Friends and Neighbors, or Two Ways of Living in the World
T. S. Arthur
Part 3 out of 5
No fragrant and song-haunted island,
No golden and gem-studded coast
Could win, with its ravishing beauty,
The watcher away from his post.
When the tempest crouched low on the waters,
And fiercely the hurricane swept,
With furled sails, cautiously wearing,
Still onward in safety they kept.
And many sailed well for a season,
When river and sky were serene,
And leisurely swung the light rudder,
'Twixt borders of blossoming green.
But the Storm-King came out from his caverns,
With whirlwind, and lightning, and rain;
And my eyes, that grew dim for a moment,
Saw but the rent canvas again.
Then sorely I wept the ill-fated!
Yea, bitterly wept, for I knew
They had learned but the fair-weather wisdom,
That a moment of trial o'erthrew.
And one in its swift sinking, parted
A placid and sun-bright wave;
Oh, deftly the rock was hidden,
That keepeth that voyager's grave!
And I sorrowed to think how little
Of aid from, a kindly hand,
Might have guided the beautiful vessel
Away from the treacherous strand.
And I watched with a murmur of, blessing,
The few that on either shore
Were setting up signals of warning,
Where many had perished before.
But now, as the sunlight came creeping
Through the half-opened lids of the morn,
Fast faded that wonderful pageant,
Of shadows and drowsiness born.
And no sound could I hear but the sighing
Of winds, in the Valley of Pines;
And the heavy, monotonous dropping
Of dew from the shivering vines.
But all day, 'mid the clashing of Labour,
And the city's unmusical notes,
With thoughts that went seeking the hidden,
I pondered that Vision of Boats.
REGULATION OF THE TEMPER.
THERE is considerable ground for thinking that the opinion very
generally prevails that the temper is something beyond the power of
regulation, control, or government. A good temper, too, if we may
judge from the usual excuses for the want of it, is hardly regarded
in the light of an attainable quality. To be slow in taking offence,
and moderate in the expression of resentment, in which things good
temper consists, seems to be generally reckoned rather among the
gifts of nature, the privileges of a happy constitution, than among
the possible results of careful self-discipline. When we have been
fretted by some petty grievance, or, hurried by some reasonable
cause of offence into a degree of anger far beyond what the occasion
required, our subsequent regret is seldom of a kind for which we are
likely to be much better. We bewail ourselves for a misfortune,
rather than condemn ourselves for a fault. We speak of our unhappy
temper as if it were something that entirely removed the blame from
us, and threw it all upon the peculiar and unavoidable sensitiveness
of our frame. A peevish and irritable temper is, indeed, an
_unhappy_ one; a source of misery to ourselves and to others; but it
is not, in _all_ cases, so valid an excuse for being easily
provoked, as it is usually supposed to be.
A good temper is too important a source of happiness, and an ill
temper too important a source of misery, to be treated with
indifference or hopelessness. The false excuses or modes of
regarding this matter, to which we have referred, should be exposed;
for until their invalidity and incorrectness are exposed, no
efforts, or but feeble ones, will be put forth to regulate an ill
temper, or to cultivate a good one.
We allow that there are great differences of natural constitution.
One who is endowed with a poetical temperament, or a keen sense of
beauty, or a great love of order, or very large ideality, will be
pained by the want or the opposites of these qualities, where one
less amply endowed would suffer no provocation whatever. What would
grate most harshly on the ear of an eminent musician, might not be
noticed at all by one whose musical faculties were unusually small.
The same holds true in regard to some other, besides musical
deficiencies or discords. A delicate and sickly frame will feel
annoyed by what would not at all disturb the same frame in a state
of vigorous health. Particular circumstances, also, may expose some
to greater trials and vexations than others. But, after all this is
granted, the only reasonable conclusion seems to be, that the
attempt to govern the temper is more difficult in some cases than in
others; not that it is, in any case, impossible. It is, at least,
certain that an opinion of its impossibility is an effectual bar
against entering upon it. On the other hand, "believe that you will
succeed, and you will succeed," is a maxim which has nowhere been
more frequently verified than in the moral world. It should be among
the first maxims admitted, and the last abandoned, by every earnest
seeker of his own moral improvement.
Then, too, facts demonstrate that much has been done and can be done
in regulating the worst of tempers. The most irritable or peevish
temper has been restrained by company; has been subdued by interest;
has been awed by fear; has been softened by grief; has been soothed
by kindness. A bad temper has shown itself, in the same individuals,
capable of increase, liable to change, accessible to motives. Such
facts are enough to encourage, in every case, an attempt to govern
the temper. All the miseries of a bad temper, and all the blessings
of a good one, may be attained by an habitual tolerance, concern,
and kindness for others--by an habitual restraint of considerations
and feelings entirely selfish.
To those of our readers who feel moved or resolved by the
considerations we have named to attempt to regulate their temper, or
to cultivate one of a higher order of excellence, we would submit a
few suggestions which may assist them in their somewhat difficult
See, first of all, that you set as high a value on the comfort of
those with whom you have to do as you. do on your own. If you regard
your own comfort _exclusively_, you will not make the allowances
which a _proper_ regard to the happiness of others would lead you to
Avoid, particularly in your intercourse with those to whom it is of
most consequence that your temper should be gentle and
forbearing--avoid raising into undue importance the little failings
which you may perceive in them, or the trifling disappointments
which they may occasion you. If we make it a subject of vexation,
that the beings among whom we tire destined to live, are not
perfect, we must give up all hope of attaining a temper not easily
provoked. A habit of trying everything by the standard of perfection
vitiates the temper more than it improves the understanding, and
disposes the mind to discern faults with an unhappy penetration. I
would not have you shut your eyes to the errors or follies, or
thoughtlessnesses of your friends, but only not to magnify them or
view them microscopically. Regard them in others as you would have
them regard the same things in you, in an exchange of circumstances.
Do not forget to make due allowances for the original constitution
and the manner of education or bringing up, which has been the lot
of those with whom you have to do. Make such excuses for Others as
the circumstances of their constitution, rearing, and youthful
associations, do fairly demand.
Always put the best construction on the motives of others, when
their conduct admits of more than one way of understanding it. In
many cases, where neglect or ill intention seems evident at first
sight, it may prove true that "second thoughts are best." Indeed,
this common slaying is never more likely to prove true than in cases
in which the _first_ thoughts were the dictates of anger And even
when the first thoughts are confirmed by further evidence, yet the
habit of always waiting for complete evidence before we condemn,
must have a calming; and moderating effect upon the temper, while it
will take nothing from the authority of our just censures.
It will further, be a great help to our efforts, as well as our
desires, for the government of the temper, if we consider frequently
and seriously the natural consequences of hasty resentments, angry
replies, rebukes impatiently given or impatiently received, muttered
discontents, sullen looks, and harsh words. It may safely be
asserted that the consequences of these and other ways in which
ill-temper may show itself, are _entirely_ evil. The feelings, which
accompany them in ourselves, and those which they excite in others,
are unprofitable as well as painful. They lessen our own comfort,
and tend often rather to prevent than to promote the improvement of
those with whom we find fault. If we give even friendly and
judicious counsels in a harsh and pettish tone, we excite against
_them_ the repugnance naturally felt to _our manner_. The
consequence is, that the advice is slighted, and the peevish adviser
pitied, despised, or hated.
When we cannot succeed in putting a restraint on our _feelings_ of
anger or dissatisfaction, we can at least check the _expression_ of
those feelings. If our thoughts are not always in our power, our
words and actions and looks may be brought under our command; and a
command over these expressions of our thoughts and feelings will be
found no mean help towards obtaining an increase of power over our
thoughts and feelings themselves. At least, one great good will be
effected: time will be gained; time for reflection; time for
charitable allowances and excuses.
Lastly, seek the help of religion. Consider how you may most
certainly secure the approbation of God. For a good temper, or a
well-regulated temper, _may be_ the constant homage of a truly
religious man to that God, whose love and long-suffering forbearance
surpass all human love and forbearance.
WHO is the most wretched man living? This question might constitute
a very fair puzzle to those of our readers whose kind hearts have
given them, in their own experience, no clue to the true answer. It
is a species of happiness to be rich; to have at one's command an
abundance of the elegancies and luxuries of life. Then he, perhaps,
is the most miserable of men who is the poorest. It is a species of
happiness to be the possessor of learning, fame, or power; and
therefore, perhaps, he is the most miserable man who is the most
ignorant, despised, and helpless. No; there is a man more wretched
than these. We know not where he may be found; but find him where
you will, in a prison or on a throne, steeped in poverty or
surrounded with princely affluence; execrated, as he deserves to be,
or crowned with world-wide applause; that man is the most miserable
whose heart contains the least love for others.
It is a pleasure to be beloved. Who has not felt this? Human
affection is priceless. A fond heart is more valuable than the
Indies. But it is a still greater pleasure to love than to be loved;
the emotion itself is of a higher kind; it calls forth our own
powers into more agreeable exercise, and is independent of the
caprice of others. Generally speaking, if we deserve to be loved,
others will love us, but this is not always the case. The love of
others towards us, is not always in proportion to our real merits;
and it would be unjust to make our highest happiness dependent on
it. But our love for others will always be in proportion to our real
goodness; the more amiable, the more excellent we become, the more
shall we love others; it is right, therefore, that this love should
be made capable of bestowing upon us the largest amount of
happiness. This is the arrangement which the Creator has fixed upon.
