THE GIRL WANTED
A BOOK OF FRIENDLY THOUGHTS
AUTHOR OF "BOY WANTED," "A BOOK OF VERSES," "IN MERRY MOOD," ETC.
CHICAGO FORBES AND COMPANY 1919
Copyright, 1910, By Forbes and Company
—The girl wanted, who, By her beautiful ways, Shall brighten and gladden Life's wonderful days.
The pleasure of giving to the public this volume has been brought about by the publication of the author's work entitled, "Boy Wanted," which he presented as "a book of cheerful counsel to his young friends and such of the seniors as are not too old to accept a bit of friendly admonition."
The warm welcome accorded that book, and the many requests it has called forth for a similar companion volume for girls, has prompted the author to prepare the series of papers offered herewith, with the hope that they, too, may find as many youthful friends (between the ages of seven and seventy) awaiting them.
In the present volume, as in "Boy Wanted," the fine prose thoughts are selected from the writings of a very large number of the world's foremost teachers and philosophers of all times, while the author, with a due sense of modesty, lays claim to all such examples of versification as are to be found within this book.
In these days when the women of the world, with such splendid success, are writing books for the moral guidance and spiritual uplift of the men and youth of every land, an author need not feel called upon to apologize when he presumes to address his remarks to readers of the opposite sex, as did John Ruskin, to such fine purpose, in the "Pearls for Young Ladies."
Since his own mother, wife, sisters, daughters and many of his best friends belong to the feminine half of humanity, any man who is a careful observer, a logical reasoner, and an adequate writer ought to be able to say something of worth and interest to the women and girls to whom he is permitted to address himself. If in this volume the author is able to impart to others, in a small degree, the beneficent influence he has received through the splendid precepts and noble examples of the women to whom he owes so much, he will deem himself grandly rewarded for the labor of love herein set forth.
Nor is the author unconscious of the great purpose that should underlie the writing of a series of papers designed to direct the daughters of our land toward the greatest factor in the making and the perpetuity of a nation—a noble and beautiful womanhood. For observation has taught the world that—
We're almost sure to find good men, When, all in all, we choose to take them, Are, nearly nine times out of ten, What mothers, wives and sisters make them.
I CHOOSING THE WAY 13
Starting right. The strength of early impressions. "Environment." The will and the way. Planning the future. "Mother's Apron Strings."
II ACCOMPLISHMENTS 27
The ability to do things. Elegant and useful accomplishments. The value of thoroughness. "What Have We Done To-day?" The service of the heart. "Sympathy." "Only A Word."
III THE JOY OF DOING 45
The power of enthusiasm. Working with heart and hand. Looking on the bright side. "Just This Minute." Happiness and its relation to health. Paths of sunshine. "The Sculptor."
IV SOME EVERY-DAY VIRTUES 65
The desire to do right. The importance of every-day incidents. True culture. "A Rose to the Living." Patience as a virtue. "This Busy World."
V THE VALUE OF SUNSHINE 85
"Likableness" as a desirable quality. The present the best of all times. The sunshiny girl. "The Prize Winner." The necessity of being prepared. "The Conqueror."
VI A MERRY HEART 105
Smoothing the way with a smile. The unselfishness of happiness. "The Point of View." The joy of living for others. "The Better Armor." Cultivating happiness. "Song or Sigh."
VII GOLDEN HABITS 125
Good habits and bad. The strength of habit. "True Gentility." Manners and personality. "What Are You Going to Do?" The worth of good breeding. "Drudgery."
VIII THE PURPOSE OF LIFE 145
The inspiration of success. Building day by day. "Morning Gates." The value of a purpose. Women's growing sphere. "Man, Poor Man." Opportunities and responsibilities. "Morning Prayer."
Martha Washington Frontispiece Queen Victoria Page 26 Harriet Beecher Stowe " 44 Louisa M. Alcott " 64 Julia Ward Howe " 84 Elizabeth Barrett Browning " 104 Florence Nightingale " 124 George Eliot " 144
THE GIRL WANTED
CHOOSING THE WAY
Yes, my good girl, I am very glad that we are to have the opportunity to enjoy a friendly chat through the medium of the printed page, with its many tongues of type.
Just here I have a favor to ask of you, and that is that you will consent to let us talk chiefly about yourself and the manner in which you are going to live all the golden to-morrows that are awaiting you.
In a discussion of the topics which are to follow, it will be well for you to understand that there has never been a period in the world's history when a girl was of more importance than she is just now. Indeed, many close observers and clear thinkers are of the opinion that there never has been a time when a girl was of quite so much importance as she is to-day.
Some of our most able writers tell us that we are just on the threshold of "the women's century," and that the great advance the world is to witness in the forthcoming years is to be largely inspired by, and redound to the glory of, the women of the earth.
Come what will, the future is sufficiently alluring to cause you to cherish it most fondly and to determine that you will make the years that are before you as bright and beautiful and as "worth while" as it is possible for you to do.
It is a glorious privilege to dwell in the very forefront of time, in the grandest epoch of the world's history and to feel that we are permitted to be observers of, and if it may so be, active participants in, the fascinating events that are occurring all about us.
Yet with all the grand achievements that are being encompassed in every field of human endeavor, the world to-day, needs most, that which the world has ever most needed—words helpful and true, hearts kind and tender, hands willing and ready to lift the less fortunate over the rough places in the paths of life, goodness and grace, gentle women and gentlemen.
And so here we find ourselves, just at this particular spot and at this very moment, with all of the days, months, years—yes, the whole of eternity—still to be lived!
At first thought it seems like a great problem, does this having to decide how we are going to live out all the great future that is before us. Yet, when we come to think it over, we see that it is not so difficult after all; for, fortunate mortals that we are, we shall never have to live it but one moment at a time. And, better still, that one moment is always to be the one that is right here and just now where we can see it and study it and shape it and do with it as we will.
Just this minute!
Surely it will not require a great deal of effort on the part of any one of us to live the next sixty seconds as they should be lived. And having lived one moment properly, it ought to be still easier for us to live the next one as well, and then the next, and the next until, finally, we continue to live them rightly, just as a matter of habit.
When we come to understand clearly that time is the thing of which lives are made, and that time is divided into a certain number of units, we can then pretty closely figure out, by simple processes in arithmetic, how much life is going to be worth to us.
What we are doing this minute, multiplied by sixty, tells us what we are likely to accomplish in an hour.
What we do in an hour, multiplied by the number of working hours in every twenty-four, tells us what we may expect to achieve in a day.
What we do in a day, multiplied by three hundred and sixty-five, shows us what it is probable we shall accomplish in a year.
What we do in a year, when multiplied by the number of years of youth and health and strength, we have reason to believe are yet before us, sets forth the result we may hope to secure in a lifetime. For it is not hard for us to comprehend that.
If, ever, while this minute's here, We use it circumspectly, We'll live this hour, this day, this year, Yes, all our lives, correctly.
As the work of the builder is preceded by the plans of the architect, so the deeds we do in life are preceded by the thoughts we think. The thought is the plan; the deed is the structure.
"As the twig is bent the tree is inclined." Wordsworth tells us: "The child is father of the man." Which means, also, that the child is mother of the woman. That which we dream to-day we may do to-morrow. The toys of childhood become the tools of our maturer years.
So it follows that an important part of the work and occupation of one's early years should be to learn to have right thoughts, which, later on in life, are to become right actions.
The pleasant, helpful girl is most likely to become the pleasant, helpful woman. The seed that is sown in the springtime of life determines the character of the harvest that must be reaped in the autumn.
The cultivation of the right point of view means so much in determining one's attitude toward all that the years may bring. Three centuries ago it was written: "What is one man's poison is another's meat or drink." So there are many things in life that bring pleasure to some and distress to others.
There is a beautiful little story about a shepherd boy who was keeping his sheep in a flowery meadow, and because his heart was happy, he sang so loudly that the surrounding hills echoed back his song. One morning the king, who was out hunting, spoke to him and said: "Why are you so happy, my boy?"
"Why should I not be happy?" answered the boy. "Our king is not richer than I."
"Indeed," said the king, "pray tell me of your great possessions."
The shepherd boy answered: "The sun in the bright blue sky shines as brightly upon me as upon the king. The flowers upon the mountain and the grass in the valley grow and bloom to gladden my sight as well as his. I would not take a fortune for my hands; my eyes are of more value than all the precious stones in the world. I have food and clothing, too. Am I not, therefore, as rich as the king?"
"You are right," said the king, with a smile, "but your greatest treasure is your contented heart. Keep it so, and you will always be happy."
So much of life's happiness depends upon one's immediate surroundings that wherever it is a matter of choice they should be made to conform as nearly as possible to the thoughts and tastes one wishes to cultivate. As a matter of course but few persons can have just the surroundings they would like, but it is possible that by pleasant thinking all of us can make the surroundings we have more likable. We can, at least, be thoughtful of the character of the friends and companions we choose to have with us, and it is they who are the most vital and influential part of our
Shine or shadow, flame or frost, Zephyr-kissed or tempest-tossed, Night or day, or dusk or dawn, We are strangely lived upon.
