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BY FRANCIS JACOX
ECCLESIASTES iil. 4.» LIFE has been called a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel But life is no laughing matter to those who both think and feel, in any deep sense of either thinking or feeling. Studied in the light of reason and of revelation, life is far from provocative of laughter. Even the laughter it provokes as a comedy is confessedly cynical. The Bible and Broad Grins will hardly do bound up together. Nevertheless, it is something for lovers of a good laugh to be able to quote Scripture warrant for it. - The most melancholy book of all the books which make up the Book of books recognizes " a time to laugh." A good laugh, then, in a good sense, can plead the express sanction of Scripture. A word spoken in due season, how good is it ! and a good laugh, if only within reason and in due season, how good is that, too ! Out of season, and out of all reason, just proportionably bad. To laugh in church, or at a funeral, is perhaps as unseasonable ^ feat as can well be named. Yet were * For another collection of illustrative comments on this passage, see First Series of Secular Annotations on Scripture Texts ^ pp. 296-300.
LA UGHING IN CHURCH. 403 it against both reason and charity to infer exceptional culpability in culprits of this degree, if, by constitution and circumstances combined, overtaken with a fault so deplorable. Themselves may be the foremost to deplore, and yet the first to do it again. Lamb tells Southey of his having been at Hazlitt's marriage, and nearly being turned out several times during the ceremony : " Anything awful makes me laugh. I misbehaved once at a funeral." He could read about these ceremonies with pious and proper feelings. But to him the realities of life seemed only the mockeries. That came of his being a bom humorist, with a spice of the metaphysician too. In his essay on a Wedding, Elia professes to know not what business he had to be present in solemn places ; for divest himself he could not of an unseasonable disposition to levity upon the most awful occasions. He was the man of men to have made allowances for, and not to have put into a lunatic asylum, that Mr. Robinson, the cynic, whom we meet with as an inmate of Shirley Hall Asylum^ and who would burst into violent fits of laughter in church and at funerals. Discharged from confinement as cured, and asked whether he considered
himself perfectly safe from a return of the habit of laughing at serious subjects, that gentleman declared himself confident about it, except on one point ; on the subject of laughing in church he was still apprehensive, and for this reason : — he had once heard a clergyman deploring the total absence, in a congr^ation, of conventional signs of the effect which the sermon is producing: "The jester knows the effect of his jest by the laugh that follows it ; the actor gets his applause or hisses ; the member of Parliament his cheers or cries of ' question.' '' But the preacher has no index whatever; and this clergyman had expressed a wish that his congfregation had tails, which they could wag " without dis-
404 PSALM'SINGING AND LAUGHING, turbing the silence of the place or the solemnity of the scene." Now Mr. Robinson could never get over this ; every sermon he afterwards listened to was for him spoilt by it. " If a pet parson entered the pulpit, I immediately saw all the feminine tails wagging. If he spoke of the duties of children to their parents, all the senile male tails wagged ; if of the duties of servants to their superiors, all the matronly tails were in agitation. And after a long dull sermon, when all bent forward to offer up their last prayer, there appeared a simultaneous wagging of all the tails of the congregation* The return of this feeling I alone fear." John Wesley regarded as clearly supernatural the " great laughter that prevailed in the congregation '' at one time when he was preaching ; whereas his brother Charles, less credulous, was once and again able to detect an imposition, where John could only see a miracle. When both brothers were in what Southey calls " the first stage of their enthusiasm," they used to spend part of each Sunday in walking in the fields and singing psalms ; and upon one such occasion, just as they were beginning to set the stave, a sense