By virtue of our moral constitution, to love is to be happy; to hate
is to be wretched.
Hatred is a strong word, and the idea it conveys is very repulsive.
We would hope that few of our readers know by experience what it is
in its full extent. To be a very demon, to combine in ourselves the
highest possible degree of wickedness and misery, nothing more is
needful than to hate with sufficient intensity. But though, happily,
comparatively few persons are fully under the influence of this
baneful passion, how many are under it more frequently and
powerfully than they ought to be? How often do we indulge in
resentful, revengeful feelings, with all of which hatred more or
less mixes itself? Have we not sometimes entertained sentiments
positively malignant towards those who have wounded our vanity or
injured our interests, secretly wishing them ill, or not heartily
wishing them happiness? If so, we need only consult our own
experience to ascertain that such feelings are both sinful and
foolish; they offend our Maker, and render us wretched.
We know a happy man; one who in the midst of the vexations and
crosses of this changing world, is always happy. Meet him anywhere,
and at any time, his features beam with pleasure. Children run to
meet him, and contend for the honour of touching his hand, or laying
hold of the skirt of his coat, as he passes by, so cheerful and
benevolent does he always look. In his own house he seems to reign
absolute, and yet he never uses any weapon more powerful than a kind
word. Everybody who knows him is aware, that, in point of
intelligence, ay, and in physical prowess, too--for we know few men
who can boast a more athletic frame--he is strong as a lion, yet in
his demeanour he is gentle as a lamb. His wife is not of the most
amiable temper, his children are not the most docile, his business
brings him into contact with men of various dispositions; but he
conquers all with the same weapons. What a contrast have we often
thought he presents to some whose physiognomy looks like a piece of
harsh handwriting, in which we can decipher nothing but _self, self,
self_; who seem, both at home and abroad, to be always on the watch
against any infringement of their dignity. Poor men! their dignity
can be of little value if it requires so much care in order to be
maintained. True manliness need take but little pains to procure
respectful recognition. If it is genuine, others will see it, and
respect it. The lion will always be acknowledged as the king of the
beasts; but the ass, though clothed in the lion's skin, may bray
loudly and perseveringly indeed, but he will never keep the forest
From some experience in the homes of working-men, and other homes
too, we are led to think that much of the harsh and discordant
feeling which too often prevails there may be ascribed to a false
conception of what is truly great. It is a very erroneous impression
that despotism is manly. For our part we believe that despotism is
inhuman, satanic, and that wherever it is found--as much in the
bosom of a family, as on the throne of a kingdom. We cannot bring
ourselves to tolerate the inconsistency with which some men will
inveigh against some absolute sovereign, and straight-way enact the
pettiest airs of absolutism in their little empire at home. We have
no private intimacy with "the autocrat of all the Russias," and may,
with all humility, avow that we do not desire to have any; but this
we believe, that out of the thousands who call him a tyrant, it
would be no difficult matter to pick scores who are as bad, if not
worse. Let us remember that it is not a great empire which
constitutes a great tyrant. Tyranny must be measured by the strength
of those imperious and malignant passions from which it flows, and
carrying this rule along with us, it would not surprise us, if we
found the greatest tyrant in the world in some small cottage, with
none to oppress but a few unoffending children, and a helpless
woman. O! when shall we, be just!--when shall we cease to prate
about wrongs inflicted by others, and magnified by being beheld
through the haze of distance, and seek to redress those which lie at
our own doors, and to redress which we shall only have to prevail
upon ourselves to be just and gentle! Arbitrary power is always
associated either with cruelty, or conscious weakness. True
greatness is above the petty arts of tyranny. Sometimes much
domestic suffering may arise from a cause which is easily confounded
with a tyrannical disposition--we refer to an exaggerated sense of
justice. This is the abuse of a right feeling, and requires to be
kept in vigilant check. Nothing is easier than to be one-sided in
judging of the actions of others. How agreeable the task of applying
the line and plummet! How quiet and complete the assumption of our
own superior excellence which we make in doing it! But if the task
is in some respects easy, it is most difficult if we take into
account the necessity of being just in our decisions. In domestic
life especially, in which so much depends on circumstances, and the
highest questions often relate to mere matters of expediency, how
easy it is to be "always finding fault," if we neglect to take
notice of explanatory and extenuating circumstances! Anybody with a
tongue and a most moderate complement of brains can call a thing
stupid, foolish, ill-advised, and so forth; though it might require
a larger amount of wisdom than the judges possessed to have done the
thing better. But what do we want with captious judges in the bosom
of a family? The scales of household polity are the scales of love,
and he who holds them should be a sympathizing friend; ever ready to
make allowance for failures, ingenious in contriving apologies, more
lavish of counsels than rebukes, and less anxious to overwhelm a
person with a sense of deficiency than to awaken in the bosom, a
conscious power of doing better. One thing is certain: if any member
of a family conceives it his duty to sit continually in the censor's
chair, and weigh in the scales of justice all that happens in the
domestic commonwealth, domestic happiness is out of the question. It
is manly to extenuate and forgive, but a crabbed and censorious
spirit is contemptible.
There is much more misery thrown into the cup of life by domestic
unkindness than we might at first suppose. In thinking of the evils
endured by society from malevolent passions of individuals, we are
apt to enumerate only the more dreadful instances of crime: but what
are the few murders which unhappily pollute the soil of this
Christian land--what, we ask, is the suffering they occasion, what
their demoralizing tendency--when compared with the daily effusions
of ill-humour which sadden, may we not fear, many thousand homes? We
believe that an incalculably greater number are hurried to the grave
by habitual unkindness than by sudden violence; the slow poison of
churlishness and neglect, is of all poisons the most destructive. If
this is true, we want a new definition for the most flagrant of all
crimes: a definition which shall leave out the element of time, and
call these actions the same--equally hateful, equally diabolical,
equally censured by the righteous government of Heaven--which
proceed from the same motives, and lead to the same result, whether
they be done in a moment, or spread out through a series of years.
Habitual unkindness is demoralizing as well as cruel. Whenever it
fails to break the heart, it hardens it. To take a familiar
illustration: a wife who is never addressed by her husband in tones
of kindness, must cease to love him if she wishes to be happy. It is
her only alternative. Thanks to the nobility of our nature, she does
not always take it. No; for years she battles with cruelty, and
still presses with affection the hand which smites her, but it is
fearfully at her own expense. Such endurance preys upon her health,
and hastens her exit to the asylum of the grave. If this is to be
avoided, she must learn to forget, what woman should never be
tempted to forget, the vows, the self-renunciating devotedness of
impassioned youth; she must learn to oppose indifference, to neglect
and repel him with a heart as cold as his own. But what a tragedy
lies involved in a career like this! We gaze on something infinitely
more terrible than murder; we see our nature abandoned to the mercy
of malignant passions, and the sacred susceptibilities which were
intended to fertilize with the waters of charity the pathway of
life, sending forth streams of bitterest gall. A catalogue of such
cases, faithfully compiled, would eclipse, in turpitude and horror,
all the calendars of crime that have ever sickened the attention of
The obligations of gentleness and kindness are extensive as the
claims to manliness; these three qualities must go together. There
are some cases, however, in which such obligations are of special
force. Perhaps a precept here will be presented most appropriately
under the guise of an example. We have now before our mind's eye a
couple, whose marriage tie was, a few months since, severed by
death. The husband was a strong, hale, robust sort of a man, who
probably never knew a day's illness in the course of his life, and
whose sympathy on behalf of weakness or suffering in others it was
exceedingly difficult to evoke; while his partner was the very
reverse, by constitution weak and ailing, but withal a woman of whom
any man might and ought to have been proud. Her elegant form, her
fair transparent skin, the classical contour of her refined and
expressive face, might have led a Canova to have selected her as a
model of feminine beauty. But alas! she was weak; she could not work
like other women; her husband could not _boast_ among his shopmates
how much she contributed to the maintenance of the family, and how
largely she could afford to dispense with the fruit of his labours.
Indeed, with a noble infant in her bosom, and the cares of a
household resting entirely upon her, she required help herself, and
at least she needed, what no wife can dispense with, but she least
of all--_sympathy_, forbearance, and all those tranquilizing virtues
which flow from a heart of kindness. She least of all could bear a
harsh look; to be treated daily with cold, disapproving reserve, a
petulant dissatisfaction could not but be death to her. We will not
say it _was_--enough that she is dead. The lily bent before the
storm, and at last was crushed by it. We ask but one question, in
order to point the moral:--In the circumstances we have delineated,
what course of treatment was most consonant with a manly spirit;
that which was actually pursued, or some other which the reader can
Yes, to love is to be happy and to make happy, and to love is the
very spirit of true manliness. We speak not of exaggerated passion
and false sentiment; we speak not of those bewildering,
indescribable feelings, which under that name, often monopolize for
a time the guidance of the youthful heart; but we speak of that pure
emotion which is benevolence intensified, and which, when blended
with intelligence, can throw the light of joyousness around the
manifold relations of life. Coarseness, rudeness, tyranny, are so
many forms of brute power; so many manifestations of what it is
man's peculiar glory not to be; but kindness and gentleness can
never cease to be MANLY.
Count not the days that have lightly flown,
The years that were vainly spent;
Nor speak of the hours thou must blush to own,
When thy spirit stands before the Throne,
To account for the talents lent.
But number the hours redeemed from sin,
The moments employed for Heaven;--
Oh few and evil thy days have been,
Thy life, a toilsome but worthless scene,
For a nobler purpose given.