Mystic builders in the brain— Mirth and sorrow, joy and pain, Grief and gladness, gloom and light— Build, oh, build my heart aright!
O ye friends, with pleasant smiles, Help me build my precious whiles; Bring me blocks of gold to make Strength that wrong shall never shake.
Day by day I gather from All you give me. I become Yet a part of all I meet In the fields and in the street.
Bring me songs of hope and youth, Bring me bands of steel and truth, Bring me love wherein to find Charity for all mankind.
Place within my hands the tools And the Master Builder's rules, That the walls we fashion may Stand forever and a day.
Help me build a palace where All is wonderfully fair— Built of truth, the while, above, Shines the pinnacle of love.
If we are to receive help and strength from our friends we must lend them help and strength in return. And since the deeds of others inspire us we should not deem it impossible to make our deeds inspire them.
Helen Keller, who, though deaf and blind, has achieved so many wonderful and beautiful victories over the barriers that have beset her, says: "My share in the work of the world may be limited, but the fact that it is work makes it precious.... Darwin could work only half an hour at a time; yet in many diligent half-hours he laid anew the foundations of philosophy.... Green, the historian, tells us that the world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker."
In the same spirit the great French savant, Emile Zola, penned these words: "Let each one accept his task, a task which should fill his life. It may be very humble; it will not be the less useful. Never mind what it is, so long as it exists and keeps you erect! When you have regulated it, without excess—just the quantity you are able to accomplish each day—it will cause you to live in health and in joy."
Some wise observer has said that one of the chief aims of life should be to learn how to grow old gracefully. This knowledge is deemed by many to be a great secret and a most valuable one. Yet it can hardly be called a secret since every girl and boy as well as every person of maturer years must know that it is but the working out of the laws of cause and effect. When character-building is begun on the right lines and those lines are followed to the end the result is as certain as it is beautiful. When we see a grandmother whose life has been lived on the happy plane of pure thoughts and kind deeds we ought not to wonder that her old age is as exquisite as was the perfect bloom of her youth. We need not marvel how it has come about that her life has been a long and happy one. Here is the "secret:"
She knew how to forget disagreeable things.
She kept her nerves well in hand and inflicted them on no one.
She mastered the art of saying pleasant things.
She did not expect too much from her friends.
She made whatever work came to her congenial.
She retained her faith in others and did not believe all the world wicked and unkind.
She relieved the miserable and sympathized with the sorrowful.
She never forgot that kind words and a smile cost nothing, but are priceless treasures to the discouraged.
She did unto others as she would be done by, and now that old age has come to her, and there is a halo of white hair about her brow, she is loved and considered. This is the "secret" of a long life and a happy one.
Fortunate is the girl who is permitted to dwell within the living presence of such a matron and to be directed by her into the paths of usefulness and sunshine. And thrice fortunate is every girl who has for her guide and counselor a loving mother to whom she can go for light and wisdom with which to meet all the problems of life.
"Mother knows." Her earnest, loving words are to be cherished above all others as many men and many women have learned after the long miles and the busy years have crept between them and "the old folks at home." Do not, O Girl! I pray you, ever grow impatient, as boys sometimes do, to be set beyond the protecting care of
When I was but a careless youth, I thought the truly great Were those who had attained, in truth, To man's mature estate. And none my soul so sadly tried Or spoke such bitter things As he who said that I was tied To mother's apron-strings.
I loved my mother, yet it seemed That I must break away And find the broader world I dreamed Beyond her presence lay. But I have sighed and I have cried O'er all the cruel stings I would have missed had I been tied To mother's apron-strings.
O happy, trustful girls and boys! The mother's way is best. She leads you 'mid the fairest joys, Through paths of peace and rest. If you would have the safest guide, And drink from sweetest springs, Oh, keep your hearts forever tied To mother's apron-strings.
[Transcriber's Note: Sidenote quotations from the preceeding chapter are gathered in this section.]
What can be expressed in words can be expressed in life.—Thoreau.
It is faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth looking at.—Oliver Wendell Holmes.
The habit of viewing things cheerfully, and of thinking about life hopefully, may be made to grow up in us like any other habit. —Smiles.
A laugh is worth a hundred groans in any state of the market. —Charles Lamb.
The old days never come again, because they would be getting in the way of the new, better days whose turn it is.—George MacDonald.
The man who has learned to take things as they come, and to let go as they depart, has mastered one of the arts of cheerful and contented living.—Anonymous.
Cheerfulness is the very flower of health.—Schopenhauer.
There are people who do not know how to waste their time alone, and hence become the scourge of busy people.—De Bonald.
Not what has happened to myself to-day, but what has happened to others through me—that should be my thought.—Frederick Deering Blake.
Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never come.—Lowell.
The highest luxury of which the human mind is sensible is to call smiles upon the face of misery.—Anonymous.
He who is plenteously provided for from within, needs but little from without.—Goethe.
Each day should be distinguished by at least one particular act of love.—Lavater.
Every person is responsible for all the good within the scope of his abilities, and for no more; and none can tell whose sphere is the largest.—Gail Hamilton.
Work is the very salt of life, not only preserving it from decay, but also giving it tone and flavor.—Hugh Black.
Treat your friends for what you know them to be. Regard no surfaces. Consider not what they did, but what they intended.—Thoreau.
Work! It is the sole law of the world.—Emile Zola.
No lot is so hard, no aspect of things is so grim, but it relaxes before a hearty laugh.—George S. Merriam.
Concentration is the secret of strength.—Emerson.
Anybody can do things with an "if"—the thing is to do them without. —Patrick Flynn.
An aim in life is the only fortune worth the finding; and it is not to be found in foreign lands, but in the heart itself.—R. L. Stevenson.
The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder; a waif, a nothing, a no-man. Have a purpose in life ... and having it, throw such strength of mind and muscle into thy work as has been given thee.—Carlyle.
It is better to be worn out with work in a thronged community than to perish of inaction in a stagnant solitude.—Mrs. Gaskell.
The advantage of leisure is mainly that we have the power of choosing our own work; not certainly that it confers any privilege of idleness.—Lord Avebury.
Suffering becomes beautiful, when any one bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility, but through greatness of mind.—Aristotle.
Character is a perfectly educated will.—Novalis.
One of the most massive and enduring gratifications is the feeling of personal worth, ever afresh, brought into consciousness by effectual action; and an idle life is balked of its hopes partly because it lacks this.—Herbert Spencer.
Truth is always consistent with itself, and needs nothing to help it out.—Tillotson.
He that is choice of his time will be choice of his company and choice of his actions.—Jeremy Taylor.
Our character is our will; for what we will we are.—Archbishop Manning.
He overcomes a stout enemy that overcomes his own anger.—Chilo.
Good company and good conversation are the sinews of virtue. —Stephen Allen.
If you have great talents, industry will improve them; if you have but moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency. Nothing is denied to well directed labor; nothing is to be obtained without it. —Joshua Reynolds.
If you are doing any real good you cannot escape the reward of your service.—Patrick Flynn.
Simplicity and plainness are the soul of elegance.—Dickens.
Happiness is one of the virtues which the people of all nationalities and every pursuit appreciate.—Joe Mitchell Chapple.
I am sure that every girl wishes to become accomplished, and I am quite as certain that every girl can become so if she will.
My dictionary defines an accomplishment as an "acquirement or attainment that tends to perfect or equip in character, manners, or person."
Surely every girl can do something, or has acquired some special line of knowledge, that is covered by this broad definition.
It means that every girl who can sweep a room; read French or German or English as it should be read; bake a loaf of bread; play tennis; darn a stocking; play the violin or pianoforte; give the names of flowers and birds and butterflies; write a neat, well-composed letter, either in longhand or shorthand; draw or paint pictures; make a bed or do one or more of a thousand and one other things is accomplished. The more things she can do and the greater the number of subjects on which she is informed, the more highly is she accomplished.
It is understood, as a matter of course, that thoroughness in one's accomplishments is the true measure of his worth. One who knows a few subjects very well is no doubt more accomplished than one who has only a superficial "smatter" of knowledge concerning many.
We can all readily understand how much more pleasing it is to hear a true virtuoso play the violin or pianoforte than it is to listen to a beginner who can perform indifferently on a number of instruments.
"A little diamond is worth a mountain of glass."
Quality is the thing that counts.
The desire and disposition to do a thing well, coupled with a firm determination, are pretty sure to bring the ability necessary for achieving the wished-for end. The will is lacking more often than is the way.
It is a matter of frequent comment that we usually expect too much of the average young and attractive girl in the way of accomplishments. Because she is pleasing in her general appearance we are apt to feel a sense of disappointment if we find that her qualities of mind do not equal her outward charms.