of the ridiculous overcame Charles, who burst into a hearty and prolonged guffaw. " I asked him," says John, " if he was distracted, and began to be very angry, and presently after to laugh as loud as he. Nor could we possibly refrain, though we were ready to tear ourselves in pieces, but were forced to go home without singing another line." Hysterical laughter, and that laughter which is as contagious as the act of yawning, when the company are in tune for it, Wesley believed to be the work of the devil — one of the many points in which Southey takes the parallel to hold good between " the enthusiasm of the Methodists and of the Papists." We are referred, for instance, to a grand diatribe of St. Pachomius against
LA UGHING ON SOLEMN OCCASIONS. 405
laughing ; but also to what is told in the Acta Sanctorum of the beatified Jordan, second general of the Dominicans, who treated an hysterical affection of this kind with a degree of " prudence and practical wisdom not often to be found in the life of a Romish saint." Witness his treatment of the novices who laughed in the face of the congr^ation, contagiously add consumedly : unt^ cospit rider Cy et alii hoc videntes similiter fortiter inceperunt ridere. Reproved by a superior, and commanded straitly and straightway to desist from that indecent outbreak, they only laughed on, and laughed the more : at illi magis ac magis ridebant The service over, Jordan rebuked the rebuker for his rebuke, and turning to the novices said, " Laugh away with all your might ; I give you full licence. In good truth, you ought to laugh and be merry, forasmuch as you have made your way out of the devil's prison, and that the hard chains are snapped asunder by which for many years he held you bound. Laugh away, then, beloved, laugh away." Ridete, ergOy carissimiy ridete. And the laughers are said to have been so comforted in mind by these words, that from that time forth they never could laugh beyond bounds or intern* perately : etpost rider e dissoluti non potueriinL When the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of James L, accompanied to the altar, in the chapel at Whitehall, that ill-starred bridegroom, the Elector Palatine, afterwards the " struggling King of Bohemia," she could not help laughing out loud at something which tickled her fancy. Dr. Chalmers "burst out" at a ludicrous incident at his own wedding — " a business that is often accompanied with tears" being thus converted into "a perfect frolic." That Mar6chal de Boufflers whom Saint-Simon designates as the gravest and most serious man in all France, and the greatest slave to decorum, broke out into laughter once while in attendance on the Grand
4o6 UNCONTROLLABLE LAUGHTER.
Monarque at mass — the cause effective of this defect being a whispered sally of satirical song ; and when His Most Christian Majesty turned round in surprise to see whence came those unseasonable sounds, that surprise was greatly augmented by his finding who the culprit was, and beholding such a personage shaking himself all to fits, and the tears running down his cheeks. Aspasia, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Maid's Tragedy^ deprecating a " timeless smile," protests, ^ It were a fitter hour for me to laugh When at the altar the religious priest
Were pacifying the offended powers With sacrifice." But laughter at such unfit times is notoriously on record. More than one of the Latin epig^mmatists paraphrase the saw of the Greek gnomic poet, But when did such sententious philosophy avail to prevent a sudden burst of laughter from a tickled midriff? Thomas Hood cites his own experience of "laughter mingling with lamentation in the chamber of death " itself. Henry Nelson Coleridge frankly avowed his "ungovernable tendency to laughter upon the most solemn occasions." Every one, Sir Walter Scott says, has felt that when a paroxysm of laughter has seized him at' a misbecoming time and place, the efforts which he makes to suppress it, — nay, the very sense of the impropriety of giving way to it, — ^tend only to augment and prolong the irresistible impulse. " The inclination to laugh becomes uncontrollable, when the solemnity and gravity of time, place, and circumstances render it peculiarly im. proper." Judge Haliburton's travelled Yankee declares that " stiflin* a larf a'most stifles oneself, that 's a facL^* Casus plane deplorabilis ! used to be the cry of the doctor in Martinus Scriblerus when a case of immoderate laugh-