Will the shade go back on the dial plate?
Will thy sun stand still on his way?
Both hasten on; and thy spirit's fate
Rests on the point of life's little date:--
Then live while 'tis called to-day.
Life's waning hours, like the Sibyl's page,
As they lessen, in value rise;
Oh rouse thee and live! nor deem that man's age
Stands on the length of his pilgrimage,
But in days that are truly wise.
"HOW finely she looks!" said Margaret Winne, as a lady swept by them
in the crowd; "I do not see that time wears upon her beauty at all."
"What, Bell Walters!" exclaimed her companion. "Are you one of those
who think her such a beauty?"
"I think her a very fine-looking woman, certainly," returned Mrs.
Winne; "and, what is more, I think her a very fine woman."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Mrs. Hall; "I thought you were no friends?"
"No," replied the first speaker; "but that does not make us
"But I tell you she positively dislikes you, Margaret," said Mrs.
Hall. "It is only a few days since I knew of her saying that you
were a bold, impudent woman, and she did not like you at all."
"That is bad," said Margaret, with a smile; "for I must confess that
I like her."
"Well," said her companion, "I am sure I could never like any one
who made such unkind speeches about me."
"I presume she said no more than she thought," said Margaret,
"Well, so much the worse!" exclaimed Mrs. Hall, in surprise. "I hope
you do not think that excuses the matter at all?"
"Certainly, I do. I presume she has some reason for thinking as she
does; and, if so, it was very natural she should express her
"Well, you are very cool and candid about it, I must say. What
reason have you given her, pray, for thinking you were bold and
"None, that I am aware of," replied Mrs. Winne, "but I presume she
thinks I have. I always claim her acquaintance, when we meet, and I
have no doubt she would much rather I would let it drop."
"Why don't you, then? I never knew her, and never had any desire for
her acquaintance. She was no better than you when you were girls,
and I don't think her present good fortune need make her so very
"I do not think she exhibits any more haughtiness than most people
would under the same circumstances. Some would have dropped the
acquaintance at once, without waiting for me to do it. Her social
position is higher than mine, and it annoys her to have me meet her
as an equal, just I used to do."
"You do it to annoy her, then?"
"Not by any means. I would much rather she would feel, as I do, that
the difference between us is merely conventional, and might bear to
be forgotten on the few occasions when accident throws us together.
But she does not, and I presume it is natural. I do not know how my
head might be turned, if I had climbed up in the world as rapidly as
she has done. As it is, however, I admire her too much to drop her
acquaintance just yet, as long as she leaves it to me."
"Really, Margaret, I should have supposed you had too much spirit to
intrude yourself upon a person that you knew wished to shake you
off; and I do not see how you can admire one that you know to be so
"I do not admire her on account of her pride, certainly, though it
is a quality that sits very gracefully upon her," said Margaret
Winne; and she introduced another topic of conversation, for she did
not hope to make her companion understand the motives that
"Bold and impudent!" said Margaret, to herself, as she sat alone, in
her own apartment. "I knew she thought it, for I have seen it in her
looks; but she always treats me well externally, and I hardly
thought she would say it. I know she was vexed with herself for
speaking to me, one day, when she was in the midst of a circle of
her fashionable acquaintances. I was particularly ill-dressed, and I
noticed that they stared at me; but I had no intention, then, of
throwing myself in her way. Well," she continued, musingly, "I am
not to be foiled with one rebuff. I know her better than she knows
me, for the busy world has canvassed her life, while they have never
meddled with my own: and I think there are points of contact enough
between us for us to understand each other, if we once found an
opportunity. She stands in a position which I shall never occupy,
and she has more power and strength than I; else she had never stood
where she does, for she has shaped her fortunes by her own unaided
will. Her face was not her fortune, as most people suppose, but her
mind. She has accomplished whatever she has undertaken, and she can
accomplish much more, for her resources are far from being
developed. Those around her may remember yet that she was not always
on a footing with them; but they will not do so long. She will be
their leader, for she was born to rule. Yes; and she queens it most
proudly among them. It were a pity to lose sight of her stately,
graceful dignity. I regard her very much as I would some beautiful
exotic, and her opinion of me affects me about as much as if she
were the flower, and not the mortal. And yet I can never see her
without wishing that the influence she exerts might be turned into a
better channel. She has much of good about her, and I think that it
needs but a few hints to make life and its responsibilities appear
to her as they do to me. I have a message for her ear, but she must
not know that it was intended for her. She has too much pride of
place to receive it from me, and too much self-confidence to listen
knowingly to the suggestions of any other mind than her own.
Therefore, I will seek the society of Isabel Walters whenever I can,
without appearing intrusive, until she thinks me worthy her notice,
or drops me altogether. My talent lies in thinking, but she has all
the life and energy I lack, and would make an excellent actor to my
thought, and would need no mentor when her attention was once
aroused. My usefulness must lie in an humble sphere, but hers--she
can carry it wherever she will. It will be enough for my single life
to accomplish, if, beyond the careful training of my own family, I
can incite her to a development of her powers of usefulness. People
will listen to her who will pay no attention to me; and, besides,
she has the time and means to spare, which I have not."
"Everywhere, in Europe, they were talking of you, Mrs. Walters,"
said a lady, who had spent many years abroad, "and adopting your
plans for vagrant and industrial schools, and for the management of
hospitals and asylums. I have seen your name in the memorials laid
before government in various foreign countries. You have certainly
achieved a world-wide reputation. Do tell me how your attention came
first to be turned to that sort of thing? I supposed you were one of
our fashionable women, who sought simply to know how much care and
responsibility they could lawfully avoid, and how high a social
station it was possible to attain. I am sure something must have
happened to turn your life into so different a channel."
"Nothing in particular, I assure you," returned Mrs. Walters. "I
came gradually to perceive the necessity there was that some one
should take personal and decisive action in those things that it was
so customary to neglect. Fond as men are of money, it was far easier
to reach their purses than their minds. Our public charities were
quite well endowed, but no one gave them that attention that they
needed, and thus evils had crept in that were of the highest
importance. My attention was attracted to it in my own vicinity at
first; and others saw it as well as I, but it was so much of
everybody's business that everybody let it alone. I followed the
example for awhile, but it seemed as much my duty to act as that of
any other person; and though it is little I have done, I think that,
in that little, I have filled the place designed for me by
"Well, really, Mrs. Walters, you were one of the last persons I
should have imagined to be nicely balancing a point of duty, or
searching out the place designed for them by Providence. I must
confess myself at fault in my judgment of character for once."
"Indeed, madam," replied Mrs. Walters, "I have no doubt you judged
me very correctly at the time you knew me. My first ideas of the
duties and responsibilities of life were aroused by Margaret Winne;
and I recollect that my intimacy with her commenced after you left
"Margaret Winne? Who was she? Not the wife of that little Dr. Winne
we used to hear of occasionally? They attended the same church with
us, I believe?"
"Yes; she was the one. We grew up together, and were familiar with
each other's faces from childhood; but this was about all. She was
always in humble circumstances, as I had myself been in early life;
and, after my marriage, I used positively to dislike her, and to
dread meeting her, for she was the only one of my former
acquaintances who met me on the same terms as she had always done. I
thought she wished to remind me that we were once equals in station;
but I learned, when I came to know her well, how far she was above
so mean a thought. I hardly know how I came first to appreciate her,
but we were occasionally thrown in contact, and her sentiments were
so beautiful--so much above the common stamp--that I could not fail
to be attracted by her. She was a noble woman. The world knows few
like her. So modest and retiring--with an earnest desire to do all
the good in the world of which she was capable, but with no ambition
to shine. Well fitted as she was, to be an ornament in any station
of society, she seemed perfectly content to be the idol of her own
family, and known to few besides. There were few subjects on which
she had not thought, and her clear perceptions went at once to the
bottom of a subject, so that she solved simply many a question on
which astute philosophers had found themselves at fault. I came at
last to regard her opinion almost as an oracle. I have often
thought, since her death, that it was her object to turn my life
into that channel to which it has since been devoted, but I do not
know. I had never thought of the work that has since occupied me at
the time of her death, but I can see now how cautiously and
gradually she led me among the poor, and taught me to sympathize
with their sufferings, and gave me, little by little, a clue to the
evils that had sprung up in the management of our public charities.
She was called from her family in the prime of life, but they who
come after her do assuredly rise up and call her blessed. She has
left a fine family, who will not soon forget, the instructions of
"Ah! yes, there it is, Mrs. Walters. A woman's sphere, after all, is
at home. One may do a great deal of good in public, no doubt, as you
have done; but don't you think that, while you have devoted yourself
so untiringly to other affairs, you have been obliged to neglect
your own family in order to gain time for this? One cannot live two
lives at once, you know."
"No, madam, certainly we cannot live two lives at once, but we can
glean a much larger harvest from the one which is, bestowed upon us
than we are accustomed to think. I do not, by any means, think that
I have ever neglected my own family in the performance of other
duties, and I trust my children are proving, by their hearty
co-operation with me, that I am not mistaken. Our first duty,
certainly is at home, and I determined, at the outset, that nothing
should call me from the performance of this first charge. I do not
think anything can excuse a mother from devoting a large portion of
her life in personal attention to the children God has given her.
But I can assure you that, to those things which I have done of
which the world could take cognisance, I have given far less time
than I used once to devote to dress and amusement, I found, by
systematizing everything, that my time was more than doubled; and,
certainly, I was far better fitted to attend properly to my own
family, when my eyes, were opened to the responsibilities of life,
than when my thoughts were wholly occupied by fashion and display."