Charles Lamb says: "I know that sweet children are the sweetest things in nature," and adds, "but the prettier the kind of a thing is, the more desirable it is that it should be pretty of its kind." And so it is with girls who are bright and blithe and beautiful; the world would give them every charming quality of mind and heart to match the grace of face and figure.
Hence we find that the girl who is most fondly wanted, by the members of her own family, by her schoolmates, and by all with whom she shall form an acquaintance, is the one who is as pleasing in her manners as she is beautiful in her physical features.
Of all the accomplishments it is possible for a girl to possess, that of being pleasant and gracious to those about her is the greatest and most desirable. "There is no beautifier of the complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us," says Emerson.
It is possible for persons to acquire a great deal of information and to become skillful in many things and still be unloved by those with whom they are associated.
The heart needs to be educated even more than the mind, for it is the heart that dominates and colors and gives character and meaning to the whole of life. Even the kindest of words have little meaning unless there is a kind heart to make them stand for something that will live.
"You will find as you look back upon your life," says Drummond, "that the moments that stand out, the moments when you have really lived, are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of love. As memory scans the past, above and beyond all the transitory pleasures of life, there leap forward those supreme hours when you have been enabled to do unnoticed kindnesses to those round about you, things too trifling to speak about, but which you feel have entered into your eternal life ... Everything else in our lives is transitory. Every other good is visionary. But the acts of love which no man knows about, or can ever know about—they never fail."
It is the ability to do the many little acts of kindness, and to make the most of all the opportunities for gladding the lives of others, that constitute the finest accomplishment any girl can acquire.
It often happens that the thought of the great kindnesses we should like to do, and which we mean to do, "sometime" in the days to come, keeps us from seeing the many little favors we could, if we would, grant to those just about us at the present time. Yet we all know that it is not the things we are going to do that really count. It is the thing that we do do that is worth while.
No doubt we should all be much more thoughtful of our many present opportunities and make better use of them were we frequently to ask ourselves,
WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO-DAY?
We shall do so much in the years to come, But what have we done to-day? We shall give our gold in a princely sum, But what did we give to-day? We shall lift the heart and dry the tear, We shall plant a hope in the place of fear, We shall speak the words of love and cheer; But what did we speak to-day?
We shall be so kind in the after while, But what have we been to-day? We shall bring each lonely life a smile, But what have we brought to-day? We shall give to truth a grander birth, And to steadfast faith a deeper worth, We shall feed the hungering souls of earth; But whom have we fed to-day?
We shall reap such joys in the by and by, But what have we sown to-day? We shall build us mansions in the sky, But what have we built to-day? 'T is sweet in idle dreams to bask, But here and now do we do our task? Yes, this is the thing our souls must ask, "What have we done to-day?"
Among the every-day accomplishments which everyone should wish to possess is a knowledge of the fine art of smiling. To know how and when to smile, not too much and not too little, is a fine mental and social possession.
Hawthorne says: "If I value myself on anything it is on having a smile that children love." Any one possessing a smile that children as well as others may love is to be congratulated. A pleasant, smiling face is of great worth to its possessor and to the world that is privileged to look upon it.
A smile is an indication that the one who is smiling is happy and every happy person helps to make every one else happy. Yet we all understand that happiness does not mean smiling all the time. There is truly nothing more distressing than a giggler or one who is forever grimacing. "True happiness," says one of our most cheerful writers, "means the joyous sparkle in the eye and the little, smiling lines in the face that are so quickly and easily distinguished from the lines produced by depression and frowning that grow deeper and deeper until they become as hard and severe as if they were cut in stone." Such happiness is one of the virtues which people of all classes and ages, the world over, admire and enjoy. "We do not know what ripples of healing are set in motion," says Henry Drummond, "when we simply smile on one another. Christianity wants nothing so much in the world as sunny people."
Most persons are very quick to see whether or not a smile is genuine or is manufactured and put on like a mask for the occasion. The automatic, stock-in-trade smile hardly ever fits the face that tries to wear it. It is a little too wide or sags at the corners or something else is wrong with it.
A smile may be as deep as a well and as wide as a church door; it may be "sweeter than honey," but the instant we detect that it is not genuine, it loses its charm and becomes, in fact, much worse than no smile at all. Smiles that are genuine are always just right both in quality and quantity. So the only really safe rule is for us not to smile until we feel like it and then we shall get on all right. And we ought to feel like smiling whenever we look into the honest face of any fellow being. A smile passes current in every country as a mark of distinction.
But it is even possible to overdo in the matter of smiling. "I can't think of anything more irritating to the average human being," says Lydia Horton Knowles, "than an incessant, everlasting smile. There are people who have it. When things go wrong they have a patient, martyr-like smile, and when things go right they have a dutifully pleasant smile which has all the appearance of being mechanical, and purely a pose. Now I think the really intelligent person is the one who can look as though he realized the significance of various incidents or happenings and who can look sorrowful, even, if the occasion demands it. It is not a pleasant thing to suffer mentally or physically, for instance, and have any one come up to you with a smile of patient, sweet condolence. The average man or woman does not want smiles when he or she is uncomfortable. We are apt to remember that it is easy enough to smile when it is somebody else who has the pain. I venture to say that a smile given at the wrong moment is far more dangerous to human happiness than the lack of a smile at any given psychological moment. There is a time and a place for all things, even a smile."
No expression of feeling is of much moment without a warm heart and an intelligent thought behind it. The seemingly mechanical, automatic expressions of feeling and of interest in our affairs are sometimes even harder to bear than an out and out attitude of indifference. The thing that really warms and moves us is a touch of heartfelt, intelligent
When the clouds begin to lower, That's a splendid time to smile; But your smile will lose its power If you're smiling all the while. Now and then a sober season, Now and then a jolly laugh: We like best, and there's a reason, A good, wholesome half and half.
When the other one has trouble, We should feel that trouble, too, For, were we with joy to bubble 'Mid his grief, 't would hardly do. Let us own that keen discerning That can see and bear a part; For the whole wide world is yearning For a sympathetic heart.
Nothing is more restful and refreshing than a friendly glance or a kindly word offered to us in the midst of our daily rounds of duty. And since we are not often in a position to grant great favors we should not fail to cultivate the habit of bestowing small ones whenever we can. It is in giving the many little lifts along the way that we shall be able to lighten many burdens.
I do not know it to be a fact, but I have read it somewhere in the books that the human heart rests nine hours out of every twenty-four. It manages to steal little bits of rest between beats, and thus it is ever refreshed and able to go on performing the work nature has assigned for it to do.
And therein is a first-rate lesson for most persons, who if they cannot do something of considerable moment are disposed to do nothing at all. They forget that it is the brief three-minute rests that enable the mountain-climber to press on till he reaches the top whereas longer periods of inactivity might serve to stiffen his limbs and impede his progress.
Wise are they who, like the human heart, sprinkle rest and kindness and heart's-ease all through their daily tasks. They weave a bright thread of thankful happiness through the web and woof of life's pattern. They are never too busy to say a kind word or to do a gentle deed. They may be compelled to sigh betimes, but amid their sighs are smiles that drive away the cares. They find sunbeams scattered in the trail of every cloud. They gather flowers where others see nothing but weeds. They pluck little sprigs of rest where others find only thorns of distress.
After the manner of the human heart, they make much of the little opportunities presented to them. They rest that they may have strength for others. They gather sunshine with which to dispel the shadows about them.
The grandest conception of life is to esteem it as an opportunity for making others happy. He who is most true to his higher self is truest to the race. The lamp that shines brightest gives the most light to all about it. Thoreau says: "To enjoy a thing exclusively is commonly to exclude yourself from the true enjoyment of life."
He is, indeed, a correct observer and a careful student of human nature who tells us that the face is such an index of character that the very growth of the latter can be traced upon the former, and most of the successive lines that carve the furrowed face of age out of the smooth outline of childhood are engraved directly or indirectly by mind. There is no beautifier of the face like a beautiful spirit.
So we see that if we have acquired the habit of wearing a pleasant face, or of smiling honestly and cheerfully, we have an accomplishment that is worth more than many others that are more pretentious and more superficial. If to this accomplishment we can add another—the ability to speak a pleasant word to those whom we may meet—we are not to think poorly of our equipment for life.
There is a good, old-fashioned word in the dictionary, the study of which, with its definition, is well worth our while. The word is "Complaisance," and it is defined as "the disposition, action, or habit of being agreeable, or conforming to the views, wishes, or convenience of others; desire or endeavor to please; courtesy; politeness."
Complaisance, as it has been truly said, renders a superior amiable, an equal agreeable, an inferior acceptable. It sweetens conversation; it produces good-nature and mutual benevolence; it encourages the timid, soothes the turbulent, humanizes the fierce, and distinguishes a society of civilized persons from a confusion of savages.
