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-But, friend,
We speak of what is—not of what might be,
And how 'twere better if 'twere otherwise.

Mais laissons les suppositions sans but précis et sans solution possible.

“Still,” mutters Some One, “still it might have chanced.” “Might!" quoth Crabbe's Hero, “who is so exact As to inquire what MIGHT HAVE BEEN a fact ?”

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A Cue from Shakspeare.

Good and trusty fellow, and attached follower of Northumberland's, as Morton is, Northumberland shrinks from that man's presence, and avoids the sound of his voice, from the hour he brought the earl tidings of Harry Percy's death. For,

-the first bringer of unwelcome news Hath but a losing office; and his tongue Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,

Remember'd knolling a departing friend, Well may Rosse deprecate the antipathy of Macduff, when breaking to him the bitter bad news of his massacred household:

Let not your ears despise my tongue for ever,
Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound

That ever yet they heard. Salisbury finds a worse than ungracious reception from the noble Lady Constance, when he brings her word of adverse events. Proud peer and loyal soldier though she knows him to be, she cannot control a passionate outburst of personal aversion, of the

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instant born, and at the spur of the moment expressed

Fellow, begone; I cannot brook thy sight;
This news hath made thee a most ugly man.

Sal. What other harm have I, good lady, done,
But spoke the harm that is by others done ?

Const. Which harm within itself so heinous is, As it makes harmful all that speak of it. Lewis the Dauphin's reception of a messenger of disaster in the same play, is, “Ah, foul shrewd news! -Beshrew thy very heart!" Richard the Second's gentle queen becomes a very shrew in her onset on the gardener that reports her husband's fall :

-How dares
Thy harsh-rude tongue sound this unpleasing news ?

Say, where, when, and how, Cam'st thou by these ill-tidings ? speak, thou wretch. Vain is the poor bullied gardener's “Pardon me, madam; little joy have I to breathe this news.” he but brings upon himself this comminatory rhyme without reason,

Gardener, for telling me this news of woe, I would the plants thou graft'st may never grow. So with Juliet turning on the Nurse and her black intelligence: “What devil art thou, that dost torment me thus ?” “O pardon me for bringing these ill news,” is Balthasar's deprecating appeal to Romeo, when acquainting him with Juliet's death.Indeed, Shakspeare abounds in illustrations of this topic—the unthankful office of the unwelcome newsbringer; other and diversified examples of which will occur farther on.


Adam Smith's chapter on Merit and Demerit contains wine remarks on the tendency of the agreeable or disagreeable effects of an action to throw a shadow

a 1.f merit or demerit upon the agent, though in his intentionis there be nothing deserving praise or blame, or at least that deserves them in the degree in which wear, apt to bestow them. “ Thus, even the mes

of bad news is disagreeable to us,” just as, on the contrary, we foc a sort of gratitude to the man who brings us good tidings : for a moment we look upon them both as the authors, the one of our good, the other of our bad fortune, and regard them in some inensure as if they had really brought about the oventa which they only give an account of. As the first author of our joy is naturally the object of a transitory gratitude, so the first author of our sorDOW in just as naturally the object of a (not always) transitory resentment.**

Sydney Smith, again, in one of his lectures on Moral Philosophy, expatiates on the same theme

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"Tigranos, King of Armenia, struck off the head of the man who brought him the first account of the approach of a formidallo onomy. To punish in this manner the author of bad thlings, hooma barbarous and inhuman: yet to reward the mensongor of good news is not disagreeable to us; we think it suitable to the bounty of kings. But why do we make this dittorence, nince, if there is no fault in the one, neither is there any merit in the other! It is because any sort of reason seems muilicient to authorise the exertion of the social and benevolent aftowtions; but it requires the most solid and substantial to the pin enter into that of the unsocial and malevolent,"Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, part ii, seet. iii.

--evidently fresh from the study of Father Adam. The messenger of good news, he says, is always an object of benevolence: every one knows that an officer who brings home the news of a victory, receives a donation in money,and is commonly knighted or promoted. Strictly speaking, it would be just as equitable, the lecturer affirms, to mulct him of half a year's pay for bringing home the news of a defeat, as to present him with £500 for bringing home the news of a victory; but, if they be not too great, all men sympathise with the excesses of the generous and benevolent passions; while they restrain the malevolent principles within the most rigid bounds of justice. « That the messenger

of disastrous news should be punished would appear to the impartial spectator the most horrible injustice; but no one envies his reward to him who brings good intelligence, though no one pretends to say that he has deserved it."

Deserved it, quotha ? Use every man after his desert, as Hamlet says, and who shall 'scape whipping ? Which is about the only consolation, as

? regards Merit and Demerit, that can be suggested to or for such bringers of unwelcome news as have been whipped, or otherwise evil entreated, by those to whom they were sent.

Pope considers that the speech of Antilochus, when breaking to Achilles the fatal news of his friend's death, ought to serve as a model for the brevity with which so dreadful a piece of news should be delivered.

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