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A Hero and Some Other Folks by William A. Quayle

And the theme of this drama is


Job

is a prince, old, rich, fortunate, benevolent, and good. Life has dealt kindly with him, and looking at his face you would not, from his wrinkles, guess his years. The great honor him; the good trust him; the poor, in his bounty find plenty; no blessing has failed him, so that his name is a synonym of good fortune,--such a man is chief person of this drama, written by some unknown genius. Singular, is it not, that this voice, from an antiquity remoter than literature can duplicate, should be anonymous? Not all commodities have the firm's name upon them. Some of the world's noblest thoughts are entailed on the generations, they not knowing whence they sprang. He who speaks a great word is not always conscious it is great. We are often hidden from ourselves. But our joy is, some nameless poet has made Job chief actor in the drama of a good man's life. "The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord," the Scriptures say, and such a man was Job; and the theme of this drama is, how shall a good man behave under circumstances ruinously perverse, and what shall be his fate? The theme has rare attraction, and appeals to us as a home message, dear to our heart as a fond word left us by a departing friend.

The drama has prologue, dialogue, and epilogue. The actors are Job's friends, Job's self, Satan, and God.

Temporarily, as an object lesson to children in the moral kindergarten, God gave prosperity under

the Mosaic code as proof of piety. This _regime_ was a brief temporality, God not dealing in giving visible rewards to goodness, else righteousness would become a matter of merchandise, being quotable in Dun's. When we reason of righteousness, that the good are blest seems a necessary truth; yet they do not appear so. They are afflicted as others, "the rain falls on the just and the unjust;" nay, more, the wicked even seem favored; "he is not in trouble as other men;" prosperity smiles on him, like a woman on her favored lover; and the spirit cries out involuntarily, as if thrust through by an angry sword, "How can these things be?" And this bitter cry, wrung from the suffering good man, is theme for the drama of Job; and in this stands solitary as it stands sublime.

A first quality of greatness in a literary production is, that it deals with some universal truth. "How can good men suffer if God be good?" How pressingly important and importunate this question is! "Does goodness pay?" is the commercial putting of the question. Such being the meaning of Job, how the poem thrusts home, and how modern and personal is it become! When conceived as the drama of a good man's life, every phase of the discussion becomes apparently just. Nothing is omitted and nothing is out of place.

Job sits in the sunshine of prosperity. Not a cloud drifts across his sky, when, without word of warning, a night of storm crushes along his world, destroys herds and servants, reduces his habitations to ruins, slays his children, leaves himself in poverty, a mourner at the funeral of all he loved. Then his world begins to wonder at him; then distrust him, as if he were evil; his glory is eclipsed, as it would seem, forever; and, as if not content at


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