Politeness has been defined as society's method of making things run smoothly. True complaisance is a more intimate quality. It is an impulse to seek points of agreement with others. A spirit of welcome, whether to strangers, or to new suggestions, untried pleasures, fresh impressions. It never is satisfied to remain inactive as long as there is anybody to please or to make more comfortable.
The complaisant person need not be lacking in will, in determination, or individuality. In fact it is the complaisant person's strength of will that holds in check and harmonizes all the other traits of character and moulds them into a perfectly balanced disposition.
Complaisance rounds off the sharp corners, chooses softer and gentler words and makes it easy and pleasant for all to dwell together in unity. And it never fails to contribute something to the enjoyment of everyone even though it be
ONLY A WORD
Tell me something that will be Joy through all the years to me. Let my heart forever hold One divinest grain of gold. Just a simple little word, Yet the dearest ever heard; Something that will bring me rest When the world seems all distressed.
As the candle in the night Sends abroad its cheerful light, So a little word may be Like a lighthouse in the sea. When the winds and waves of life Fill the breast with storm and strife, Just one star my boat may guide To the harbor, glorified.
[Transcriber's Note: Sidenote quotations from the preceeding chapter are gathered in this section.]
Only to the pure and the true does Nature resign herself and reveal her secrets.—Goethe.
Every man carries with him the world in which he must live, the stage and the scenery for his own play.—F. Marion Crawford.
The best is yet unwritten, for we grow from more to more.—Sam Walter Foss.
Notwithstanding a faculty be born with us, there are several methods for cultivating and improving it.—Addison.
Every truth in the universe makes a close joint with every other truth.—Melvin L. Severy.
All flimsy, shallow, and superficial work is a lie, of which a man ought to be ashamed.—John Stuart Blackie.
When we cease to learn, we cease to be interesting.—John Lancaster Spalding.
The workless people are the worthless people.—Wm. C. Gannett.
Our ideals are our better selves.—Bronson Alcott.
All literature, art, and science are vain, and worse, if they do not enable you to be glad, and glad, justly.—Ruskin.
All things else are of the earth, but love is of the sky.—William Stanley Braithwaite.
To fill the hour, that is happiness.—Emerson.
Ah, well that in a wintry hour the heart can sing a summer song. —Edward Francis Burns.
Avast there! Keep a bright lookout forward and good luck to you. —Dickens.
Genius is the transcendent capacity for taking trouble first of all. —Carlyle.
For dreams, to those of steadfast hope and will, are things wherewith they build their world of fact.—Alicia K. Van Buren.
No man can rest who has nothing to do.—Sam Walter Foss.
Love is the leaven of existence.—Melvin L. Severy.
Work is no disgrace but idleness is.—Hesiod.
Shoddy work is not only a wrong to a man's own personal integrity, hurting his character; but also it is a wrong to society. Truthfulness in work is as much demanded as truthfulness in speech.—Hugh Black.
The flowering of civilization is in the finished man, the man of sense, of grace, of accomplishment, of social power—the gentleman. —Ralph Waldo Emerson.
It is all very well to growl at the cold-heartedness of the world, but which of us can truthfully say that he has done as much for others as others have done for him?—Patrick Flynn.
A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work, and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace.—Emerson.
Some people meet us like the mountain air and thrill our souls with freshness and delight.—Nathan Haskell Dole.
I let the willing winter bring his jeweled buds of frost and snow. —Edward Francis Burns.
The world is unfinished; let's mold it a bit.—Sam Walter Foss.
Our wishes are presentiments of the capabilities which lie within us and harbingers of that which we shall be in a condition to perform. —Goethe.
Do not let us overlook the wayside flowers.—Joe Mitchell Chapple.
Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.—R. L. Stevenson.
The wealth of a man is the number of things which he loves and blesses, and by which he is loved and blessed.—Carlyle.
The stoical scheme of supplying our wants by lopping off our desires is like cutting off our feet when we want shoes.—Jonathan Swift.
Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.—Lord Chesterfield.
Indulge not in vain regrets for the past, in vainer resolves for the future—act, act in the present.—F. W. Robertson.
The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in our power.—Hugh White.
The man who cannot be practical and mix his religion with his business is either in the wrong religion or in the wrong business.—Patrick Flynn.
I don't think there is a pleasure in the world that can be compared with an honest joy in conquering a difficult task.—Margaret E. Sangster.
Every right action and true thought sets the seal of its beauty on every person's face; every wrong action and foul thought its seal of distortion.—Ruskin.
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.—J. M. Barrie.
Politeness is like an air cushion; there may be nothing in it, but it eases the jolts wonderfully.—George Eliot.
Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all things easy. —Benjamin Franklin.
Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.—Disraeli.
We would willingly have others perfect and yet we amend not our own faults.—Thomas a Kempis.
The most manifold sign of wisdom is continued cheer.—Montaigne.
There is only one cure for public distress—and that is public education, directed to make men thoughtful, merciful, and just. —Ruskin.
To believe a business impossible is the way to make it so.—Wade.
THE JOY OF DOING
Half-way, half-hearted doings never amount to much. Battles are not won with flags at half-mast. No, they are run up to the very tops of their standards and are waved as far toward the heavens as is possible.
If we lack enthusiasm we are almost as certain to fail of achieving an end as a locomotive engine that lacks steam is of climbing the grade. Even a listless, lackadaisical spirit may get on all right so long as the path of life is all on a level or is down grade, but when it comes to hill-climbing and the real experiences of life that serve to develop character, it is likely to give up the contest and surrender the prize it might win to other and more earnest competitors.
"If you would get the best results, do your work with enthusiasm as well as fidelity," says Dr. Lyman Abbott. "Only he can who thinks he can!" says Orison Swett Marden. "The world makes way only for the determined man who laughs at barriers which limit others, at stumbling-blocks over which others fall. The man who, as Emerson says, 'hitches his wagon to a star,' is more likely to arrive at his goal than the one who trails in the slimy path of the snail."
Every girl knows that the girl friends whom she loves best are the ones who are alive to the world about them and who feel an enthusiasm in the tasks and privileges that confront them.
Enthusiasm is the breeze that fills the sails and sends the ship gliding over the happy waves. It is the joy of doing things and of seeing that things are well done. It gives to work a thoroughness and a delicious zest and to play a whole-souled, health-giving delight.
Only they who find joy in their work can live the larger and nobler life; for without work, and work done joyously, life must remain dwarfed and undeveloped. "If you would have sunlight in your home," writes Stopford Brooke, "see that you have work in it; that you work yourself, and set others to work. Nothing makes moroseness and heavy-heartedness in a house so fast as idleness. The very children gloom and sulk if they are left with nothing to do. If all have their work, they have not only their own joy in creating thought, in making thought into form, in driving on something to completion, but they have the joy of ministering to the movement of the whole house, when they feel that what they do is part of a living whole. That in itself is sunshine. See how the face lights up, how the step is quickened, how the whole man or child is a different being from the weary, aimless, lifeless, complaining being who had no work! It is all the difference between life and death."
We must play life's sweet keys if we would keep them in tune. Charles Kingsley says: "Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done whether you like it or not. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know."
All the introspective thinkers of the world have agreed that nothing else is so hard to do as is "nothing." It is unwholesome for one to have more leisure than a mere breathing spell now and then for the purpose of setting to work once more with renewed energy.
They who work with their hearts as well as their hands do not grow tired. A labor of love is a labor of growing delight. "The moment toil is exchanged for leisure," writes Munger, "a gate is opened to vice. When wealth takes off the necessity of labor and invites to idleness, nature executes her sharpest revenge upon such infraction of the present order; the idle rich live next door to ruin." And Burton puts the case even more strongly when he says: "He or she that is idle, be they of what condition they will, never so rich, so well allied, fortunate, happy—let them have all things in abundance and felicity that heart can wish and desire,—all contentment—so long as he or she or they are idle, they shall never be pleased, never well in mind or body, but weary still, sickly still, vexed still, loathing still, weeping, sighing, grieving, suspecting, offended with the world, with every object, wishing themselves gone or dead, or else carried away with some foolish phantasy or other."
But riches do not necessarily have to be associated with idleness. Riches rightly employed bestow upon the possessors of them the blessed privilege of being employed in the kind of work where they can serve to the best advantage and do most for their fellowmen. Indeed, the possession of riches places upon those who have them the moral necessity and obligation of doing more and better things in the world than is expected of the ones less amply supplied with wealth. "From every man according to his ability; to every man according to his needs." The larger responsibilities are placed upon those to whom are given the larger means of achievement.
So it is a mistake to fancy that the possession of great riches would relieve us from doing all the tasks and duties for ourselves and for others that are inevitably essential for the physical and spiritual health and happiness of all mankind. No matter in whatever walk of life we may find ourselves, we must exercise our muscles or they will become weak and useless; we must stir and interest our hearts or they will grow hard and unresponsive; we must use our minds or they will become dull and inactive; we must employ our consciences or they will grow to be blind and unsafe guides that must lead us into dark distress.
