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What Necessity Knows   By: (1858-1923)

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Note: Images of the original pages are available through Early Canadiana Online. See




Author of "Beggars All," etc

New York Longmans, Green, and Co. 15 East Sixteenth Street Typography by J.S. Cushing & Co., Boston.




One episode of this story may need a word of explanation. It is reported that while the "Millerite" or Adventist excitement of 1843 was agitating certain parts of North America, in one place at least a little band of white robed people ascended a hill in sure expectation of the Second Advent, and patiently returned to be the laughing stock of their neighbours. This tradition, as I heard it in my childhood, was repeated as if it embodied nothing but eccentricity and absurdity, yet it naturally struck a child's mind with peculiar feelings of awe and pathos. Such an event appeared picturesque matter for a story. It was not easy to deal with; for in setting it, as was necessary, in close relation to the gain getting, marrying and giving in marriage, of the people among whom it might occur, it was difficult to avoid either giving it a poetic emphasis which it would not appear to have in reality or degrading it by that superficial truth often called realism, which belittles men. Any unworthiness in the working out of the incident is due, not so much to lack of dignity in the subject, or to lack of material, as to the limitations of the writer's capacity.

Lest any of my countrymen should feel that this story is wanting in sympathy with them, I may point out that it does not happen to deal with Canadians proper, but with immigrants, most of whom are slow to identify themselves with their adopted Country; hence their point of view is here necessarily set forth.

I would take this opportunity to express my obligation to my fellow worker, Miss M.S. Earp, for her constant and sympathetic criticism and help in composition.


EDINBURGH, June, 1893.


" Necessity knows no Law. "




"It is not often that what we call the 'great sorrows of life' cause us the greatest sorrow. Death, acute disease, sudden and great losses these are sometimes easily borne compared with those intricate difficulties which, without name and without appearance, work themselves into the web of our daily life, and, if not rightly met, corrode and tarnish all its brightness."

So spoke Robert Trenholme, Principal of the New College and Rector of the English church at Chellaston, in the Province of Quebec. He sat in his comfortable library. The light of a centre lamp glowed with shaded ray on books in their shelves, but shone strongly on the faces near it. As Trenholme spoke his words had all the charm lent by modulated voice and manner, and a face that, though strong, could light itself easily with a winning smile. He was a tall, rather muscular man; his face had that look of battle that indicates the nervous temperament. He was talking to a member of his congregation who had called to ask advice and sympathy concerning some carking domestic care. The advice had already been given, and the clergyman proceeded to give the sympathy in the form above.

His listener was a sickly looking man, who held by the hand a little boy of five or six years. The child, pale and sober, regarded with incessant interest the prosperous and energetic man who was talking to its father.

"Yes, yes," replied the troubled visitor, "yes, there's some help for the big troubles, but none for the small you're right there."

"No," said the other, "I did not say there was no help. It is just those complex difficulties for which we feel the help of our fellow men is inadequate that ought to teach us to find out how adequate is the help of the Divine Man, our Saviour, to all our needs... Continue reading book >>

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