ANTIDOTE FOR MELANCHOLY.
"AH, friend K----, good-morning to you; I'm really happy to see you
looking so cheerful. Pray, to what unusual circumstance may we be
indebted for this happy, smiling face of yours, this morning?" (Our
friend K----had been, unfortunately, of a, very desponding and
somewhat of a choleric turn of mind, previously.)
"Really, is the change so perceptible, then? Well, my dear sir, you
shall have the secret; for, happy as I appear--and be assured, my
appearances are by no means deceptive, for I never felt more happy
in my life--it will still give me pleasure to inform you, and won't
take long, either. It is simply this; I have made a whole family
"Indeed! Why, you have discovered a truly valuable: recipe for
blues, then, which may be used _ad libitum_, eh, K----?"
"You may well say that. But, really, my friend, I feel no little
mortification at not making so simple and valuable a discovery at an
earlier period of my life, Heaven knows," continued K----, "I have
looked for contentment everywhere else. First, I sought for wealthy
in the gold mines of California, thinking that was the true source
of all earthly joys; but after obtaining it, I found myself with
such a multiplicity of cares and anxieties, that I was really more
unhappy than ever. I then sought for pleasure in travelling. This
answered somewhat the purpose of dissipating cares, &c., so long as
it lasted; but, dear me, it gave no permanent satisfaction. After
seeing the whole world, I was as badly off as Alexander the Great.
He cried for another world to _conquer_, and I cried for another
world to _see_."
The case of our friend, I imagine, differs not materially from that
of a host of other seekers of contentment in this productive world.
Like "blind leaders of the blind," our invariable fate is to go
astray in the universal race for happiness. How common is it, after
seeking for it in every place but the right one, for the selfish man
to lay the whole blame upon this fine world--as if anybody was to
blame but himself. Even some professors of religion are too apt to
libel the world. "Well, this is a troublesome world, to make the
best of it," is not an uncommon expression; neither is it a truthful
one. "Troubles, disappointments, losses, crosses, sickness, and
death, make up the sum and substance of our existence here," add
they, with tremendous emphasis, as if they had no hand in producing
the sad catalogue. The trouble is, we set too high a value on our
own merits; we imagine ourselves deserving of great favours and
privileges, while we are doing nothing to merit them. In this
respect, we are not altogether unlike the young man in the parable,
who, by-the-by, was also a professor--he professed very loudly of
having done all those good things "from his youth up." But when the
command came, "go sell all thou hast, and give to the poor," &c., it
soon took the conceit out of him.
In this connexion, there are two or three seemingly important
considerations, which I feel some delicacy in touching upon here.
However, in the kindest possible spirit, I would merely remark, that
there is a very large amount of wealth in the Church--by this I
include its wealthy members, of course; and refer to no particular
denomination; by Church, I mean all Christian denominations. Now, in
connexion with this fact, such a question as this arises in my
mind--and I put it, not, for the purpose of fault-finding, for I
don't know that I have a right view of the matter, but merely for
the consideration of those who are fond of hoarding up their earthly
gains, viz.: Suppose the modern Church was composed of such
professors as the self-denying disciples of our Saviour,--with their
piety, simplicity, and this wealth; what, think you, would be the
consequence? Now I do not intend to throw out any such flings as,
"comparisons are odious"--"this is the modern Christian age"--"the
age of Christian privileges," and all that sort of nonsense. Still,
I am rather inclined to the opinion, that if we were all--in and out
of the Church--disposed to live up to, or carry out what we
professedly know to be right, it would be almost as difficult to
find real trouble, as it is now to find real happiness.
The sources of contentment and discontentment are discoverable,
therefore, without going into a metaphysical examination of the
subject. Just in proportion as we happen to discharge, or neglect
known duties, are we, according to my view, happy or miserable on
earth. Philosophy tells us that our happiness and well-being depends
upon a conformity to certain unalterable laws--moral, physical, and
organic--which act upon the intellectual, moral, and material
universe, of which man is a part, and which determine, or regulate
the growth, happiness, and well-being of all organic beings. These
views, when reduced to their simple meaning, amount to the same
thing, call it by what name we will. Duties, of course, imply legal
or moral obligations, which we are certainly legally or morally
bound to pay, perform, or discharge. And certain it is, there is no
getting over them--they are as irresistible as Divine power, as
universal as Divine presence, as permanent as Divine existence, and
no art nor cunning of man can disconnect unhappiness from
transgressing them. How necessary to our happiness, then, is it, not
only to know, but to perform our whole duty?
One of the great duties of man in this life, and, perhaps, the most
neglected, is that of doing good, or benefiting one another. That
doing good is clearly a duty devolving upon man, there can be no
question. The benevolent Creator, in placing man in the world,
endowed him with mental and physical energies, which clearly denote
that he is to be active in his day and generation.
Active in what? Certainly not in mischief, for that would not be
consistent with Divine goodness. Neither should we suppose that we
are here for our own sakes simply. Such an idea would be
presumptuous. For what purpose, then, was man endowed with all these
facilities of mind and body, but to do good and glorify his Maker?
True philosophy teaches that benevolence was not only the design of
the Creator in all His works, but the fruits to be expected from
them. The whole infinite contrivances of everything above, around,
and within us, are directed to certain benevolent issues, and all
the laws of nature are in perfect harmony with this idea.
That such is the design of man may also be inferred from the
happiness which attends every good action, and the misery of
discontentment which attends those who not only do wrong, but are
useless to themselves and to society. Friend K----'s case, above
quoted, is a fair illustration of this truth.
Now, then, if it is our duty to do all the good we can, and I think
this will be admitted, particularly by the Christian, and this be
measured by our means and opportunity, then there are many whom
Providence has blessed with the means and opportunity of doing a
very great amount of good. And if it be true, as it manifestly is,
that "it is more blessed to give than receive," then has Providence
also blessed them with very great privileges. The privilege of
giving liberally, and thus obtaining for themselves the greater
blessing, which is the result of every benevolent action, the simple
satisfaction with ourselves which follows a good act, or
consciousness of having done our duty in relieving a
fellow-creature, are blessings indeed, which none but the good or
benevolent can realize. Such kind spirits are never cast down. Their
hearts always light and cheerful--rendered so by their many kind
offices,--they can always enjoy their neighbours, rich or poor, high
or low, and love them too; and with a flow of spirits which bespeak
a heart all right within, they make all glad and happy around them.
Doing good is an infallible antidote for melancholy. When the heart
seems heavy, and our minds can light upon nothing but little naughty
perplexities, everything going wrong, no bright spot or relief
anywhere for our crazy thoughts, and we are finally wound up in a
web of melancholy, depend upon it there is nothing, nothing which
can dispel this angry, ponderous, and unnatural cloud from our
_rheumatic minds_ and _consciences_ like a charity visit--to give
liberally to those in need of succour, the poor widow, the
suffering, sick, and poor, the aged invalid, the lame, the blind,
&c., &c.; all have a claim upon your bounty, and how they will bless
you and love you for it--anyhow, they will thank kind Providence for
your mission of love. He that makes one such visit will make another
and another; he can't very well get weary in such well-doing, for
his is the greater blessing. It is a blessing indeed: how the heart
is lightened, the soul enlarged, the mind improved, and even health;
for the mind being liberated from perplexities, the body is at rest,
the nerves in repose, and the blood, equalized, courses freely
through the system, giving strength, vigour, and equilibrium to the
whole complicated machinery. Thus we can think clearer, love better,
enjoy life, and be thankful for it.
What a beautiful arrangement it is that we can, by doing good to
others, do so much good to ourselves! The wealthy classes, who "rise
above society like clouds above the earth, to diffuse an abundant
dew," should not forget this fact. The season has now about arrived,
when the good people of all classes will be most busily engaged in
these delightful duties. The experiment is certainly worth trying by
all. If all those desponding individuals, whose chief comfort is to
growl at this "troublesome world," will but take the hint, look
trouble full in the face. and relieve it, they will, like friend
K----, feel much better.
It may be set down as a generally correct axiom, (with some few
exceptions, perhaps, such as accidents, and the deceptions and
cruelties of those whom we injudiciously select for friends and
confidants, from our want of discernment), that life is much what we
make it, and so is the world.
THE SORROWS OF A WEALTHY CITIZEN.
AH me! Am I really a rich man, or am I not? That is the question. I
am sure I don't feel rich; and yet, here I am written down among the
"wealthy citizens" as being worth seventy thousand dollars! How the
estimate was made, or who furnished the data, is all a mystery to
me. I am sure I wasn't aware of the fact before. "Seventy thousand
dollars!" That sounds comfortable, doesn't it? Seventy thousand
dollars!--But where is it? Ah! There is the rub! How true it is that
people always know more about you than you do yourself.
Before this unfortunate book came out ("The Wealthy Citizens of
Philadelphia"), I was jogging on very quietly. Nobody seemed to be
aware of the fact that I was a rich man, and I had no suspicion of
the thing myself. But, strange to tell, I awoke one morning and
found myself worth seventy thousand dollars! I shall never forget
that day. Men who had passed me in the street with a quiet, familiar
nod, now bowed with a low salaam, or lifted their hats
deferentially, as I encountered them on the _pave_.