But to be employed does not mean that we must necessarily work in the fields, or in the factory, or in the office. There are a thousand ways in which we may serve the world. The only requirement is that we shall devote a portion of our time and energy to genuine service in behalf of our brothers, our sisters, our parents, our teachers, our friends, and all the world. And we must be grateful for the chance to serve others and deem it an opportunity rather than an obligation.
And above all, we must find delight in the work we are privileged to do. "Every one should enjoy life," writes the ever glad and inspiring pen guided by the hand of Patrick Flynn: "Life was made to enjoy. We mean life, itself. The very living and breathing. It is a divine pleasure to inhale a breath of fragrant air out here in the country these charming summer mornings. And what jewels can compare in color or brilliancy with the pearly dewdrops that shine and glisten in the early sun! And the sun, itself! The great, mysterious, miraculous sun! Its myriads of vibrations dancing in the warm air like golden fairies and dazzling one's eyes with their wondrous beauty! Aye, and filling one's soul with love and one's body with health. And in the evening when the day's work is done there is above us that mysterious depth of star-spangled sky. We cannot fathom its mystery but like a stream of grace descending from heaven, we can feel the cool, refreshing dew on our upturned brow. Until at last we feel that we should like to take wing and actually fly up among those unknown worlds and come back with the story to our readers. And even though we cannot grow the wings, we go up in fancy and seldom come back without some new tale. The message is: 'Live life, love life, enjoy life, if you would overcome all fear of death.'"
That is the spirit in which we should look upon all the beauty and wonder about us. To-morrow will ever be a joyous hope and yesterday a golden memory, if we are thoughtful regarding the manner in which we live
Let's live to-day so it shall be, When shrined within the memory, As free from self-inflicted sorrows As are our hopes of our to-morrows.
There are many who make the serious mistake of thinking that joyousness and cheerfulness are only for the play hour and are not to be made a part and factor of the time we must devote to toil. No view could be more faulty and regrettable. It is in our working hours that we should seek to be cheerful and sunshiny. All of our tasks should be sweetened and glorified with the leaven of good humor.
The task seems never very long If measured with a smile and song.
Listen while one faithful worker, Emory Belle, tells us how she carried the spirit of good cheer to her daily tasks and what came of it:
"I started out to my work one morning, determined to try the power of cheerful thinking (I had been moody long enough). I said to myself: 'I have often observed that a happy state of mind has a wonderful effect upon my physical make-up, so I will try its effect upon others, and see if my right thinking can be brought to act upon them.' You see, I was curious. As I walked along, more and more resolved on my purpose, and persisting that I was happy, that the world was treating me well, I was surprised to find myself lifted up, as it were; my carriage became more erect, my step lighter, and I had the sensation of treading on air. Unconsciously, I was smiling, for I caught myself in the act once or twice. I looked into the faces of the women I passed and there saw so much trouble and anxiety, discontent, even to peevishness, that my heart went out to them, and I wished I could impart to them a wee bit of the sunshine I felt pervading me.
"Arriving at the office, I greeted the book-keeper with some passing remark, that for the life of me I could not have made under different conditions, I am not naturally witty; it immediately put us on a pleasant footing for the day; she had caught the reflection. The president of the company I was employed by was a very busy man and much worried over his affairs, and at some remark that he made about my work I would ordinarily have felt quite hurt (being too sensitive by nature and education); but this day I had determined nothing should mar its brightness, so replied to him cheerfully. His brow cleared, and there was another pleasant footing established, and so throughout the day I went, allowing no cloud to spoil its beauty for me or others about me. At the kind home where I was staying the same course was pursued, and, where before I had felt estrangement and want of sympathy, I found congeniality and warm friendship. People will meet you half-way if you will take the trouble to go that far.
"So, my sisters, if you think the world is not treating you kindly don't delay a day, but say to yourselves: 'I am going to keep young in spite of my gray hairs; even if things do not always come my way I am going to live for others, and shed sunshine across the pathway of all I meet.' You will find happiness springing up like flowers around you, will never want for friends or companionship, and above all the peace of God will rest upon your soul."
And all of this was brought about by a change in the attitude of the mind and a determination to look upon the sunshiny, rather than the dark, side of life. We can all do as much. It is for us to say whether we will be happy and make others happy, or whether we shall be distressed and thereby distress others.
What sort of girl are you going to be? Are you going to make the world glad or sorry that you are in it? Why don't you decide, as you read these lines, as did Emory Belle when starting to her work that morning, that you will try to carry sunshine and not gloom into the lives of all you meet? Let us hope that there is no great reform in this matter to be worked in your life; but that you have ever been a joy-bringer and not a gloom-maker.
Therefore let us look well to the attitude of mind and our habit of looking at things. One of our careful students of human attributes tells us—and the truth of which we all know—"that there is nothing surer than that we go and grow in just that direction in which our mind is most firmly fixed. Hoarding money absorbs the whole time and mind of the miser; how to scatter it is the chief thought of the spendthrift. Our daily actions, and their result on our lives, are the effect of a cause—and that cause is invariably our previous thought. What you think most of to-day will be most likely what you will repeat to-morrow. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that we begin to think as deeply as possible on just those things that build us up. Half the work is already done if we can only concentrate our minds on that which we desire to do. It is the mind that drags us either up or down. Where that leads we follow. The power of direction is with us, but we cannot send our mind in one direction and then take the opposite road ourselves. Therefore, whether we are moving upward or downward in the scale of life depends on whether we are thinking up or thinking down. This is a truth that every person's experience will prove to his own satisfaction. Thought impels action, action forms habit, and habit rules our lives. So that no matter what direction we may wish to take, up or down, it is only necessary for us to fix our mind in the desired direction."
So let us pause and take an account of stock and ascertain whether we are thinking ourselves up or down, whether we are building truthfully or falsely, whether we are going forward or backward,
JUST THIS MINUTE
If we're thoughtful, just this minute, In whate'er we say or do; If we put a purpose in it That is honest, through and through, We shall gladden life and give it Grace to make it all sublime; For, though life is long, we live it Just this minute at a time.
Just this minute we are going Toward the right or toward the wrong, Just this minute we are sowing Seeds of sorrow or of song. Just this minute we are thinking On the ways that lead to God, Or in idle dreams are sinking To the level of the clod.
Yesterday is gone, to-morrow Never comes within our grasp; Just this minute's joy or sorrow, That is all our hands may clasp. Just this minute! Let us take it As a pearl of precious price, And with high endeavor make it Fit to shine in paradise.
One who finds joy in the doing of things can work more easily and steadily than one who works unwillingly and unhappily. Good nature is a lubricant for all the wheels of life. It changes the leaden feet of duty into the airy wings of opportunity, it not only brings happiness but that almost necessary adjunct of happiness,—health.
"In the maintenance of health and the cure of disease," says Dr. A. J. Sanderson, "cheerfulness is a most important factor. Its power to do good like a medicine is not an artificial stimulation of the tissues, to be followed by reaction and greater waste, as is the case with many drugs; but the effect of cheerfulness is an actual life-giving influence through a normal channel the results of which reach every part of the system. It brightens the eye, makes ruddy the countenance, brings elasticity to the step, and promotes all the inner forces by which life is sustained. The blood circulates more freely, the oxygen comes to its home in the tissues, health is promoted, and disease is banished."
When we note how generally the members of the medical profession ascribe to cheerfulness the very highest of health-giving powers, we are led to think that the wise words quoted above possess a foundation of scientific fact. "Faith, hope and love," says Charles G. Ames, "are purifiers of the blood. They have a peptic quality. They open and enlarge all the channels of bodily vitality. As was learned long ago, 'A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.' And the self-control which keeps reason on the throne and makes passion serve is the best of all domestic physicians."
So the girl who would go down the paths of sunshine will put joy and enthusiasm into her work and into her play. She will practice her music lesson, take up her studies at school, assist in performing the household duties, and in doing the many tasks that come to her hands in a joyous, whole-hearted manner.
In so doing she will make a pleasure of that which, with dull complaining, would be a drag and a distress. By this cheerful attitude of mind she will be able to mold all things to her will and, better still, she will be able to mold her will to her highest ideal of splendid womanhood. For none can doubt that man is the architect of his own fortune, to a very great extent. He is even more than that, he is of his own self
I am the sculptor: I, myself, the clay, Of which I am to fashion, as I will, In deed and in desire, day by day, The pattern of my purpose, good or ill.
In breathless bronze nor the insensate stone Must my enduring passion find its goal; Within the living statue I enthrone That essence of eternity, the soul.
Nor space nor time that soul of yearning bars; It flashes to the zenith of the sky, And dwelling mid the mystery of the stars, Aspires to answer the Eternal Why.
