Theodore Parker: A Biography

By Octavius Frothingham Brooks | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII.
FAILING HEALTH.

THE accumulation of work on Theodore Parker had by this time become immense ; for the new tasks never displaced old ones. All he had done he continued doing, quickening his speed as the road lengthened, and bracing his shoulders as the burden increased. The studies were continued, and under less merciful conditions. The books went in a satchel with him to the trains. All day he read in the jostling car, the motion and noise whereof caused an unnatural irritability of brain ; and at night, by the help of a little apparatus he had, the scholar's toil was continued. The sermons were written as conscientiously, and under severer sense of responsibility. His lectures, which were meant to edify and instruct, never to amuse, cost him a world of labor in preparation, and great fatigue in delivery. The parish-work -- visiting the sick, comforting the afflicted, burying the dead -- was done faithfully, with broken heart of spikenard, very precious, poured out on the feet of the humblest. To weep with the weeping, and rejoice with the rejoicing, was to him a ministerial privilege he never wished to forego, or delegate to others ; and his parish included, beside those who regularly attended service at Music Hail, a multitude of strangers who had no claim on him but that of their need, and who hastened to lay their loads, not at his feet, but on his shoulders. He considered himself

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