"What's the meaning of all this?" thought I. "I haven't stood up to
be shot at, nor sinned against innocence and virtue. I haven't been
to Paris. I don't wear moustaches. What has given me this
And, musing thus, I pursued my way in quest of money to help me out
with some pretty heavy payments. After succeeding, though with some
difficulty in obtaining what I wanted, I returned to my store about
twelve o'clock. I found a mercantile acquaintance awaiting me, who,
without many preliminaries, thus stated his business:
"I want," said he, with great coolness, "to get a loan of six or
seven thousand dollars; and I don't know of any one to whom I can
apply with more freedom and hope of success than yourself. I think I
can satisfy you, fully, in regard to security.
"My dear sir," replied I, "if you only wanted six or seven hundred
dollars, instead of six or seven thousand dollars, I could not
accommodate you. I have just come in from a borrowing expedition
I was struck with the sudden change in the man's countenance. He was
not only disappointed, but offended. He did not believe my
statement. In his eyes, I had merely resorted to a subterfuge, or,
rather, told a lie, because I did not wish to let him have my money.
Bowing with cold formality, he turned away and left my place of
business. His manner to me has been reserved ever since.
On the afternoon of that day, I was sitting in the back part of my
store musing on some, matter of business, when I saw a couple of
ladies enter. They spoke to one of my clerks, and he directed them
back to where I was taking things comfortably in an old arm-chair.
"Mr. G----, I believe?" said the elder of the two ladies, with a
I had already arisen, and to this question, or rather affirmation, I
"Mr. G----," resumed the lady, producing a small book as she spoke,
"we are a committee, appointed to make collections in this district
for the purpose of setting up a fair in aid of the funds of the
Esquimaux Missionary Society. It is the design of the ladies who
have taken this matter in hand to have a very large collection of
articles, as the funds of the society are entirely exhausted. To the
gentlemen of our district, and especially to those who leave been
liberally _blessed with this world's goods_"--this was particularly
emphasized--"we look for important aid. Upon you, sir, we have
called first, in order that you may head the subscription, and thus
set an example of liberality to others."
And the lady handed me the book in the most "of course" manner in
the world, and with the evident expectation that I would put down at
Of course I was cornered, and must do something, I tried to be bland
and polite; but am inclined to think that I failed in the effort. As
for fairs, I never did approve of them. But that was nothing. The
enemy had boarded me so suddenly and so completely, that nothing,
was left for me but to surrender at discretion, and I did so with as
good grace as possible. Opening my desk, I took out a five dollar
bill and presented it; to the elder of the two ladies, thinking that
I was doing very well indeed. She took the money, but was evidently
disappointed; and did not even ask me to head the list with my name.
"How money does harden the heart!" I overheard one of my fair
visiters say to the other, in a low voices but plainly intended for
my edification, as they walked off with their five dollar bill.
"Confound your impudence!" I said to myself, thus taking my revenge
out of them. "Do you think I've got nothing else to do with my money
but scatter it to the four winds?"
And I stuck my thumbs firmly in the armholes of my waistcoat, and
took a dozen turns up and down my store, in order to cool off.
"Confound your impudence!" I then repeated, and quietly sat down
again in the old arm-chair.
On the next day I had any number of calls from money-hunters.
Business men, who had never thought of asking me for loans, finding
that I was worth seventy thousand dollars, crowded in upon me for
temporary favours, and, when disappointed in their expectations,
couldn't seem to understand it. When I spoke of being "hard up"
myself, they looked as if they didn't clearly comprehend what I
A few days after the story of my wealth had gone abroad, I was
sitting, one evening, with my family, when I was informed that a
lady was in the parlour, and wished to see me.
"A lady!" said I.
"Yes, sir," replied the servant.
"Is she alone?"
"What does she want?"
"She did not say, sir."
"Very well. Tell her I'll be down in a few moments."
When I entered the parlour, I found a woman, dressed in mourning,
with her veil closely drawn.
"Mr. G----?" she said, in a low, sad voice.
I bowed, and took a place upon the sofa where she was sitting, and
from which she had not risen upon my entrance.
"Pardon the great liberty I have taken," she began, after a pause of
embarrassment, and in an unsteady voice. "But, I believe I have not
mistaken your character for sympathy and benevolence, nor erred in
believing that your hand is ever ready to respond to the generous
impulses of our heart."
I bowed again, and my visiter went on.
"My object in calling upon you I will briefly state. A year ago my
husband died. Up to that time I had never known the want of anything
that money could buy. He was a merchant of this city, and supposed
to be in good circumstances. But he left an insolvent estate; and
now, with five little ones to care for, educate, and support, I have
parted with nearly my last dollar, and have not a single friend to
whom I can look for aid."
There was a deep earnestness and moving pathos in the tones of the
woman's voice, that went to my heart. She paused for a few moments,
overcome with her feelings, and then resumed:--
"One in an extremity like mine, sir, will do many things from which,
under other circumstances she should shrink. This is my only excuse
for troubling you at the present time. But I cannot see my little
family in want without an effort to sustain them; and, with a little
aid, I see my way clear to do so. I was well educated, and feel not
only competent, but willing to undertake a school. There is one, the
teacher of which being in bad health, wishes to give it up, and if I
can get the means to buy out her establishment, will secure an ample
and permanent income for my family. To aid me, sir, in doing this, I
now make an appeal to you. I know you are able, and I believe you
are willing to put forth your hand and save my children from want,
and, it may be, separation."
The woman still remained closely veiled; I could not, therefore, see
her face. But I could perceive that she was waiting with trembling
suspense for my answer. Heaven knows my heart responded freely to
"How much will it take to purchase this establishment?" I inquired.
"Only a thousand dollars," she replied.
I was silent. A thousand dollars!
"I do not wish it, sir, as a gift," she said "only as a loan. In a
year or two I will be able to repay it."
"My dear madam," was my reply, "had I the ability most gladly would
I meet your wishes. But, I assure you I have not. A thousand dollars
taken from my business would destroy it."
A deep sigh, that was almost a groan, came up from the breast of the
stranger, and her head dropped low upon her bosom. She seemed to
have fully expected the relief for which she applied; and to be
stricken to the earth by my words! We were both unhappy.
"May I presume to ask your name, madam?" said I, after a pause.
"It would do no good to mention it," she replied, mournfully. "It
has cost me a painful effort to come to you; and now that my hope
has proved, alas! in vain, I must beg the privilege of still
remaining a stranger."
She arose, as she said this. Her figure was tall and dignified.
Dropping me a slight courtesy, she was turning to go away, when I
"But, madam, even if I have not the ability to grant your request, I
may still have it in my power to aid you in this matter. I am ready
to do all I can; and, without doubt, among the friends of your
husband will be found numbers to step forward and join in affording
you the assistance so much desired, when they are made aware of your
The lady made an impatient gesture, as if my words were felt as a
mockery or an insult, and turning from me, again walked from the
room with a firm step. Before I could recover myself, she had passed
into the street, and I was left standing alone. To this day I have
remained in ignorance of her identity. Cheerfully would I have aided
her to the extent of my ability to do so. Her story touched my
feelings and awakened my liveliest sympathies, and if, on learning
her name and making proper inquiries into her circumstances, I had
found all to be as she had stated, I would have felt it a duty to
interest myself in her behalf, and have contributed in aid of the
desired end to the extent of my ability. But she came to me under
the false idea that I had but to put my hand in my pocket, or write
a check upon the bank, and lo! a thousand dollars were forthcoming.
And because I did not do this, she believed me unfeeling, selfish,
and turned from me mortified, disappointed, and despairing.
I felt sad for weeks after this painful interview. On the very next
morning I received a letter from an artist, in which he spoke of the
extremity of his circumstances, and begged me to purchase a couple
of pictures. I called at his rooms, for I could not resist his
appeal. The pictures did not strike me as possessing much artistic
"What do you ask for them?" I inquired.
"I refused a hundred dollars for the pair. But I am compelled to
part with them now, and you shall have them for eighty."
I had many other uses for eighty dollars, and therefore shook my
head. But, as he looked disappointed, I offered to take one of the
pictures at forty dollars. To this he agreed. I paid the money, and
the picture was sent home. Some days afterward, I was showing it to
"What did you pay for it?" he asked.
"Forty dollars," I replied.
The friend smiled strangely.
"What's the matter?" said I.
"He offered it to me for twenty-five."
"He asked me eighty for this and another, and said he had refused a
hundred for the pair."
"He lied though. He thought, as you were well off, that he must ask
you a good stiff price, or you wouldn't buy."
"He got ahead of you, certainly."
"But it's the last time," said I, angrily.
And so things went on. Scarcely a day passed in which my fame as a
wealthy citizen did not subject me to some kind of experiment from
people in want of money. If I employed a porter for any service and
asked what was to pay, after the work was done, ten chances to one
that he didn't touch his hat and reply,
"Anything that you please, sir," in the hope that I, being a rich
man, would be ashamed to offer him less than about four times his
regular price. Poor people in abundance called upon me for aid; and
all sorts of applications to give or lend money met me at every
turn. And when I, in self-defence, begged off as politely as
possible, hints gentle or broad, according to the characters or
feelings of those who came, touching the hardening and perverting
influence of wealth, were thrown out for my especial edification.
And still the annoyance continues. Nobody but myself doubts the fact
that I am worth from seventy to a hundred thousand dollars, and I
am, therefore, considered allowable game for all who are too idle or
prodigal to succeed in the world; or as Nature's almoner to all who
are suffering from misfortunes.