It loves the pleasing note of lute and lyre, The lily's purple, the red rose's glow; It wonders at the witchery of the fire, And marvels at the magic of the snow.
"Who taught," it asks, "the ant to build her nest? The bee her cells? the hermit thrush to sing? The dove to plume his iridescent breast? The butterfly to paint his gorgeous wing?
"The spider how to spin so wondrous wise? The nautilus to form his chambered shell? The carrier-pigeon under alien skies, Who taught him how his homeward course to tell?"
By force or favor it would win from fate The sacred secret of the blood and breath: Learn all the hidden springs of love and hate, And gain dominion over life and death.
In every feature of this sculptured face Of spirit and of substance, I must mold The shining symbol of a grander grace; The hope toward which the centuries have rolled.
Oh, hands of mine that the unnumbered years Evolved from hoof and wing and claw and fin, 'T is ours to bring from out the stress and tears, A godlike figure fashioned from within.
[Transcriber's Note: Sidenote quotations from the preceeding chapter are gathered in this section.]
What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. —Emerson.
Gentle words, quiet words, are, after all, the most powerful words. —Washington Gladden.
Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something. —Thoreau.
Nothing will be mended by complaints.—Johnson.
Peace! Peace! How sweet the word and tender! Its very sound should wrangling discord still.—Nathan Haskell Dole.
The Spartans did not inquire how many the enemy are, but where they are.—Agis II.
The man in whom others believe is a power, but if he believes in himself he is doubly powerful.—Willis George Emerson.
The secrecy of success is constancy to purpose.—Disraeli.
Men talk about the indignity of doing work that is beneath them, but the only indignity that they should care for is the indignity of doing nothing.—W. R. Haweis.
Share your happiness with others, but keep your troubles to yourself. —Patrick Flynn.
Neither days, nor lives can be made noble or holy by doing nothing in them.—Ruskin.
Use thy youth as the springtime, wherein thou oughtest to plant and sow all provisions for a long and happy life.—Walter Raleigh.
To have ideas is to gather flowers; to think is to weave them into garlands.—Madame Swetchine.
When a firm decisive spirit is recognized, it is curious to see how the space clears around a man and leaves him room and freedom.—John Foster.
That person is blest who does his best and leaves the rest, so do not worry.—A. E. Winship.
Work is the best thing to make us love life.—Ernest Renan.
If you want to be miserable, think about yourself,—about what you want, what you like, what respect people ought to pay to you, and what people think of you.—Charles Kingsley.
Aspiration carries one half the way to one's desire.—Elizabeth Gibson.
The best thing is to do well what one is doing at the moment.—Pittacus.
To work and not to genius I owe my success.—Daniel Webster.
No thought is beautiful which is not just, and no thought can be just, that is not founded on truth.—Joseph Addison.
The loss of self-respect is the only true beggary.—John Lancaster Spalding.
The tactful person looks out for opportunities to be helpful, without being obtrusive.—Margaret E. Sangster.
It is labor alone, backed by a good conscience, that keeps us healthy, happy and sane.—Godfrey Blount.
Labor was truly said by the ancients to be the price which the gods set upon everything worth having.—Lord Avebury.
Our daily duties are a part of our religious life just as much as our devotions are.—Beecher.
Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.—Shakespeare.
The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling.—Thoreau.
Energy and determination have done wonders many a time.—Dickens.
Discretion of speech is more than eloquence: and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal is more than to speak in good words or in good order.—F. Bacon.
Bread of flour is good: but there is bread, sweet as honey, if we would eat it, in a good book.—John Ruskin.
What is wrong to-day won't be right to-morrow.—Dutch Proverb.
We are only so far worthy of esteem as we know how to appreciate. —Goethe.
We are grateful that abundant life lies waiting in the heart of winter, and there is no condition where life is not.—Isabel Goodhue.
Wishing will bring things in the degree that it incites you to go after them.—Muriel Strode.
It is impossible to estimate the power for good of a bright, glad shining face. Of all the lights you carry on your face Joy shines farthest out to sea.—Anonymous.
No one in this world of ours ever became great by echoing the voice of another, repeating what that other has said.—J. C. Van Dyke.
One fault mender equals twenty faultfinders.—Earl M. Pratt.
Let us then, be what we are, speak what we think, and in all things keep ourselves loyal to truth.—Longfellow.
There are some people whose smile, the sound of whose voice, whose very presence, seems like a ray of sunshine, to turn everything they touch into gold.—Lord Avebury.
It is work which gives flavor to life. Mere existence without object and without effort is a poor thing. Idleness leads to languor, and languor to disgust.—Amiel.
How poor are they who have only money to give!—John Lancaster Spalding.
Fear begets fear.—A. E. Winship.
What an absurd thing it is to pass over all the valuable parts of a man and fix our attention on his infirmities!—Addison.
There can be no true rest without work and the full delight of a holiday cannot be known except by the man who has earned it.—Hugh Black.
The more we do the more we can do; the more busy we are the more leisure we have.—Hazlitt.
Lost—a golden hour, set with sixty diamond minutes. There is no reward, for it is gone forever.—Beecher.
Good company and good conversation are the sinews of virtue.—Stephen Allen.
A triumph is the closing scene of a contest.—A. E. Winship.
Don't forget that the man who can but doesn't must give place to the man who can't but tries.—Comtelburo.
Advise well before you begin, and when you have maturely considered, then act with promptitude.—Sallust.
SOME EVERY-DAY VIRTUES
I would rather be right than president!"
At first thought those words seem to be the declaration of an unusually upright and conscientious person. But let us study them a little more deeply and closely.
The desire to do right and to deserve the approbation of all good people is very strong in every human breast. Not until a man has lost his moral sense of values would he trade his integrity and self-respect for any other gift the world could offer. This being true, who among us would care to be president if in order to occupy that exalted position he must be obviously in the wrong?
Thus we see that after all is said and done, the one great prize for which we all aspire is the love and good will of our friends and of the world. For no matter how much of wealth and fame may come to us, without the love and respect of our fellow beings we must ever remain poor and friendless.
He is the richest who deserves the most friends. Wealth is a matter of the heart and not of the pocket. A thousand slaves piling up wealth for their master cannot make him rich. It is not that which others do for us that makes us possessors of great wealth, but that which we do for others. All true riches are self made. Only when the hand and the heart are put into one's work does it yield a lasting worth. In the final true analysis the picture forever belongs to the painter who paints it; the poem to the poet who writes it; the loaf of bread to the toiler who earns it. Wealth may acquire these things but it cannot own them.
Therefore the true value of character is something that each must achieve for himself. It cannot be bought; it cannot be bequeathed to us; it must be earned by each individual who would possess it. Hence it is that these great riches may be acquired by all who desire to possess them.
Where are they to be found? Right here.
When may we obtain them? Right now.
Do you care to learn the only way in which you can come into possession of them? "Whoever you are—wise or foolish, rich or poor," says Rebecca Harding Davis, "God sent you into His world, as He sent every other human being, to help the men and women in it, to make them happier and better. If you do not do that, no matter what your powers may be, you are mere lumber, a worthless bit of world's furniture. A Stradivarius, if it hangs dusty and dumb upon the wall, is not of as much real value as a kitchen poker which is used."
So we learn that it is the fine practical spirit, content and willing to do the humble things which are possible of achievement that is doing most to lift the world to a higher and better plane. "Have you never met humble men and women," asks Gannett, "who read little, who knew little, yet who had a certain fascination as of fineness lurking about them? Know them, and you are likely to find them persons who have put so much thought and honesty and conscientious trying into their common work—it may be sweeping rooms, or planing boards, or painting walls—have put their ideals so long, so constantly, so lovingly into that common work of theirs, that finally these qualities have come to permeate not their work only, but so much of their being, that they are fine-fibred within, even if on the outside the rough bark clings."
If we are wisely introspective, we must reach the conclusion that humble though we may be, we are after all, a component part of the great expression of being, and that we are well worth while. Then if we are worth while, it follows that all we do is worth while, for each of us is, in the end, the sum of all the things he has done. Once we have this idea that everything stands for something more than the mere thing itself—that it is correlated in its influences with all the other things that we and all others are doing, we shall invest all our tasks, little and big, with more of purpose and importance. Emerson says:
"There is no end to the sufficiency of character. It can afford to wait; it can do without what it calls success; it cannot but succeed. To a well-principled man existence is victory. He defends himself against failure in his main design by making every inch of the road to it pleasant. There is no trifle and no obscurity to him: he feels the immensity of the chain whose last link he holds in his hand, and is led by it."