OBSTREPERO US LA t/GHTER. 407 ter was submitted to him j and he would give such patients over when he considered what an infinity of muscles " these laughing rascals " threw into a convulsive motion at the same time ; whether we regard the spasms of the diaphragm and all the muscles of respiration, the horrible rictus of the mouth, the distortion of the lower jaw, the crisping of the nose, twinkling of the eyes, or spherical convexity of the cheeks, with the " tremulous succussion '' of the whole human body. One main characteristic of the Prussian Tobacco-Parliament immortalized by Mr. Carlyle, was roaring laughter, huge* rude, and somewhat vacant, as that of the Norse gods over their ale at Yule time; "as if the face of the Sphynx were to wrinkle itself in laughter ; or the fabulous Houyhnms themselves were there to mock in their peculiar fashion,'' at such horseplay as never elsewhere was seen. Mr. Forster describes Goldsmith's as a laugh ambitious to compete with Johnson's, which Tom Davies^ with an epviable knowledge of natural history, compared to the laugh of a rhinoceros ; and which appeared to Boswell, in their midnight walkings, to resound from Temple Bar to Fleet Ditch. Dr. Parr may have wished to compete with the elder and every way greater Doctor in that as in other respects, — judging by what De Quincey relates of his " obstreperous laugh — so monstrously beyond the key of good society." Ridentem catuli ore Gallicani — ^the picture is a pretty one in neither sex, and the din is distracting. Charles Lamb,
in one of his letters, tells a correspondent of a visit he has lately had at his office, from an eccentric acquaintance, who laughed at his own joke with " a laugh which I did not think the lungs of mortal man were competent to. It was like a thousand people laughing, or the Goblin Page." He imagined afterwards, it seems, that the whole office had been laughing at him, so strange did his
4o8 A GUFFAW.
own sounds strike upon his ''fr^^sensorium/' The burst might have been likened, not merely to that of Scott's Goblin Page in the Lay^ but to that of the "strange extravagant laughter " in Hood's Farge^ or romance of the ironage^ "-*-- a bellow of demon mirthy that far outroars the weather. As if all the hyaenas that prowl the earth had clubbed their laughs together.'' Leigh Hunt, when an inmate of Surrey Gaol, after the Government prosecution, appears to have been almost equally impressed by Haydon's laugh, even within prison walls : " He was here yesterday morning before I was up, calling for his breakfast, and sending those laughs of his about the place that sound like the trumpets of Jericho, and threaten to have the same effect," — ^namely, bring down the walls. The Shepherd in the Noctes is graphic about a guffaw, when he defines it to be '^ that lauchter that torments a' the inside o' the listener and looker-on, an internal earthquake that convulses a body frae the pow till the paw, frae the fingers till the feet, till a' the pent-up power o' risibility bursts out through the mouth, like the lang-smouldering fire vomited out o* the crater o' a volcawno, and then the astonished warld hears, for the first time, what heaven and earth acknowledge by their echoes to be indeed— a guffaw ! " Christopher North, in his Winter Rhapsody, cries fie on the " atrocious wickedness " of a great big, hearty, huge, hulking horse-laugh, in an assemblage of ladies and gentlemen gathered gracefully together to enjoy the courtesies, the amenities, the urbanities and the humanities of cultivated Christian life : " the pagan who perpetuates it should be burnt alive — not at a slow fire, — though that would be but justice,-:— but at a quick one, that all remnants of him and his enormity may be speedily extinguished." Sir Charles Grandison's
SILL Y LA UGHTER. 409 Hoa Miss Byron is impatient of Miss Barnevelt as a " loud and fearless laugher. She hardly knows how to