Soon after the publication to which I have alluded was foisted upon
our community as a veritable document, I found myself a secular
dignitary in the church militant. Previously I had been only a
pew-holder, and an unambitious attendant upon the Sabbath
ministrations of the Rev. Mr----. But a new field suddenly opened
before me; I was a man of weight and influence, and must be used for
what I was worth. It is no joke, I can assure the reader, when I
tell them that the way my pocket suffered was truly alarming. I
don't know, but I have seriously thought, sometimes, that if I
hadn't kicked loose from my dignity, I would have been gazetted as a
bankrupt long before this time.
Soon after sending in my resignation as vestryman or deacon, I will
not say which, I met the Rev. Mr----, and the way he talked to me
about the earth being the "Lord's and the fullness thereof;" about
our having the poor always with us; about the duties of charity, and
the laying up of treasure in heaven, made me ashamed to go to church
for a month to come. I really began to fear that I was a doomed man
and that the reputation of being a "wealthy citizen" was going to
sink me into everlasting perdition. But I am getting over that
feeling now. My cash-book, ledger, and bill-book set me right again;
and I can button up my coat and draw my purse-strings, when guided
by the dictates of my own judgment, without a fear of the threatened
final consequences before my eyes. Still, I am the subject of
perpetual annoyance from all sorts of people, who will persist in
believing that I am made of money; and many of these approach me in,
such a way as to put it almost entirely out of my power to say "no."
They come with appeals for small amounts, as loans, donations to
particular charities, or as the price of articles that I do not
want, but which I cannot well refuse to take. I am sure that, since
I have obtained my present unenviable reputation, it hasn't cost me
a cent less than two thousand, in money given away, loaned never to
be returned, and in the purchase of things that I never would have
thought of buying.
And, with all this, I have made more enemies than I ever before had
in my life, and estranged half of my friends and acquaintances.
Seriously, I have it in contemplation to "break" one of these days,
in order to satisfy the world that I am not a rich man. I see no
other effectual remedy for present grievances.
"WE'VE ALL OUR ANGEL SIDE."
DESPAIR not of the better part
That lies in human kind--
A gleam of light still flickereth
In e'en the darkest mind;
The savage with his club of war,
The sage so mild and good,
Are linked in firm, eternal bonds
Of common brotherhood.
Despair not! Oh despair not, then,
For through this world so wide,
No nature is so demon-like,
But there's an angel side.
The huge rough stones from out the mine,
Unsightly and unfair,
Have veins of purest metal hid
Beneath the surface there;
Few rocks so bare but to their heights
Some tiny moss-plant clings,
And round the peaks, so desolate,
The sea-bird sits and sings.
Believe me, too, that rugged souls,
Beneath their rudeness hide
Much that is beautiful and good--
We've all our angel side.
In all there is an inner depth--
A far off, secret way,
Where, through dim windows of the soul,
God sends His smiling ray;
In every human heart there is
A faithful sounding chord,
That may be struck, unknown to us,
By some sweet loving word;
The wayward heart in vain may try
Its softer thoughts to hide,
Some unexpected tone reveals
It has its angel side.
Despised, and low, and trodden down,
Dark with the shade of sin:
Deciphering not those halo lights
Which God hath lit within;
Groping about in utmost night,
Poor prisoned souls there are,
Who guess not what life's meaning is,
Nor dream of heaven afar;
Oh! that some gentle hand of love
Their stumbling steps would guide,
And show them that, amidst it all,
Life has its angel side.
Brutal, and mean, and dark enough,
God knows, some natures are,
But He, compassionate, comes near--
And shall we stand afar?
Our cruse of oil will not grow less,
If shared with hearty hand,
And words of peace and looks of love
Few natures can withstand.
Love is the mighty conqueror--
Love is the beauteous guide--
Love, with her beaming eye, can see
We've all our angel side.
IN the month of December, in the neighbourhood of Paris, two men,
one young, the other rather advanced in years, were descending the
village street, which was made uneven and almost impassable by
stones and puddles.
Opposite to them, and ascending this same street, a labourer,
fastened to a sort of dray laden with a cask, was slowly advancing,
and beside him a little girl, of about eight years old, who was
holding the end of the barrow. Suddenly the wheel went over an
enormous stone, which lay in the middle of the street, and the car
leaned towards the side of the child.
"The man must be intoxicated," cried the young man, stepping forward
to prevent the overturn of the dray. When he reached the spot, he
perceived that the man was blind.
"Blind!" said he, turning towards his old friend. But the latter,
making him a sign to be silent, placed his hand, without speaking,
on that of the labourer, while the little girl smiled. The blind man
immediately raised his head, his sightless eyes were turned towards
the two gentlemen, his face shone with an intelligent and natural
pleasure, and, pressing closely the hand which held his own, he
said, with an accent of tenderness,
"How!" said the young man, moved and surprised; "he knew you by the
touch of your hand."
"I do not need even that," said the blind man; "when he passes me in
the street, I say to myself, 'That is his step.'" And, seizing the
hand of Mr. Desgranges, he kissed it with ardour. "It was indeed
you, Mr. Desgranges, who prevented my falling--always you."
"Why," said the young man, "do you expose yourself to such
accidents, by dragging this cask?"
"One must attend to his business, sir," replied he, gayly.
"Undoubtedly," added Mr. Desgranges. "James is our water-carrier.
But I shall scold him for going out without his wife to guide him."
"My wife was gone away. I took the little girl. One must be a little
energetic, must he not? And, you see, I have done very well since I
last saw you, my dear Mr. Desgranges; and you have assisted me."
"Come, James, now finish serving your customers, and then you can
call and see me. I am going home."
"Thank you, sir. Good-by, sir; good-by, sir."
And he started again, dragging his cask, while the child turned
towards the gentlemen her rosy and smiling face.
"Blind, and a water-carrier!" repeated the young man, as they walked
"Ah! our James astonishes you, my young friend. Yes, it is one of
those miracles like that of a paralytic who walks. Should you like
to know his story?"
"Tell it to me."
"I will do so. It does not abound in facts or dramatic incidents,
but it will interest you, I think, for it is the history of a soul,
and of a good soul it is--a man struggling against the night. You
will see the unfortunate man going step by step out of a bottomless
abyss to begin his life again--to create his soul anew. You will see
how a blind man, with a noble heart for a stay, makes his way even
in this world."
While they were conversing, they reached the house of Mr.
Desgranges, who began in this manner:--
"One morning, three years since, I was walking on a large dry plain,
which separates our village from that of Noiesemont, and which is
all covered with mill-stones just taken from the quarry. The process
of blowing the rocks was still going on. Suddenly a violent
explosion was heard. I looked. At a distance of four or five hundred
paces, a gray smoke, which seemed to come from a hole, rose from the
ground. Stones were then thrown up in the air, horrible cries were
heard, and springing from this hole appeared a man, who began to run
across the plain as if mad. He shook his arms, screamed, fell down,
got up again, disappeared in the great crevices of the plain, and
appeared again. The distance and the irregularity of his path
prevented me from distinguishing anything clearly; but, at the
height of his head, in the place of his face, I saw a great, red
mark. In alarm, I approached him, while from the other side of the
plain, from Noiesemont, a troop of men and women were advancing,
crying aloud. I was the first to reach the poor creature. His face
was all one wound, and torrents of blood were streaming over his
garments, which were all in rags.
"Scarcely had I taken hold of him, when a woman, followed by twenty
peasants, approached, and threw herself before him.
"'James, James, is it you? I did not know you, James.'
"The poor man, without answering, struggled furiously in our hands.
"'Ah!' cried the woman, suddenly, and with a heart-rending voice,
'it is he!'
"She had recognised a large silver pin, which fastened his shirt,
which was covered with blood.
"It was indeed he, her husband, the father of three children, a poor
labourer, who, in blasting a rock with powder, had received the
explosion in his face, and was blind, mutilated, perhaps mortally
"He was carried home. I was obliged to go away the same day, on a
journey, and was absent a month. Before my departure, I sent him our
doctor, a man devoted to his profession as a country physician, and
as learned as a city physician. On my return--
"'Ah! well, doctor,' said I, 'the blind man?'
"'It is all over with him. His wounds are healed, his head is doing
well, he is only blind; but he will die; despair has seized him, and
he will kill himself. I can do nothing more for him, This is all,'
he said; 'an internal inflammation is taking place. He must die.'
"I hastened to the poor man. I arrived. I shall never forget the
sight. He was seated on a wooden stool, beside a hearth on. which
there was no fire, his eyes covered with a white bandage. On the
floor an infant of three months was sleeping; a little girl of four
years old was playing in the ashes; one, still older, was shivering
opposite to her; and, in front of the fireplace, seated on the
disordered bed, her arms hanging down, was the wife. What was left
to be imagined in this spectacle was more than met the eye. One felt
that for several hours, perhaps, no word had been spoken in this
room. The wife was doing nothing, and seemed to have no care to do
anything. They were not merely unfortunate, they seemed like
condemned persons. At the sound of my footsteps they arose, but
"'You are the blind man of the quarry?"
"'I have come to see you.'
"'Thank you, sir.'
"'You met with a sad misfortune there.'
"His voice was cold, short, without any emotion. He expected nothing
from any one. I pronounced the words 'assistance,' 'public
"'Assistance!' cried his wife, suddenly, with a tone of despair;
'they ought to give it to us; they must help us; we have done
nothing to bring upon us this misfortune; they will not let my
children die with hunger.'
