By J. S. F. Miller
But for Irving, I should never have known what communion with man meant.—Carlyle
The laws that govern human sympathy are as inexplicable as are all the vital cosmic laws which reign in the other great departments of life. Yet these laws are as those of the Medes and Persians, strong and invulnerable as the stars, invincible as the tides, which no man has power to alter or reverse.
Sympathy is one of the grandest and noblest forces which dwells within the heart of man; it grows with his growth, and reaches its perfection as he reaches perfection. The greatest soul is he who contains the greatest heart and brain, for a brain without a heart is dust and ashes—a something that can never attain—never assist humanity.
Silent, still is the harp until it is magnetized into being by the touch of its lover. Then, and not till then, does it breathe forth sweet music—that ethereal poetry which is the most potent elevator of all the magic arts. The more it is loved, and the more delicate the lingers of the performer, the more sublime is the music.
The bending reeds by the river’s brim stand thoughtful, silent, and still. The breeze passing over them touches their souls, and in an instant they produce the thoughts they have generated in silence, and bend to and fro, giving music to the eyes as well as to the ears of men.
Have we not all in us a hidden life—an invisible Principle like a magical beautiful white bird—which is often unknown to ourselves, but which touches the surface at times and strikes us with the divine spark? To be electrified into being by the sympathetic touch—to soar out of sight until we fain would leap the bounds of clay and enter the joy of the spiritual world—this it is to have lived.
A sympathetic environment is essential to full development of the psychic and mental faculties. In this rich soil of sympathy the poorest seed will reach its fullest development and the richest attain its greatest perfection. For "Perfection" is totality—an entire and complete development—and is dual. Isolation is death. A mass, in the chemical world, is an agglomeration of atoms. Society is an agglomeration of souls. If one atom refuses to fulfill its duty wholly or in part, the rest are thereby impoverished.
As it is a physical impossibility for a single atom to exist, so it is impossible for a human soul to be alone. All are bound by an indissoluble chain, are units in the chain of spiritual life, are "parts of one divided whole."
The soul cannot wander in isolation through space. Though it be great as immensity, eternally flooded with golden thoughts as pure as the ether, it must have aid from a something external or it perisheth.
In Friederich Schiller's "Wallenstein," Thekla ends her conversation with the Swedish Captain with the words "You have seen me in my grief and shown me a sympathizing heart."
The "sympathizing heart" opened the flood gates of sorrow and formed an outlet "for the bitter, burning drops of utter grief, which, had they been absorbed into the system, would have caused decay or death to the soul.
Sympathy is the initial motive power which sets and retains in motion the mental currents of human souls. Without it we are as a brand which lacks fire, as clay without the potter. No soul can attain its highest possibilities without the electrical touch of that sympathy which has the power to vitalize all things within the radius of its influence. The greater the sympathy the greater the range of influence, for sympathy is the essence of personality.
The more we develop, the ampler become our sympathies, until at last, every human being around us, every plant on the hill-slope, every cloud in the unspotted sky, every insect humming before our eyes, can penetrate our souls and find a resting place. We become a part of everything, and everything becomes a part of us. "I am a part of all that I have I met."
True altruistic sympathy (as distinguished from the fictitious, discourteous, so-called sympathy, which is rampant throughout the world) will emanate from its possessor as the fragrance from the rose; it can neither be hidden nor disguised. It is. Therefore words are not only often unnecessary, but superfluous at times, and consequently hurtful, for thought communicates itself without the intermediary of the senses, and our silences are as admirable or more so than our words. It is by our silences chiefly that we manifest ourselves to the world, not what we say, but what we are that counts.
Life for many is one big deep slumber; but surely we, who have a little light and know the great responsibilities of our thought and action, should aid to the utmost, and so, like Huxley, make our little corner of the world better for our being here
"No thought we feel, yet cannot quite express,
No momentary wish or willingness
To make joy purer, or one pain the less,
But carries on ‘the Song that has no Sound.'"