smile ; for as soon as anything catches her fancy, her voice immediately bursts her lips, and widens her mouth to its full extent/^ Ben Jonson's Clerimont is equally impatient : " Oh, you shall see some women, when they laugh, you would think they brayed, it is so rude,'* etc. The long dry see-saw of such a horrible bray is Hartley Coleridge's text for a denunciation of harsh boisterous laughter, which he compares to the winding-up of a crazy church-clock, the hysterics of a " mastiff-bitch,*' the lamentations of a patient in hydrophobia, and the Christmas psalmody of a catarrh-caught and coughing congregation. Not that he for one moment agrees with those pious Fathers who attributed all extempore laughing to the agency of evil spirits ; but the mere mechanical convulsion of leathern lungs, uninformed by imagination or feeling, was justly an offence to him. Lebrun's advice is stringent, " Gardez-vous d'un sot rire ; il n'est rien de plus sot." There is nothing, says Goethe, in which people more betray their character than in what they find to laugh at. The vacant, inane, causeless, but exuberant laughter of Mrs. Palmer in Miss Austen's Sense and Sensibility, is by no means unique : " Elinor could have forgiven everything but her laugh." Nothing, in Hazlitt's estimate, is more troublesome than what are called laughing people — the professed laugher being as contemptible and tiresome a character as the professed wit, of whom the one is always contriving something to laugh at, the other always laughing at nothing. " An excess of levity is as impertinent as an excess ot gravity." Spenser's picture is to the purpose, of one " who did assay To laugh at shaking of the leaves light" Nothing sillier than silly laughter, says Martial : Risu
4IO LA UGHTER IN EXCESS. inepto res ineptior nulla est, — and by inepto is meant misplaced, in effect unseasonable, out of due time and course, without justifying occasion, and therefore irrational, and by implication imbecile. A philosophic writer has said that the true character of earnestness is to laugh if there is anything to cause laughter, and not to laugh if there is nothing to laugh at A French one says, that some folks laugh equally at what is ludicrous and what is not : if you are a fool, for instance, and give vent to some characteristic folly, they laugh at you ; if you are a wise man, and give utterance to nothing but what accords with reason and good sense, they laugh at you all the same. Risus abundat in ore stultorunL George Herbert's counsel is, '^ Laugh not too much : the witty man laughs least : For wit is news only to ignorance."
Moliire*s Cl^onte puts a question that answers itself (in the negative) when he asks, " Vois-tu rien de plus impertinent que des femmes qui rient 4 tout propos V* In Shakspeare we have varied representations of laughter in excess — in those irrepressibly prolonged fits such as Sydney Smith and Tom Moore could indulge in together, even in the public streets, or such as, in his milder and more retired way, Cowper was capable of, as when he " lay awake half the night in convulsions of laughter '' at the story of John Gilpin, which Lady Austen had that evening related to him at Olney, with a vivacity and archness all her own. The merry lords, for instance, in Lovers Labour* s Lost, who " all did tumble on the ground, With such a zealous laughter so profound. That in this spleen ridiculous appears, To check their folly, passion's solemn tears *' — a suggestive example of extremes meeting, and of the affinity of conflicting forces, in this strangely composite
JAQUES, POSTHUMUS, ACHILLES, 4" nature of ours. There is Jaques, again, m As You Like It, so tickled by the philosophy of the motley fool he met in the forest, that, says he, describing the colloquy with Touchstone, "My lungs began to crow like chanticleer, . . . ' And I did laugh, sans intermission, An hour by his dial." When Jaques, in a later act of the play, owns to the justice of Rosalind's charge, of his being by repute a melancholy fellow, — " I am so ; I love it better than laughing," — ^she rejoins, "Those that are in extremity of either, are abominable fellows ; and betray themselves to every modern censure, worse than drunkards/' Ne quid nimisy whether of the ludicrous or the lugubrious, whether of grinning or of gloom. lachimo is but libelling Posthumus when he pictures him to Imogen as " the jolly Briton,'' laughing from his " free lungs," and