"She asked for nothing--begged for nothing. She claimed help. This
imperative beggary touched me more than the common lamentations of
poverty, for it was the voice of despair; and I felt in my purse for
some pieces of silver.
"The man then, who had till now been silent, said, with a hollow
"'Your children must die, since I can no longer see.'
"There is a strange power in the human voice. My money fell back
into my purse. I was ashamed of the precarious assistance. I felt
that here was a call for something more than mere almsgiving--the
charity of a day. I soon formed my resolution."
"But what could you do?" said the young man, to Mr. Desgranges.
"What could I do?" replied he, with animation. "Fifteen days after,
James was saved. A year after, he gained his own living, and might
be heard singing at his work."
"Saved! working! singing! but how?"
"How! by very natural means. But wait, I think I hear him. I will
make him tell you his simple story. It will touch you more from his
lips. It will embarrass me less, and his cordial and ardent face
will complete the work."
In fact, the noise of some one taking off his wooden shoes was heard
at the door, and then a little tap.
"Come in, James;" and he entered with his wife,
"I have brought Juliana, my dear Mr. Desgranges, the poor woman--she
must see you sometimes, must she not?"
"You did right, James. Sit down."
He came forward, pushing his stick before him, that he might not
knock against a chair. He found one, and seated himself. He was
young, small, vigorous, with black hair, a high and open forehead, a
singularly expansive face for a blind man, and, as Rabelais says, a
magnificent smile of thirty-two teeth. His wife remained standing
"James," said Mr. Desgranges to him, "here is one of my good
friends, who is very desirous to see you."
"He is a good man, then, since he is your friend."
"Yes. Talk with him; I am going to see my geraniums. But do not be
sad, you know I forbid you that."
"No, no, my dear friend, no!"
This tender and simple appellation seemed to charm the young man;
and after the departure of his friend, approaching the blind man, he
"You are very fond of Mr. Desgranges?"
"Fond of him!" cried the blind man, with impetuosity; "he saved me
from ruin, sir. It was all over with me; the thought of my children
consumed me; I was dying because I could not see. He saved me."
"With assistance--with money?"
"Money! what is money? Everybody can give that. Yes, he clothed us,
he fed us, he obtained a subscription of five hundred francs (about
one hundred dollars) for me; but all this was as nothing; he did
more--he cured my heart!"
"By his kind words, sir. Yes, he, a person of so much consequence in
the world, he came every day into my poor house, he sat on my poor
stool, he talked with me an hour, two hours, till I became quiet and
"What did he say to you?"
"I do not know; I am but a foolish fellow, and he must tell you all
he said to me; but they were things I had never heard before. He
spoke to me of the good God better than a minister; and he brought
sleep back to me."
"How was that?"
"It was two months since I had slept soundly. I would just doze, and
then start up, saying,
"'James, you are blind,' and then my head would go round--round,
like a madman; and this was killing me. One morning he came in, this
dear friend, and said to me,
"'James, do you believe in God?'
"'Why do you ask that, Mr. Desgranges?'
"'Well, this night, when you wake, and the thought of your
misfortune comes upon you, say aloud a prayer--then two--then
three--and you will go to sleep.'"
"Yes," said the wife, with her calm voice, "the good God, He gives
"This is not all, sir. In my despair I would have killed myself. I
said to myself, 'You are useless to your family, you are the woman
of the house, and others support you.' But he was displeased--'Is it
not you who support your family? If you had not been blind, would
any one have given you the five hundred francs?'
"'That is true, Mr. Desgranges.'
"'If you were not blind, would any one provide for your children?'
"'That is true, Mr. Desgranges.'
"'If you were not blind, would every one love you, as we love you?'
"'It is true, Mr. Desgranges, it is true.'
"'You see, James, there are misfortunes in all families. Misfortune
is like rain; it must fall a little on everybody. If you were not
blind, your wife would, perhaps, be sick; one of your children might
have died. Instead of that, you have all the misfortune, my poor
man; but they--they have none.'
"'True, true.' And I began to feel less sad. I was even happy to
suffer for them. And then he added,
"'Dear James, misfortune is either the greatest enemy or the
greatest friend of men. There are people whom it makes wicked; there
are others made better by it. For you, it must make you beloved by
everybody; you must become so grateful, so affectionate, that when
they wish to speak of any one who is good, they will say, good as
the blind man of the Noiesemont. That will serve for a dowry to your
daughter.' This is the way he talked to me, sir: and it gave me
heart to be unfortunate."
"Yes; but when he was not here?"
"Ah, when he was not here, I had, to be sure, some heavy moments. I
thought of my eyes--the light is so beautiful! Oh, God! cried I, in
anguish, if ever I should see clearly again, I would get up at three
o'clock. in the morning, and I would, not go to bed till ten at
night, that I might gather up more light."
"James, James!" said his wife.
"You are right, Juliana; he has forbidden me to be sad. He would
perceive it, sir. Do you think that when my head had gone wrong in
the night, and he came in the morning, and merely looked at me, he
would say--'James, you have been thinking that;' and then he would
scold me, this dear friend. Yes," added he, with an expression of
joy--"he would scold me, and that would give me pleasure, because he
tried to make his words cross, but he could not do it."
"And what gave you the idea of becoming a water-carrier?"
"He gave me that, also. Do you suppose I have ideas? I began to lose
my grief, but my time hung heavy on my hands. At thirty-two years
old, to be sitting all day in a chair! He then began to instruct me,
as he said, and he told me beautiful stories. The Bible--the history
of an old man, blind like me, named Tobias; the history of Joseph;
the history of David; the history of Jesus Christ. And then he made
me repeat them after him. But my head, it was hard--it was hard; it
was not used to learning, and I was always getting tired in my arms
and my legs."
"And he tormented us to death," said his wife, laughing.
"True, true," replied he, laughing also; "I became cross. He came
again, and said,
"'James, you must go to work.'
"I showed him my poor, burned hands.
"'It is no matter; I have bought you a capital in trade.'
"'Me, Mr. Desgranges?'
"'Yes, James, a capital into which they never put goods, and where
they always find them.'
"'It must have cost you a great deal, sir.'
"'Nothing at all, my lad.'
"'What is then this fund?'
"'The river? Do you wish me to become a fisherman?'
"'Not all; a water-carrier.'
"'Water-carrier! but eyes?'
"'Eyes; of what use are they? do the dray-horses have eyes? If they
do, they make use of them; if they do not, they do without them.
Come, you must be a water-carrier.'
"'But a cask?'
"'I will give you one.'
"'I have ordered one at the cart-maker's.'
"I will give you my custom, to begin with, eighteen francs a month;
(my dear friend pays for water as dearly as for wine.) Moreover, you
have nothing to say, either yes or no. I have dismissed my
water-carrier, and you would not let my wife and me die with thirst.
This dear Madame Desgranges, just think of it. And so, my boy, in
three days--work. And you, Madam James, come here;' and he carried
"Yes, sir," continued the wife, "he carried me off, ordered leather
straps, made me buy the wheels, harnessed me; we were all
astonishment, James and I; but stop, if you can, when Mr. Desgranges
drives you. At the end of three days, here we are with the cask, he
harnessed and drawing it, I behind, pushing; we were ashamed at
crossing the village, as if we were doing something wrong; it seemed
as if everybody would laugh at us. But Mr. Desgranges was there in
"'Come on, James,' said he, 'courage.'
"We came along, and in the evening he put into our hands a piece of
money, saying," continued the blind man, with emotion--
"'James, here are twenty sous you have earned to-day.'
"Earned, sir, think of that! earned, it was fifteen months that I
had only eaten what had been given to me. It is good to receive from
good people, it is true; but the bread that one earns, it is as we
say, half corn, half barley; it nourishes better, and then it was
done, I was no longer the woman, I was a labourer--a labourer--James
earned his living."
A sort of pride shone from his face.
"How!" said the young man, "was your cask sufficient to support
"Not alone, sir; but I have still another profession."
"Ha, ha, yes, sir; the river always runs, except when it is frozen,
and, as Mr. Desgranges says, 'water-carriers do not make their
fortune with ice,' so he gave me a Winter trade and Summer trade."
Mr. Desgranges returned at this moment--James heard him--"Is it not
true, Mr. Desgranges, that I have another trade besides that of
"What is it then?"
"Wood-sawyer? impossible; how could you measure the length of the
sticks? how could you cut wood without cutting yourself?"
"Cut myself, sir," replied the blind man, with a pleasant shade of
confidence; "I formerly was a woodsawyer, and the saw knows me well;
and then one learns everything--I go to school, indeed. They put a
pile of wood at my left side, my saw and saw horse before me, a
stick that is to be sawed in three; I take a thread, I cut it the
size of the third of the stick--this is the measure. Every place I
saw, I try it, and so it goes on till now there is nothing burned or
drunk in the village without calling upon me."
"Without mentioning," added Mr. Desgranges, "that he is a
"A commissioner!" said the young man, still more surprised.
"Yes, sir, when there is an errand to be done at Melun, I put my
little girl on my back, and then off I go. She sees for me, I walk
for her; those who meet me, say, 'Here is a gentleman who carries
his eyes very high;' to which I answer, 'that is so I may see the
farther.' And then at night I have twenty sous more to bring home."
"But are you not afraid of stumbling against the stones?"
"I lift my feet pretty high; and then I am used to it; I come from
Noiesemont here all alone."
"All alone! how do you find your way?"
"I find the course of the wind as I leave home, and this takes the
place of the sun with me."