Perhaps no other every-day virtue counts for so much in the general welfare of the world as the adapting of one's self to, and the making the most of, one's immediate surroundings. It is in the hundreds of little, unrecorded deeds of kindness and goodness that we lay the foundations of character. And because these humble lives, that mean so much to the other humble lives with which they come into touch, are never specifically named and shouted by the multitudinous tongues of type, that many fail to see in them the elements of true and noble achievement with which they are crowned. "The most inspiring tales," it has been truly said, "are those that have not been written; the most heroic deeds are those that have not been told; the world's greatest successes have been won in the quiet of men's hearts, the noblest heroes are the countless thousands who have struggled and triumphed, rising on stepping-stones of their dead selves to higher things."
Since it is these humbler every-day virtues that one is called upon oftenest to exercise, or to neglect, it is apparent that the one who possesses the most of them and who cultivates them the most earnestly has the greatest number of opportunities of winning the admiration of others. It is of a girl possessing this fine adaptability to the world's workaday surroundings that "Amber" draws this pen-picture: "Shall I tell the kind of girl that I especially adore? Well, first of all, let us take the working girl. She is not a 'lady' in the acceptance of the term as it is employed by many members of this latter day's hybrid democracy. She is just a blithe, cheery, sweet-tempered young woman. She may have a father rich enough to support her at home, but for all that she is a working girl. She is never idle. She is studying or sewing or helping about the home part of the day. She is romping or playing or swinging out of doors the other part. She is never frowsy or untidy or lazy. She is never rude or slangy or bold. And yet she is always full of fun and ready for frolic. She does not depend upon a servant to do what she can do for herself. She is considerate toward all who serve her. She is reverent to the old and thoughtful of the feeble. She never criticises when criticism can wound, and she is ready with a helpful, loving word for every one. Sometimes she has no father, or her parents are too poor to support her. Then she goes out and earns her living by whatever her hands find to do. She clerks in a store, or she counts out change at a cashier's desk, or she teaches school, or she clicks a typewriter, or rather a telegrapher's key, but always and everywhere she is modest and willing and sweet.
"She has too much dignity to be imposed upon, or put to open affront, but she has humility also, and purity that differs from prudishness as a dove in the air differs from a stuffed bird in a showcase. She is quick to apologize when she knows she is in the wrong, yet no young queen ever carried a higher head than she can upon justifiable occasions. She is not always imagining herself looked down upon because she is poor. She knows full well that out of her own heart and mouth proceed the only witnesses that can absolve or condemn her. If she is quick to be courteous, unselfish, gentle and retiring in speech and manner in public places, she is true gold, even though her dress be faded and her hat a little out of style. You cannot mistake any such girl any more than you can mistake the sunshine that follows the rain or the lark that springs from the hawthorne hedge. All things that are blooming and sweet attend her! The earth is better for her passing through it and heaven will be fairer for her habitation therein."
How fortunate it is for us who would practice these little every-day virtues that we do not have to wait for some noted person at some remote time to tell the world that we are striving in our own humble way to be kind and thoughtful. There is some one within the sound of our voice and within the reach of our hand who will be glad to testify to our goodness.
Kindness is never shown in vain.
The gift blesses the giver, even though the one receiving the gift is ungrateful. Consciously or unconsciously we exert an influence upon all who come within the zone of our being. Surely those who know us best ought to be the ones to appreciate us the most intelligently. If we are lovable, will they not love us? If we love them, will it not serve to make them lovable? Let us not keep the nice little attentions and the carefully selected words for the stranger and the passer-by, but have as much regard for the ones of our own intimate family circle. We should be happy to do most for them who do most for us. One of our students of human happiness says to us: "Get into the way of idealizing what you have; let the picturesqueness of your own imagination play round the village where you do live, instead of the one where you wish to live; weave a romance round the brother you have got, instead of round the Prince Perfect of a husband whom you have not got." And Marcus Aurelius says: "Think not so much of what thou hast not, as of what thou hast; but of the things which thou hast, select the best, and then reflect how eagerly they would have been sought if thou had'st them not."
Culture, itself, is but a composite expression of our simple, every-day virtues. It must be measured by its outward manifestation of regard for the pleasure, happiness and advancement of others. Literary culture will open up the windows of the soul that the light of virtue from within may shine forth and dispel the darkness of vice with which it comes in contact. "Unless one's knowledge of good books—his literary scholarship—has so taken hold upon him as to make him exemplary, in a large measure, he cannot be said to be cultured," says one of our students of higher ethics. "His learning should cultivate a choice and beautiful address, a cheerful and loving countenance, a magnificent and spirited carriage, a refinement of manner, an agreeable presence."
The extent to which we may feel a sense of peaceful satisfaction at the end of a day, depends upon how we have lived that day. We soon learn that the day means most for us in which we do most for others. If we have lived for self alone, it has been
A LOST DAY
Count that day truly worse than lost You might have made divine, Through which you sprinkled bits of frost But never a speck of shine.
"At the end of life," says Hugh Black, "we shall not be asked how much pleasure we had in it, but how much service we gave in it; not how full it was of success, but how full it was of sacrifice; not how happy we were, but how helpful we were; not how ambition was gratified, but how love was served. Life is judged by love; and love is known by her fruits."
The every-day virtues include very many fine little traits that serve unconsciously to make our paths smoother, our skies bluer and all of life more glad and golden. They constitute a habit of doing the right thing at all times and so quietly and unostentatiously that no one is made to feel any sense of obligation. One who possesses these virtues does not wait for stated times and occasions to bestow evidences of love and good will upon others, but like a flower in bloom spreads the fine perfume of friendship upon all who come within the charmed presence. Intuitively and unconsciously does the owner of these virtues follow the precept set forth by the philosopher: "I shall pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." And in expressing the same sentiment Amiel says: "Do not wait to be just or pitiful or demonstrative towards those we love until they or we are struck down by illness or threatened with death. Life is short, and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh! be swift to love, make haste to be kind!" We should not wait till some sad experience has taught us the rare privilege we may now own of offering
A ROSE TO THE LIVING
A rose to the living is more Than sumptuous wreaths to the dead; In filling love's infinite store; A rose to the living is more, If graciously given before The hungering spirit is fled,— A rose to the living is more Than sumptuous wreaths to the dead.
Of all the homely virtues there is none more to be commended and desired than patience. This priceless quality of mind puts its possessor into friendly relations with whatever the surrounding conditions may chance to be. There is no irritation, no clash of interests, no lack of organization for performing to the best of one's ability the duties of the moment, as they present themselves for consideration. Nothing is so conducive to success as to be able, calmly and patiently, to do to the best of one's ability the tasks that present themselves. "Success in life," says one of our students of the world's problems, "depends far more upon the decision of character than upon the possession of what is called genius. The man who is perpetually hesitating as to which of two things he will do, will do neither." On the other hand the man who hastily and impatiently disposes of the problems that confront him also impairs his chances for making the best of life.
Have you ever experienced the sorry realization of how one petulant or peevish member of a household can destroy the happiness of a breakfast or dinner hour? What would otherwise have been a pleasant coming together of kindly congenial spirits is made painful and unprofitable because some one lacked the patience and forbearance to withstand and to surmount some little trial or irritation that should have been promptly dismissed from the mind and the heart, or better still, which never should have been permitted to enter. As has been truly observed, membership in the family involves the recognition that the normal life of the individual is to be found only in a perfect union with other members; in regard for their rights; in deference to their wishes; and in devotion to that common interest in which each member shares. Each member must live for the sake of the whole family. "Children owe to their parents obedience, and such service as they are able to render," says Dr. DeWitt Hyde. "Parents, on the other hand, owe to children support, training, and an education sufficient to give them a fair start in life. Brothers and sisters owe to each other mutual helpfulness and protection."
The patient disposition to do the best one can, this day, this hour, this very moment, counts for much in the building of a life. How perfectly is its whole purpose set forth in Channing's "Symphony," in which he so beautifully makes known his heart's desire: "To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury; and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony."
It is this rare sense of poise, this patient regard for our own happiness and that of others, that enables some sweet spirits to come as a balm for all the bruises that a busy world can put upon us. "There is no joy but calm." Until one has learned to do his work pleasantly and agreeably he has not mastered the most important part of his lesson. "Blessed is the man who finds joy in his work." He will succeed where the complaining, discontented person will be almost sure to fail. So, let us cultivate this one of the chiefest of our every-day virtues. It will enable us to give to every moment the proper regard for its value and of the possibilities it offers for achievement. It will teach us that during every day, every hour, every moment, there is time for politeness, for kindness, for gentleness, for the display of strength and tenderness and high purpose, and for the exercise of that degree of patience that does so much to make life big and broad and beautiful in
THIS BUSY WORLD
It is a very busy world in which we mortals meet, There are so many weary hands, so many tired feet; So many, many tasks are born with every morning's sun. And though we labor with a will the work seems never done. And yet for every moment's task there comes a moment's time: The burden and the strength to bear are like a perfect rhyme. The heart makes strong the honest hand, the will seeks out the way, Nor must we do to-morrow's work, nor yesterday's, to-day.