crying, "O! can my sides hold!" with "his eyes in flood with laughter." In Troilus and Cressida, "there was such laughing ! — Queen Hecuba laughed, that her eyes ran over," and even " Cassandra laughed," and Hector, " and all the rest so laughed ;" while in another scene we have Patroclus tickling Achilles with his scurril jests and burlesque mimicries, at which " fusty stuff,— " The large Achilles, on his pressed bed lolling, From his deep chest laughs out a loud applause : . . . and at this sport Sir Valour dies ; cries, Oh ! — enough, Patroclus ; Or give me ribs of steel ! I shall split all In pleasure of my spleen." But Shakspeare's own welcome of good hearty laughter in season and within reason, and his scant reverence for total abstainers from it, on principle, or by a defect or a twist in their temperament, are seen in passages by the score. He might not go all the way with his mercurial
412 STIFLED LAUGHTER. Gratiano when he elected to play the fool, and would have old wrinkles come with mirth and laughter; but Shakspeare used Gratiano as his own mouthpiece when declaiming against ^ a sort of men whose visages Do cream and mantle, like a standing pond ; And do a wilful stillness entertain," for the sake of being reputed too grave for a passing chuckle, too wise for even a flitting smile: Portia, in the same play, declares she had rather be married to a death^s head with a bone in his mouth, than to one of this sort, the County Palatine to wit, who " hears merry tales, and smiles not,^' and who is like to prove the weeping philosopher when he is old, so full of unmannerly sadness in his youth.* Cowper is didactic on the via media, the golden mean:
'* For tell some men that, pleasure all their bent, And laughter all their work, life is misspent, Their wisdom bursts into the sage reply. Then mirth is sin, and we should always cry. To find the medium asks some share of wit. And therefore 'tis a mark fools never hit'' In Peter Damiani^s black account of the sins which he had to struggle against, one is " disposition to laughter/' Now, true religion, as interpreted by a later theologian, wages no abstract war against any part of man's nature, but gives to each its due subordination or supremacy, breathing sweetness and purity through all. A sober view of human life, he contends, will show that to " proscribe the jocose side of our nature would be a blunder as grievous in its way as to proscribe love between men and women." There are times and places when we cannot, as well as may not, laugh ; but it is by no means the highest state alwaj^ to stifle laughter. That rather belongs, he argues, to the stifl* precisian, who fears to betray something false within him, and habitually wears
LEGITIMATE LAUGHTER. 413 a mask, lest his heart be too deeply exposed ; while the true-hearted fearlessly yields to his impulse, and '' no more wishes to hide it from the All-seeing eye, than a child would hide his childish sports from the eye of a father/' Dr. O. W, Holmes satirizes, in Nux Postccma^ tica, the exacting stringency of some governing powers : "Besides — ^my prospects— don't you know that people won't employ A man that wrongs his manliness by laughing like a boy ? . . It's a vastly pleasing prospect, when you're screwing out a laugh. That your very next year's income is diminished by a half." To say that solemnity is an essential of greatness, that no great man can have other than a rigid vinegar aspect of countenance, never to be thawed or warmed by billows of mirth, Mr. Carlyle very explicitly declines. For his teaching is, that there are things in this world to be laughed at, as well as things to be admired ; and that his is no complete mind, that cannot give to each sort its due. It might be the Plea of other " good people '' than the Midsummer Fairies : " Beshrew those sad interpreters of nature, Who gloze her lively universal law. As if she had not formed our cheerful feature To be so tickled with the sUghtest straw." Dr. Young seems more than half inclined to pronounce laughter wholly immoral. Half-immoral he does explicitly and deliberately and emphatically term it: — '' Laughter, though never censured yet as sin,
(Pardon a thought that only seems severe) Is half-immoraL Is it much indulged ? By venting spleen, or dissipating thought. It shows a scomer, or it makes a fool ; And sins, as hurting others or ourselves. 'Tis pride, or emptiness, applies the straw That tickles little minds to mirth effuse ; Of grief approaching, the portentous sign ! The house of laughter makes a house of woe."
