Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Boreham on Our Better Halves

MARRIAGE is simply an obvious and outstanding illustration of one of life's cardinal laws. The world is made up of pairs, and, like the sexes, those pairs are supplementary and complementary.

I have two eyes. They are not in rivalry; each has its function. It is difficult for my right eye to discern the danger that approaches from the opposite direction. My left eye, therefore, stands sentinel on that side of my face. Each member of my body holds in charge powers that it is under obligation to exercise for the good of all its fellow members. The world is built on that plan….

Every man holds in sacred charge certain gifts and graces which he is under solemn obligation to use for the general good. My next-door neighbour is my better half; I cannot do without him….

The best possible illustration is, of course, Commander Verney L. Cameron's story of the two men with leprosy that he met in Central Africa. One had lost his hands, the other his feet. They established a farm together. The leprosy victim who had no hands, and who could not therefore scatter seed, carried his legless brother, who could not else have stirred, upon his back; and thus, each supplying the other's lack, they broke their ground, and sowed their seed, and reaped their crop.

Or go to Scotland. Everybody who has read that wealthiest of all northern biographies will remember the storm scene on the Highland loch. Dr. Norman Macleod was in a small boat with a boatman, some ladies, and ‘a well-known ministerial brother, who was as conspicuous for his weak and puny appearance as Dr. Macleod was for his gigantic size and strength.’ A fearful gale arose. The waves tossed the boat sky-high in their furious sport. The smaller of the two ministers was frightened out of his wits. He suggested that Dr. Macleod should pray for deliverance. The women eagerly seconded the devout proposal. But the breathless old boatman would have none of it. He instantly vetoed the scheme. 'Na, na!’ he cried; 'let the wee mannie pray, but the big one maun tak' an oar if ye dinna a' want to be droned!’ The shrewd old Highlander was simply stating, in a crude way of his own, life's great supplementary law….

Those who have studied carefully the story of the Reformation know how the powers of Luther and Melanchthon dovetailed into each other, and how beautifully each supplemented each. Differing from each other as widely as the poles, each seemed to supply precisely what the other lacked; and neither was quite sure of the wisdom of his own proposal until the sanction of the other had been obtained.

Macaulay has told us, concerning Charles Fox and Sir James Macintosh, that when Fox went to the desk and wrote, and Macintosh took to the platform and spoke, the cause they espoused seemed pitifully impotent; but when Macintosh seized the pen, and Fox mounted the platform, they were simply irresistible. They brought the whole country to their feet. Which, of course, is the story of the big minister and the wee minister over again. The gifts of each exactly supplemented those of the other. Each was the other's better half.

And has not Lord Morley made us familiar with the fine record of Cobden and of Bright? ‘They were,’ he says, ‘the complements of each other. Their gifts differed, so that one exactly covered the ground which the other was predisposed to leave comparatively untouched.’

F W Boreham, ‘Our Better Halves,’ The Luggage of Life (London: Charles H Kelly, 1912), 216-219.

Image: “I have two eyes. They are not in rivalry; each has its function.”