A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 488 pages of information about A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.).
the glory of the Jewish race.[117] “Who of those present was willing to make it?” Again a hubbub arose.  The disciples within, the mixed crowd without, all clamoured for the privilege of lengthening the Rabbi’s life from their own.  Tsaddik deprecated so extensive a gift.  “Their teacher’s patience should not be overtaxed, like that of Perida (whose story he tells), by too long a spell of existence.”  He accepted from the general bounty exactly one year, to be recruited in equal portions from a married lover, a warrior, a poet, and a statesman; and, the matter thus settled, Jochanan Hakkadosh fell asleep.

Four times the Rabbi awoke, in renewed health and strength:  and four times again he fell asleep:  and at the close of each waking term Tsaddik revisited him as he sat in his garden—­amidst the bloom or the languors, the threatenings or the chill, of the special period of the year—­and questioned him of what he had learned.  And each time the record was like that of the previous seventy-nine years, one of disappointment and failure.  For the gift had been drawn in every case from a young life, and been neutralized by its contact with the old.  As a lover, the Rabbi declares, he has dreamed young dreams, and his older self has seen through them.  He has known beforehand that the special charms of his chosen one would prove transitory, and that the general attraction of her womanhood belonged to her sex and not to her.  As a warrior, he has experienced the same process of disenchantment.  For the young believe that the surest way to the Right and Good, is that, always, which is cut by the sword:  and that the exercise of the sword is the surest training for those self-devoting impulses which mark the moral nature of man.  The old have learned that the most just war involves, in its penalties, the innocent no less than the guilty; that violence rights no wrong which time and patience would not right more fully; and that for the purposes of self devotion, unassisted love is more effective than hate.  (Picturesque illustrations are made to support this view.) As poet, he has recalled the glow of youthful fancy to feel it quenched by the experience of age:  to see those soaring existences whose vital atmosphere is the future, frozen by their contact with a dead past.  As statesman, he has looked out upon the forest of life, again seeing the noble trees by which the young trace their future path.  And, seeing these, he has known, that the way leads, not by them, but among the brushwood and briars which fill the intervening space; that the statist’s work is among the mindless many who will obstruct him at every step, not among the intellectual few by whom his progress would be assisted.

As he completes his testimony another change comes over him; and Tsaddik, kissing the closing eyelids, leaves his master to die.

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A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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