414 PLEAS FOR LAUGHTER. Sombrius i^ Addison's name for one of those '' sons of sorrow " who think themselves obliged in duty to be sad and disconsolate, and who look on a sudden fit of laughter as a breach of their baptismal vow, who sigh at the conclusion of a meny story, and grow devout when the rest of the company grow pleasant If we may believe our logicians, pleads Mr. Spectator, man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter. He has a heart capable of mirth, and naturally disposed to it ; and it is the business of virtue, not to extirpate the affections of the mind, but to regulate them ; it may moderate and restrain, but was not designed to banish gladness from the heart of man. "A man would neither choose to be a hermit nor a buffoon : human nature is not so miserable as that we should be always melancholy, nor so happy as that we should be always merry.'^ A crabbed crew is that depicted in Mr. Luttrell^s octosyllabics : "No smile is on their lips, no word Of cheerful sound among them heard, As if all virtue lay in gravity, And smiles were symptoms of depravity." Grave as might be Milton's elder manhood, in his youth at least he was the academical apologist of hearty laughter, " most abundant and free." He then at least could and would have echoed the French bard's J^aime le rire, — " Non le rire ironique aux sarcasmes moqueurs Mais le doux rire honn^te ouvrant bouches et coeurs, Qui montre en m6me temps des imes et des perles." It is of about the least estimable of all the character portraits in his noble gallery, that Scott tells us that " his laugh never exceeded a sarcastic smile." But the same sort of thing is told of many real people, good people too, and some of them even great A smile is
PEOPLE WHO NEVER LAUGH. 4tJ
said to have been the utmost that ever played over the lips of the "intensely melancholy'^ Plato; he never laughed. ("As sad as Plato/' became a phrase with the comic dramatists.) Phocion was never once by the Athenians seen to laugh (or, for the matter of that, to cry either). Plutarch says of Cato, " Scarce anything could make him laugh ; and it was but rarely that his countenance was softened to a smile." Yet the same biographer incidentally mentions afterwards that Cato " used always to laugh when he told the story " of his reception at Antioch. Montesquieu, in the Persian Letters, makes Usbek affirm the existence in Turkey of families where, from father to son, since the kingdom began, not a soul has ever laughed, personne tia ri. It is an old-world story of Crassus, the grandsire of Marcus the wealthy Roman, that he never laughed but once in all his life, and that was at sight of an ass eating thistles. Julius Saturninus, son of the Emperor Philip the Arabian, is asserted never to have laughed at anything at all, — ^asinine or what not. It was said of Philip IV. of Spain, that he never in his life laughed out, except at the recital of the story of the Queen of Spain having no legs. Lord Sandys, Sir Robert Walpole's successor as financeminister, was said by Horace to have never laughed but once, and that was when his best friend broke his thigh. A Parliamentary prig from his cradle, perhaps, after the type of that Mr. Pynsent whom Pendennis taxes with having never laughed since he was born, except three times at the same joke of his chief. Swedenborg was never seen to laugh, though he is allowed to have always had a cheerful smile on his countenance. Swift smiled seldom, laughed never. Madame de Motteville noted avec itonnementy of Lewis the Fourteenth,^ that even " dans ses jeux et dans ses divertissements ce prince ne riait gu^re." Fontenelle never laughed; and being inquir-
4i6 NEVER SEEN TO LAUGH. ingly told so by Madame GeofFrin, " No/* was his reply, " I have never uttered an Ah ! ah ! ah ! " That was his idea of laughter : he could be moved to a faint smile indeed by choses fines^ but was incapable of any lively feeling whatever. Sainte-Beuve remarks of him, that as he had never uttered din ah! ahiahf sb neither had he an oh! oh ! oh ! — ^that is to say, he had never admired. Nothing of the kind could be alleged of that predecessor and namesake of the Grand Moharque, the ninth of the name, and canonized a Saint ; or again of that yet earlier one, the Debonaire, who " never raised his voice in laughing, not even on occasions of public rejoicing/* when jesters set and kept his table in a roar, ''^not even smiling so as to show his white teeth/* La Rochefoucauld, in his Portrait fait par lui-miine^ was no less scrupulous to avow himself melancholy, and never laughing more than one laugh /^r annum^ than Rousseau was
