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A Hero and Some Other Folks by William A. Quayle

Sidney Carton is of the same sort


attempts thicken. In our century they group together like violets on a stream's bank fronting the sun in spring. Literary artists, knowing how difficulties hedge this attempt, hesitate. There are many hints of the gentleman. Let us be glad for that, seeing we are enriched thereby. "Rab and His Friends" gives so strong a picture of stolid strength in love's fidelity, which knows to serve and suffer and die without a moan or being well aware of aught save love. And Dr. MacLure is a dear addition to our company of manhood, shouldering his way through Scotland's winter's storm and cold because need calls him; serving as his Master had taught him so long ago; forgetting himself in absorbing thought for others; lonely as a fireless hearth; longing for friendship which would not fail; reaching for Drumsheugh's hand, and holding it when death was claiming the good physician's hand. We could easily conceive we had been seated at the deathbed of a gentleman. Deacon Phoebe stands as a character in Annie Trumbull Slosson's "Seven Dreamers," a book which, outside Cable's "Old Creole Days," is to me the most perfect series of brief character-sketches drawn by an American author, and entirely worthy to stand by "A Window in Thrums," and "Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush," and "In Ole Virginia." Deacon Phoebe has forgotten himself. Unselfishness does not often rise to such heights. This "dreamer" of "Francony Way" is full brother to Sidney Carton, born across the seas. Self-forgetfulness,
so beautiful as that even name and sex become a memory dim as a distant sail upon an evening sea,--this must be a sight fitted to bring laughter to the heart of God. Deacon Phoebe is one trait in a gentleman. Sidney Carton is of the same sort, save that the hero element stands more apparent. His is a larger field, a more attractive background, thus throwing his figure into clearer relief. Deacon Phoebe was the self-abasement of humility, Sidney Carton is the supreme surrender of love; but the end of both is service. There ought to be a gallery in our earth from which men and women might lean and look on nobilities like Sidney Carton. That beatified face; that hand holding a woman's trembling hand, what time he whispered for her comfort, "I am the resurrection and the life," as the crowded tumbrel rattled on to the guillotine, and he faced death with smile as sweet as love upon his face, and love making a man thus divine,--this is Sidney Carton, who stirs our soul as storms stir the seas. Bonaventure, as drawn by Cable, is of similar design. He is unconscious as a flower; but had learned, as his schoolmaster-priest had taught him, to write "self" with a small "s;" so an untutored soul, lacerated with grief, pierced by suffering, gave himself over to goodness and help, becoming absorbed therein. Such is Bonaventure. He was what Tennyson has said of "the gardener's daughter," "A sight to make an old man young."

Love has learned to work miracles in character. Rains do not wash air so clean as love washes character, whiting "as no fuller on earth can white" it. And how constantly manhood neighbors with love is a beautiful and noteworthy circumstance. Here place Pete, in "The Manxman." You can not over-praise him. Some esteem him a fabulous character; but knowing his island and people well, I feel sure he is flesh and blood, though flesh and blood so uncommon and superior stagger our faith for a moment. It is the glory of our race that at rare springtime it bursts into such bloom that painter and poet are both bankrupt in attempting to copy this loveliness. Pete is such an effort of nature. His letters to himself, written as from his wife, to cover her shame and desertion, present a spectacle so magnanimous and pathetic as to upbraid us that we had never learned nobilities so sublime. Love made him great. And Macdonald, in Donal Grant, has shown us a strong, pure soul of moral strength, religious appetencies, determined goodness, of elevation of character, of strength and wisdom, so that in his accustomed walk he might have met Sir Percivale or Sir Launfal. Good, and given over to God, he was found out by love; and love did with him as with us all--love glorified him. In his clean life is something sturdy you might lean on, as on a staff, and have no fear. So is Enoch Arden made hero by love. In love, remembrance, and absence of self, he is manhood. We have all wept with Arden, finding our faces wet with tears, though not knowing we wept. His story never grows trite. Each time we read, new light breaks from this character as if it were a sun. The sight of him when he, like a poor thief, looking in at the window,

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