"But the holes?"
"I know them all."
"And the walls?"
"I feel them. When I approach anything thick, sir, the air comes
with less force upon my face; it is but now and then that I get a
hard knock, as by example, if sometimes a little handcart is left on
the road, I do not suspect it--whack! bad for you, poor
five-and-thirty, but this is soon over. It is only when I get
bewildered, as I did day before yesterday. O then---"
"You have not told me of that, James," said Mr. Desgranges.
"I was, however, somewhat embarrassed, my dear friend. While I was
here the wind changed, I did not perceive it; but at the end of a
quarter of an hour, when I had reached the plain of Noiesemont, I
had lost my way, and I felt so bewildered that I did not dare to
stir a step. You know the plain, not a house, no passersby. I sat
down on the ground, I listened; after a moment I heard at, as I
supposed, about two hundred paces distant, a noise of running water.
I said, 'If this should be the stream which is at the bottom of the
plain?' I went feeling along on the side from which the noise
came--I reached the stream; then I reasoned in this way: the water
comes down from the side of Noiesemont and crosses it. I put in my
hand to feel the current."
"Yes, but the water was so low and the current so small, that my
hand felt nothing. I put in the end of my stick, it was not moved. I
rubbed my head finally, I said, 'I am a fool, here is my
handkerchief;' I took it, I fastened it to the end of my cane. Soon
I felt that it moved gently to the right, very gently. Noiesemont is
on the right. I started again and I get home to Juliana, who began
to be uneasy."
"O," cried the young man, "this is admir----"
But Mr. Desgranges stopped him, and leading him to the other end of
"Silence!" said he to him in a low voice. "Not admirable--do not
corrupt by pride the simplicity of this man. Look at him, see how
tranquil his face is, how calm after this recital which has moved
you so much. He is ignorant of himself, do not spoil him."
"It is so touching," said the young man, in a low tone.
"Undoubtedly, and still his superiority does not lie there. A
thousand blind men have found out these ingenious resources, a
thousand will find them again; but this moral perfection--this
heart, which opens itself so readily to elevated consolations--this
heart which so willingly takes upon it the part of a victim--this
heart which has restored him to life. For do not be deceived, it is
not I who have saved him, it is his affection for me; his ardent
gratitude has filled his whole soul, and has sustained--he has lived
because he has loved!"
At that moment, James, who had remained at the other end of the
room, and who perceived that we were speaking low, got up softly,
and with a delicate discretion, said to his wife,
"We will go away without making any noise."
"Are you going, James?"
"I am in the way, my dear Mr. Desgranges."
"No, pray stay longer."
His benefactor retained him, reaching out to him cordially his hand.
The blind man seized the hand in his turn, and pressed it warmly
against his heart.
"My dear friend, my dear good friend, you permit me to stay a little
longer. How glad I am to find myself near you. When I am sad I
say--'James, the good God will, perhaps, of His mercy, put you in
the same paradise with Mr. Desgranges,' and that does me good."
The young man smiled at this simple tenderness, which believed in a
hierarchy in Heaven. James heard him.
"You smile, sir. But this good man has re-created James. I dream of
it every night--I have never seen him, but I shall know him then. Oh
my God, if I recover my sight I will look at him for ever--for ever,
like the light, till he shall say to me, James, go away. But he will
not say so, he is too good. If I had known him four years ago, I
would have served him, and never have left him."
"James, James!" said Mr. Desgranges; but the poor man could not be
"It is enough to know he is in the village; this makes my heart
easy. I do not always wish to come in, but I pass before his house,
it is always there; and when he is gone a journey I make Juliana
lead me into the plain of Noiesemont, and I say--'turn me towards
the place where he is gone, that I may breathe the same air with
Mr. Desgranges put his hand before his mouth. James stopped.
"You are right, Mr. Desgranges, my mouth is rude, it is only my
heart which is right. Come, wife," said he, gayly, and drying his
great tears which rolled from his eyes, "Come, we must give our
children their supper. Good-by, my dear friend, good-by, sir."
He went away, moving his staff before him. Just as he laid his hand
upon the door, Mr. Desgranges called him back.
"I want to tell you a piece of news which will give you pleasure. I
was going to leave the village this year; but I have just taken a
new lease of five years of my landlady."
"Do you see, Juliana," said James to his wife, turning round, "I was
right when I said he was going away."
"How," replied Mr. Desgranges, "I had told them not to tell you
"Yes; but here," putting his hand on his heart, "everything is plain
here. I heard about a month since, some little words, which had
begun to make my head turn round; when, last Sunday, your landlady
called me to her, and showed me more kindness than usual, promising
me that she would take care of me, and that she would never abandon
me. When I came home, I said to Juliana, 'Wife, Mr. Desgranges is
going to quit the village; but that lady has consoled me.'"
In a few moments the blind man had returned to his home.
"WELL, Mary," said Aunt Frances, "how do you propose to spend the
summer? It is so long since the failure and death of your guardian,
that I suppose you are now familiar with your position, and prepared
to mark out some course for the future."
"True, aunt; I have had many painful thoughts with regard to the
loss of my fortune, and I was for a time in great uncertainty about
my future course, but a kind offer, which I received, yesterday, has
removed that burden. I now know where to find a respectable and
"Is the offer you speak of one of marriage?" asked Aunt Frances,
"Oh! dear, no; I am too young for that yet. But Cousin Kate is
happily married, and lives a few miles out of the city, in just the
cosiest little spot, only a little too retired; and she has
persuaded me that I shall do her a great kindness to accept a home
"Let me see. Kate's husband is not wealthy, I believe?"
"No: Charles Howard is not wealthy, but his business is very good,
and improving every year; and both he and Kate are too whole-souled
and generous to regret giving an asylum to an unfortunate girl like
me. They feel that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
"A very noble feeling, Mary; but one in which I am sorry to perceive
that you are a little wanting."
"Oh! no, Aunt Frances, I do feel it deeply; but it is the curse of
poverty that one must give up, in some measure, the power of
benefiting others. And, then, I mean to beguile Kate of so many
lonely hours, and perform so many friendly offices for her husband,
that they will think me not a burden but a treasure."
"And you really think you can give them as much comfort as the
expense of your maintenance could procure them in any other way?"
"Yes, aunt; it may sound conceited, perhaps, but I do really think I
can. I am sure, if I thought otherwise, I would never consent to
become a burden to them."
"Well, my dear, then your own interest is all that remains to be
considered. There are few blessings in life that can compensate for
the loss of self-reliance. She who derives her support from persons
upon whom she has no natural claim, finds the effect upon herself to
be decidedly narrowing. Perpetually in debt, without the means of
reimbursement, barred from any generous action which does not seem
like 'robbing Peter to pay Paul,' she sinks too often into the
character of a sponge, whose only business is absorption. But I see
you do not like what I am saying, and I will tell you something
which I am sure you _will_ like--my own veritable history.
"I was left an orphan in childhood, like yourself, and when my
father's affairs were settled, not a dollar remained for my support.
I was only six years of age, but I had attracted the notice of a
distant relative, who was a man of considerable wealth. Without any
effort of my own, I became an inmate of his family, and his only
son, a few years my elder, was taught to consider me as a sister.
"George Somers was a generous, kind-hearted boy, and I believe he
was none the less fond of me, because I was likely to rob him of
half his fortune. Mr. Somers often spoke of making a will, in which
I was to share equally with his son in the division of his property,
but a natural reluctance to so grave a task led him to defer it from
one year to another. Meantime, I was sent to expensive schools, and
was as idle and superficial as any heiress in the land.
"I was just sixteen when my kind benefactor suddenly perished on
board the ill-fated Lexington, and, as he died without a will, I had
no legal claim to any farther favours. But George Somers was known
as a very open-handed youth, upright and honourable, and, as he was
perfectly well acquainted with the wishes of his father, I felt no
fears with regard to my pecuniary condition. While yet overwhelmed
with grief at the loss of one whom my heart called father, I
received a very kind and sympathizing letter from George, in which
he said he thought I had better remain at school for another year,
as had been originally intended.
"'Of course,' he added, 'the death of my father does not alter our
relation in the least; you are still my dear and only sister.'
"And, in compliance with his wishes, I passed another year at a very
fashionable school--a year of girlish frivolity, in which my last
chance of acquiring knowledge as a means of future independence was
wholly thrown away. Before the close of this year I received another
letter from George, which somewhat surprised, but did not at all
dishearten me. It was, in substance, as follows:--
"'_MY own dear Sister_:--I wrote you, some months ago, from
Savannah, in Georgia told you how much I was delighted with the
place and people; how charmed with Southern frankness and
hospitality. But I did not tell you that I had there met with
positively the most bewitching creature in the world--for I was but
a timid lover, and feared that, as the song says, the course of true
love never would run smooth. My charming Laura was a considerable
heiress, and, although no sordid considerations ever had a feather's
weight upon her own preferences, of course, yet her father was
naturally and very properly anxious that the guardian of so fair a
flower should be able to shield it from the biting winds of poverty.
Indeed, I had some difficulty in satisfying his wishes on this
point, and in order to do so, I will frankly own that I assumed to
myself the unencumbered possession of my father's estate, of which
so large a share belongs of right to you. I am confident that when
you know my Laura you will forgive me this merely nominal injustice.
Of course, this connexion can make no sort of difference in your
rights and expectations. You will always have a home at my house.
Laura is delighted, with the idea of such a companion, and says she
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