to disavow a letter imputed to him which made him declare he had not laughed more than once or twice in his life ; the forgers of which epistle, he averred, could not have known him in his younger days, or such a notion would never have crossed their brain, Jean-Jacques had no ambition to be taken for the sort of man mine host of Ben Jonson's New Inn is keen to practise upon, if so be he can but '' spring a smile upon this brow, '^ That, like the rugged Roman alderman, Old master Cross, surnamM 'AycXcurrof, Was never seen to laugh, but at an ass.** Referring in one of his Spectators to what he calls " men of austere principles " who look upon mirth as too wanton and dissolute for a state of probation, and as filled with a certain triumph and insolence of heart, that is inconsistent with a life exposed at every moment to the greatest dangers^ Addison cites the observation of
NO LA UGH ON RECORD OF THE MAN OF SORRO WS. 41 7 writers of this complexion, " that the sacred person who was the great pattern of perfection was never seen to laugh."* The " conceit " is discussed, or rather touched upon in passing, by Sir Thomas Browne, in the seventh book of Vulgar Errors — a conceit " sometimes urged as a high example of gravity. And this is opinioned because in Holy Scripture it is recorded He sometimes wept, but never that He laughed. Which, howsoever granted, it will be hard to conceive how He passed His younger years and childhood without a smile, if as divinity affirmeth, for the assurance of His humanity unto men, jind the concealment of His divinity from the devil, he passed this age like other children, and so proceeded until He evidenced the same. And surely herein no danger there is to affirm the act or performance of that, whereof we acknowledge the power and essential property; and whereby indeed He most nearly convinced the doubt of His humanity." One of Sir Thomas Browne's commentators hereupon remarks that " the doubt of His humanity was convinced soe many other wayes (before His passion)," that "the propertye of risibilitye (which is indeed the'usuall instance of the schooles) though it bee inseparable from the nature of man, and incommunicable to any other nature, yet itt does not infer the necessitye of the acte in every individuall subject or person of man." Jeremy Taylor, in his Exhortation to the Imitation of the Life of Christ, while admitting that we never read "that Jesus laughed, and but once that He rejoiced in spirit," goes on to argue that the " declensions of our natures cannot bear the weight of a perpetual grave deportment, without the intervals of refreshment and free alacrity." In the same
* " He would weep often, but never laugh." — Ludolphus, Vita Christi, ££
4i8 A TIME TO LAUGH. spirit the late Archdeacon Hare argued, that Ti4iile» avowedly, we cannot follow too closely the Great Exemplar, we are not to cleave servilely to the outward form,' but rather to endeavour that the principles of our actions may be the same which He manifested in His; for as He did many things which we cannot do,— as He had a power and a wisdom which lie altogether beyond our reach, — ^so are there many things which beseem us in our human, earthly relations, but which it did not enter into His purpose to sanction by His express example. '' Else on the selfsame grounds it might be contended, that it does not befit a Christian to be a husband or a father, seeing that Jesus has set us no example of these two sacred relations." A later commentator holds it to be as certain that the Man of Sorrows smiled at the gambols of a child, and shared the joy of the good, as that He sat at a wedding feast, and turned water into wine, and entered the house of joy as well as that of mourning. Man, on the same authority, is a laughing animal; superior to the "lower" animals in this, if in nothing else ; and to be ashamed of laughter, to hold back genuine mirth, is pronounced unworthy of the good, brave man who loves sunshine, and the lark's song, and the open breezy day, and dares to enjoy the happy thoughts which his Creator has, by assumption, put into his heart, to enliven and to better it Rigid repressers and reprovers of laughter, as in itself a thing to be rigorously and vigorously, at all seasons and for all reasons, reproved and repressed, would seem to have based their system on a literal and exclusive reading of the once-uttered woe, " Woe unto you that laugh now I for ye sh^ll mourn and weep." Equally they would seem tp have never read, or else to have clean forgotten, the benediction that by only a few verses precedes that woe : " Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh." He that pronounced the blessing, recognised therefore a time to laugh; and recognised it as the good time coming, all in good time to come.
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