Rab and His Friends eBook

John Brown (essayist)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 25 pages of information about Rab and His Friends.

    “In the soothing thoughts that spring
     Out of human suffering;”

for sympathy is worth nothing, is, indeed, not itself, unless it has in it somewhat of personal pain.  It is the hereafter that gives to

    “the touch of a vanished hand,
     And the sound of a voice that is still,”

its own infinite meaning.  Our hearts and our understandings follow Ailie and her “ain man” into that world where there is no pain, where no one says, “I am sick.”  What is all the philosophy of Cicero, the wailing of Catullus, and the gloomy playfulness of Horace’s variations on “Let us eat and drink,” with its terrific “for,” to the simple faith of the carrier and his wife in “I am the resurrection and the Life”?

I think I can hear from across the fields of sleep and other years Ailie’s sweet, dim, wandering voice trying to say,—­

Our bonnie bairn’s there, John,
She was baith gude and fair, John,
And we grudged her sair, John,
        To the land o’ the leal.

But sorrow’s sel’ wears past, John,
The joys are comin’ fast, John,
The joys that aye shall last, John,
        In the land o’ the leal.

Edinburgh, 1861.

 [Illustration:  a cherub]


Portrait, Dr. John Brown . . . . . . .  Frontispiece.
Rab . . . . . . . .  Hermann Simon

“He is muzzled!”. . . . .  Hermann Simon

“He lifted down Ailie his wife” . . .  Edmund H. Garrett

“One look at her quiets the students” . .  Edmund H. Garrett

“Rab looked perplexed and dangerous” . .  Hermann Simon

“—­And passed away so gently” . .  Edmund H. Garrett

“Down the hill through Auchindinny woods” Edmund H. Garrett

Rab and Jess . . . . . .  Hermann Simon


Four-and-thirty years ago, Bob Ainslie and I were coming up Infirmary Street from the High School, our heads together, and our arms intertwisted, as only lovers and boys know how, or why.

When we got to the top of the street, and turned north, we espied a crowd at the Tron Church.  “A dog-fight!” shouted Bob, and was off; and so was I, both of us all but praying that it might not be over before we got up!  And is not this boy-nature? and human nature too? and don’t we all wish a house on fire not to be out before we see it?  Dogs like fighting; old Isaac says they “delight” in it, and for the best of all reasons; and boys are not cruel because they like to see the fight.  They see three of the great cardinal virtues of dog or man—­courage, endurance, and skill—­in intense action.  This is very different from a love of making dogs fight, and enjoying, and aggravating, and making gain by their pluck.  A boy,—­be he ever so fond himself of fighting,—­if he be a good boy, hates and despises all this, but he would have run off with Bob and me fast enough:  it is a natural, and a not wicked interest, that all boys and men have in witnessing intense energy in action.

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Rab and His Friends from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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