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 rumour of a persecution scatters the Jewish inhabitants of the city.  Not till three months have expired do they venture to return to it; and when Tsaddik and the other disciples seek the cave where their master lies, they find him, to their astonishment, alive.  Then Tsaddik remembers that even children urged their offering upon him, and concludes that some urchin or other contrived to make it “stick;” and he anxiously disclaims any share in the “foisting” this crude fragment of existence on the course of so great a life.  Hereupon the Rabbi opens his eyes, and turns upon the bystanders a look of such absolute relief, such utter happiness, that, as Tsaddik declares, only a second miracle can explain it.  It is a case of the three days’ survival of the “Ruach” or spirit, conceded to those departed saints whose earthly life has anticipated the heavenly; who have died, as it were, half in the better world.[118]

Tsaddik has, however, missed the right solution of the problem.  Jochanan Hakkadosh can only define his state as one of ignorance confirmed by knowledge; but he makes it very clear that it is precisely the gift of the child’s consciousness, which has produced this ecstatic calm.  The child’s soul in him has reconciled the differing testimony of youth and manhood:  solving their contradictions in its unquestioning faith and hope.  It has lifted him into that region of harmonized good and evil, where bliss is greater than the human brain can bear.  And this is how he feels himself to be dying; bearing with him a secret of perfect happiness, which he vainly wishes he could impart.[119]

“NEVER THE TIME AND THE PLACE” is a fanciful expression of love and longing, provoked by the opposition of circumstances.

The name of “PAMBO” or “Pambus” is known to literature,[120] as that of a foolish person, who spent months—­Mr. Browning says years—­in pondering a simple passage from Psalm xxxix.; and remained baffled by the difficulty of its application.  The passage is an injunction that man look to his ways, so that he do not offend with his tongue.  And Pambo finds it easy to practise the first part of this precept, but not at all so the second.  Mr. Browning declares himself in the same case.  “He also looks to his ways, and is guided along them by the critic’s torch.  But he offends with his tongue, notwithstanding.”


[Footnote 104:  Ethics, VII. vi. 2.]

[Footnote 105:  The story is told in Pausanias.  A painting of Echetlos was to be seen in the Poecile at Athens.]

[Footnote 106:  Petrus Aponensis:  author of a work quoted in the Idyl:  Conciliator Differentiarum.  Abano is a village near Padua.]

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