books; unknown to the law, yet sacred before God as the marriage of Joseph and Mary. There is a story, among the records of the common life iu England, of a miner who went down into the coal-pit one morning, failed to come up in the evening, por could a trace of him be found; he had died in some remote corner, of the damp, and was lost. Forty years after, some miners, working the pit, found a human body, and brought it to the surface. By some such process as arsenic is said to effect, the poison of which the man died had preserved the frail form, so that, for an hour after he was brought back to the world, he lay like a strong man asleep. But no one knew him; the very memory of the fatal morning forty years ago had utterly faded away. Before he began to fall back to the dust that had waited so long, an old and feeble woman came to the pit-mouth, attracted by the crowd. She instantly knelt down beside the poor shadow, and lifted up her voice and wept. She knew the face. It was fresher to her than the face she had seen yesterday. This dead man was the lover of her lost youth. On the next day they were to be wedded. That next day never came. All the world had forgotten it, save this one woman.
Her life passed away; death drew near; but when the time drew near that she must die, for one hour the face that she had loved to look upon came back again, and she found the wedded one of forty years. My friends, the world is full of such weddings, that wait until the mortal shall be lost in the immortal life, and the men and women of earth shall be the angels of God. Danté and Beatrice, Petrarch and Laura, and a million more, are wedded in this celestial union of the soul. Do not smile at that old man for nursing his cold, or at that ancient maiden for nursing her cat; do not pelt them with sharp-pricking jokes, and proverbs about their solitary single life. If we did but see as they see, perhaps we should be silent and reverent. For we should be aware how a sweet, holy presence had dwelt with them, lo! these forty years, wedded as truly as you are wedded to-day, but waiting patiently for the blessed consummation, and repeating ever: “Of all that my Father has given me I have lost nothing, but he will raise it up at the last day.”
“For God above
He creates the love to reward the love;
And the loving soul he can not forsake." CHICAGO, Christmas Eve.
D'ye know the road to poverty ?
Turn in at any tavern-sign;
There 's bran-new cards and liquor fine.
And when the cash y'r pocket quits, Jist hang the wallet on y'r back,
You vagabond, see how it fits ! D'ye know what road to honor leads,
And good old age ? a lovely sight! By way o' temperance, honest deeds,
And tryin' to do y'r duty right. And when the road forks ary side,
And you 're in doubt which one it is, Stand still, and let your conscience guide ;
Thank God it ca' n't lead you much amiss. And now the road to churchyard gate
You need n't ask! Go any where ! Go, whether round-about or straight,
All roads at last 'll bring you there.