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Pebbles on the shore [by] Alpha of the plough eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 182 pages of information about Pebbles on the shore [by] Alpha of the plough.
see the apples reddening on the trees, and the hedgerows thick with blackberries.  But this is the setting of my drama—­the scenery of the play, not the play itself.  It is its human contacts that give life its vivacity and intensity.  And it is the ear and tongue that are the channels of the cheerful interplay of mind with mind.  In that interplay the blind man has full measure and brimming over.  His very affliction intensifies his part in the human comedy and gives him a peculiar delight in homely intercourse.  He is not merely at his ease in the human family:  he is the centre of it.  He fulfils Johnson’s test of a good fellow:  he is “a clubbable man.”

And even in the enjoyment of the external world it may be doubted whether he does not find as much mental stimulus as the deaf-and-dumb.  He cannot see the sunset, but he hears the shout of the cuckoo, the song of the lark, “the hum of bees, and rustle of the bladed corn.”  And if, as usually happens, he has music in his soul, he has a realm of gold for his inheritance that makes life a perpetual holiday.  Have you heard Mr. William Wolstenholme, the composer, improvising on the piano?  If not, you have no idea what a jolly world the world of sounds can be to the blind.  Of course, the case of the musician is hardly a fair test.  With him, hearing is life and deafness death.  There is no more pathetic story than that of Beethoven breaking the strings of the piano in his vain efforts to make his immortal harmonies penetrate his soundless ears.  Can we doubt that had he been afflicted with blindness instead of deafness the tragedy of his life would have been immeasurably relieved?  What peace, could he have heard his Ninth Symphony, would have slid into his soul.  Blind Milton, sitting at his organ, was a less tragic figure and probably a happier man than Milton with a useless ear-trumpet would have been.  Perhaps without the stimulus of the organ he could not have fashioned that song which, as Macaulay says in his grandiloquent way, “would not have misbecome the lips of those ethereal beings whom he saw with that inner eye, which no calamity could darken, flinging down on the jasper pavements their crowns of amaranth and gold.”

It is probable that in a material sense blindness is the most terrible affliction that can befall us; but I am here speaking only of its spiritual effects, and in this respect the deprivation of hearing and speech seems to involve a more forlorn state than the deprivation of sight.  The one affliction means spiritual loneliness:  the other deepens the spiritual intimacies of life.  It was a man who had gone blind late in life who said:  “I am thankful it is my sight which has gone rather than my hearing.  The one has shut me off from the sun:  the other would have shut me off from life.”

ON TAXING VANITY

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