We scale the mountain's rugged side, not at one mighty leap, But step by step and breath by breath we climb the lofty steep. Each simple duty comes alone our willing strength to try; One little moment at a time and so the days go by. With strength to lift and heart to hope, we strive from sun to sun, A little here, a little there, and all our tasks are done; There's time to toil and time to sing and time for us to play, Nor must we do to-morrow's work, nor yesterday's, to-day.
[Transcriber's Note: Sidenote quotations from the preceeding chapter are gathered in this section.]
Each, whatever his estate, in his own unconscious breast bears the talisman of fate.—John Townsend Trowbridge.
When a man has not a good reason for doing a thing, he has one good reason for letting it alone.—Thomas Scott.
Once a body laughs he cannot be angry more.—James M. Barrie.
Success is usually the result of a sharpened sense of what is wanted. —Frank Moore Colby.
He that falls in love with himself, will have no rivals.—Benjamin Franklin.
A sinful heart makes a feeble hand.—Walter Scott.
Look within, for you have a lasting foundation of happiness at home that will always bubble up if you will but dig for it.—Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.
To a friend's house the road is never long.—Danish Proverb.
Honest toil is holy service; faithful work is praise and prayer. —Henry Van Dyke.
Give me the toiler's joy who has seen the sunlight burst on the distant turrets in the land of his desire.—Muriel Strode.
You can buy a lot of happiness with a mighty small salary, but fashionable happiness always costs just a little more than you're making.—George Horace Lorimer.
A tart temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.—Washington Irving.
Where there is one man who squints with his eyes, there are a dozen who squint with their brains.—Oliver Wendell Holmes.
When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.—Jonathan Swift.
What we have got to do is to keep up our spirits and be neighborly. We shall come all right in the end, never fear.—Dickens.
Happiness is the feeling we experience when we are too busy to be miserable.—Thomas L. Masson.
Duty is the sublimest word in the English language.—Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope.—Keller.
The activity and soundness of a man's actions will be determined by the activity and soundness of his thoughts.—Beecher.
What men want is not talent, it is purpose; not the power to achieve, but the will to labor.—Bulwer Lytton.
We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.—Longfellow.
The great hope of society is individual character.—Channing.
Concentrate all your thought upon the work in hand. The sun's rays do not burn until brought to a focus.—Alexander G. Bell.
Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your reputation, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.—George Washington.
The public school playground transposes many a boy from a public liability to a public asset.—A. E. Winship.
Real coolness and self-possession are the indispensable accompaniments of a great mind.—Dickens.
One of the crying needs of society is the revival of gentleness and of a refined considerateness in judging others.—Newell D. Hillis.
In this world inclination to do things is of more importance than the mere power.—Chapin.
Character lives in a man, reputation outside of him.—J. G. Holland.
Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings. —Johnson.
Patience is a necessary ingredient of genius.—Disraeli.
Follow your honest convictions and be strong.—Thackeray.
Admonish your friends privately, but praise them openly.—Publius Syrus.
Economy is of itself a great revenue.—Comtelburo.
Grace is the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul. —Hazlitt.
Our grand business undoubtedly is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.—Carlyle.
Pull on the oar and not on your influential friends.—A. E. Winship.
The noblest mind the best contentment hath.—Spenser.
To be usefully and hopefully employed is one of the great secrets of happiness.—Smiles.
The man who has begun to live more seriously within, begins to live more simply without.—Phillips Brooks.
Everything in this world depends upon will.—Disraeli.
A man is valued according to his own estimate of himself.—Comtelburo.
All men wish to have truth on their side; but few to be on the side of truth.—Whately.
Mightier than all the world, the clasp of one small hand upon the heart.—John Townsend Trowbridge.
The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.—Napoleon.
Character must stand behind and back up everything—the sermon, the poem, the picture, the play. None of them is worth a straw without it.—J. G. Holland.
The question every morning is not how to do the gainful thing, but how to do the just thing.—John Ruskin.
Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery.—Matthew Arnold.
I hate a thing done by halves. If it be right, do it boldly; if it be wrong, leave it undone.—Gilpin.
What we need most is not so much to realize the ideal as to idealize the real.—F. H. Hedge.
THE VALUE OF SUNSHINE
Do people like you?
Are your girl playmates and classmates fond of your society? Are they eager to work with you, play with you, go strolling or sit by the fire with you?
This one fact we must know; if we are not liked it must be because we are not the possessors of that fine quality known as "likableness." And if those who have had an opportunity to know us and our traits of character do not love and admire us, it is we and not they who are responsible for their state of mind. For as sure as the warm sunshine attracts the flowers, and the fragrant flowers call the attention of the bee to their store of honey, so a fine likable character is certain to gain and to hold the admiration of good friends and true.
The face full of sunshine, the heart full of hope, the lips that are speaking pleasant words of good cheer and joyous faith in the world, will attract friends about them as certainly as the magnetic pole attracts the needle.
The girl who goes among the people with smiles to offer will find very many ready to receive her gracious gifts, but if she carries with her sighs and frowns, instead, she will learn that the world wants none of them.
We all love to hear pleasant things. The one who tells us that he thinks it is going to set in for a long rainy spell of weather is of less worth to us than the one who says he thinks that the clouds are going to clear away and that we shall have a beautiful day to-morrow.
The grandsire who tells his young friends that they ought to be glad that the grandest, brightest and best era in the world's history is just before them, does much more to inspire them than does the one who tells them that the best days of the world were "the good old days of long ago," and that the golden age will never return again. Brooke Herford tells us: "There are some people who ride all through the journey of life with their backs to the horse's head.
They are always looking into the past. All the worth of things is there. They are forever talking about the good old times, and how different things were when they were young. There is no romance in the world now, and no heroism. The very winters and summers are nothing to what they used to be; in fact, life is altogether on a small, commonplace scale. Now that is a miserable sort of thing; it brings a sort of paralyzing chill over the life, and petrifies the natural spring of joy that should ever be leaping up to meet the fresh new mercies that the days keep bringing."
Know then, my young friends, that the best time that ever was is the present time, if you will but use it aright. It is full of romance, of heroism, of splendid opportunity, of all that goes to constitute experience and to develop character. There never was a time when there were more good things to be done, or when greater rewards awaited the doers of them. The summers are just as long and bright and golden; the roses blossom just as numerously and as sweetly; human hearts are just as warm and kindly, as they have been at any time in the world's history. Emerson says: "One of the illusions is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the whole year."
So then as far as the time and the hour are concerned, there is nothing in our surroundings to make us morose or gloomy or dispirited or indifferent regarding the influence we are exerting upon those around us. There is no obvious reason why we should not be joyous and happy at the prospect before us. We should have not only grace enough for our own personal needs, but plenty of it to spare for those not so gladly born as ourselves.
And rich beyond computation is the one who has joyousness to spare. Better than gold, better than food and raiment and all material things, betimes, is a ray of sunshine from the heart, an uplift of saving humor from a merry tongue. "I have often felt, myself," says Benson, "that the time has come to raise another figure to the hierarchy of Christian graces. Faith, Hope and Charity were sufficient in a more elementary and barbarous age, but, now that the world has broadened somewhat, I think an addition to the trio is demanded. A man may be faithful, hopeful, and charitable, and yet leave much to be desired. He may be useful, no doubt, with that equipment, but he may also be both tiresome and even absurd. The fourth quality that I should like to see raised to the highest rank among the Christian graces is the Grace of Humor."
Splendidly blest is that household that is so fortunate as to possess at least one member gifted with the grace of good humor. One such person in a home is enough if there cannot be more. Just when all the others are seriously confronting what seems to be a most sad and serious condition of affairs how just one word of illuminating good humor can change the whole point of view and send the foreboding proposition glimmering into nothingness. "Do you know, my dear," says Mrs. Holden, "that there is absolutely nothing that will help you to bear the ills of life so well as a good laugh? Laugh all you can and the small imps in blue who love to preempt their quarters in a human heart will scatter away like owls before the music of flutes.
There are few of the minor difficulties and annoyances that will not dissipate at the charge of the nonsense brigade. If the clothes line breaks, if the cat tips over the milk and the dog elopes with the roast, if the children fall into the mud simultaneously with the advent of clean aprons, if the new girl quits in the middle of housecleaning, and though you search the earth with candles you find none to take her place, if the neighbor you have trusted goes back on you and decides to keep chickens, if the chariot wheels of the uninvited guest draw near when you are out of provender, and the gaping of your empty purse is like the unfilled mouth of a young robin, take courage if you have enough sunshine in your heart, to keep the laugh on your lips. Before good nature, half the cares of daily living will fly away like midges before the wind. Try it."
What a world of inspiration and cheerfulness in the motto written by Edward Everett Hale for the Lend-A-Hand Society: "Look up, and not down; look forward, and not back; look out, and not in; and lend a hand." It is the lifting of the burden from another's tired shoulder that does most to lighten the load resting on our own.