The Girl Wanted
by Nixon Waterman
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
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 nationa 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.
CHAPTER PAGE. 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
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
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
CHAPTER I. 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 neededwords 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
And so here we find ourselves, just at this particular spot and at
this very moment, with all of the days, months, yearsyes, the whole
of eternitystill 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
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
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 excessjust the quantity you are able to
accomplish each dayit 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
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.
[Illustration: QUEEN VICTORIA]
[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.
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
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 methat 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
Each day should be distinguished by at least one particular act of
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
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 ifthe thing is to do them without.
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.
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
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
Suffering becomes beautiful, when any one bears great calamities
with cheerfulness, not through insensibility, but through greatness of
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
Truth is always consistent with itself, and needs nothing to help it
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
He overcomes a stout enemy that overcomes his own anger.Chilo.
Good company and good conversation are the sinews of virtue.
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.
If you are doing any real good you cannot escape the reward of your
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.
CHAPTER II. ACCOMPLISHMENTS
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
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
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
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 aboutthey 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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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 anotherthe ability
to speak a pleasant word to those whom we may meetwe 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
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.
[Illustration: HARRIET BEECHER STOWE]
[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
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
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
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
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.
Genius is the transcendent capacity for taking trouble first of all.
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 powerthe 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.
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
Indulge not in vain regrets for the past, in vainer resolves for the
futureact, act in the present.F. W. Robertson.
The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in our power.Hugh
The man who cannot be practical and mix his religion with his
business is either in the wrong religion or in the wrong
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.
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
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.
Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness
We would willingly have others perfect and yet we amend not our own
faults.Thomas à Kempis.
The most manifold sign of wisdom is continued cheer.Montaigne.
There is only one cure for public distressand that is public
education, directed to make men thoughtful, merciful, and just.
To believe a business impossible is the way to make it so.Wade.
CHAPTER III. 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
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, happylet them have all things in abundance and felicity
that heart can wish and desire,all contentmentso 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
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
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
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 usand the truth of which we all knowthat 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
causeand 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
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
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
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.
[Illustration: LOUISA M. ALCOTT]
[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.
Gentle words, quiet words, are, after all, the most powerful words.
Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.
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
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
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
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
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
The best thing is to do well what one is doing at the
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
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
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.
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
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
The more we do the more we can do; the more busy we are the more
leisure we have.Hazlitt.
Losta 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
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.
CHAPTER IV. 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
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
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 arewise 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 workit may be sweeping rooms, or planing boards, or painting
wallshave 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
itselfthat 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
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
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
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
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 bookshis
literary scholarshiphas 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
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
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
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
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.
[Illustration: From a Photograph, Copyright, 1902, by J. E. Purdy,
Boston JULIA WARD HOWE]
[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
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
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
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.
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done
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.
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
Economy is of itself a great revenue.Comtelburo.
Grace is the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul.
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
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
All men wish to have truth on their side; but few to be on the side
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 everythingthe 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
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.
CHAPTER V. 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
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.
No one who truly is conscious of the value of sunshine upon his own
nature and upon the spirits of those with whom he comes into contact
will ever, for one minute, permit himself to be taken possession of by
Blues are the sorry calms that come
To make our spirits mope,
And steal the breeze of promise from
The shining sails of hope.
Margaret E. Sangster, who is the kind and gracious foster mother to
all the girls of her time and generation, says that being in bondage
to the blues is precisely like being lost in a London fog. The latter
is thick and black and obliterates familiar landmarks. A man may be
within a few doors of his home, yet grope hopelessly through the murk
to find the well-worn threshold. A person under the tyranny of the
blues is temporarily unable to adjust life to its usual limitations. He
or she cannot see an inch beyond the dreadful present. Everything looks
dark and forbidding, and despair with an iron clutch pins its victim
down. People think, loosely, that trials that may be weighed and
measured and felt and handled are the worst trials to which flesh is
heir. But they are mistaken. Hearts are elastic, and real sorrows
seldom crush them. Souls have in them a wonderful capacity for
recovering after knockdown blows. It is the intangible, the thing that
one dreads vaguely, that catches one in the dark, that suggests and
intimates a peril that is spiritual rather than mortal; it is the
burden that carries dismay and terror to the imagination.
A single member of a household who is given to having the blues
often darkens a home that would otherwise be bright and sunny. Such an
unfortunate person should bear in mind that when a servant is employed
the whole household expects her to be kind, tidy, industrious, moral,
gentle, and, above all, good natured in her attitude toward all. Surely
the daughter of a household cannot wish to feel that she holds her
position by accident of birth, and that if her family were not
compelled to keep her they would not.
Charles Dickens says: It is not possible to know how far the
influence of any amiable, honest-hearted, duty-doing man flows out into
the world. A bright, cheerful, sunshiny daughter in a home can never
know how great is her influence for making the little household world
holier and happier for all whose life interests are centered therein.
Hamilton Wright Mabie says: The day is dark only when the mind is
dark; all weathers are pleasant when the heart is at rest. Bliss
Carman observes that happiness, perhaps, comes by the grace of Heaven,
but the wearing of a happy countenance, the preserving of a happy mien,
is a duty, not a blessing. This thought that it is one's duty to be
happy is set forth still more forcibly by Lilian Whiting: No one has
any more right to go about unhappy than he has to go about ill-bred.
The girl with sunshine in her thoughts and sunshine in her eyes will
find sunshine everywhere. Wherever she may go her gracious presence
will light the way and make her every path more smooth and beautiful.
In the home, in the school, amid whatever conditions surround her, she
will shine with the glow of a rose in bloom. She will see the good and
the beautiful in the persons whom she meets; while all the charms of
nature, as portrayed in field and forest, will be to her a never-ending
source of interest and enjoyment. Above all, she will warmly cherish
life and look upon it as being crowded with priceless opportunities for
obtaining happiness for herself and for others. She will be filled with
the same exhuberant spirit of joy in the mere fact of her being that
Mrs. Holden so happily sets forth: I love this world. I never walk out
in the morning when all its radiant colors are newly washed with dew,
or at splendid noon, when, like an untired racer, the sun has flashed
around his mid-day course, or at evening, when a fringe of a shadow,
like the lash of a weary eye, droops over mountain and valley and sea,
or in the majestic pomp of night when stars swarm together like bees,
and the moon clears its way through the golden fields as a sickle
through the ripened wheat, that I do not hug myself for very joy that I
am yet alive. What matter if I am poor and unsheltered and costumeless?
Thank God, I am yet alive! People who tire of this world before they
are seventy and pretend that they are ready to leave it, are either
crazy or stuck as full of bodily ailments as a cushion is of pins. The
happy, the warm-blooded, the sunny-natured and the loving cling to life
as petals cling to the calyx of a budding rose. By and by, when the
rose is over-ripe, or when the frosts come and the November winds are
trumpeting through all the leafless spaces of the woods, will be time
to die. It is no time now, while there is a dark space left on earth
that love can brighten, while there is a human lot to be alleviated by
a smile, or a burden to be lifted with a sympathizing tear.
We all understand that it is not so difficult for us to be bright
and smiling and gracious toward everyone when there is naught to
disturb the serenity of our thoughts, and when nothing happens to
interfere with the fulfillment of our wishes. But when things go at
sixes and sevens, when our dearest purposes are thwarted, when some
one is about to gain the place or prize which we covet, when we are
forced to stay within doors when we very much prefer to go in the
fields; then it requires more of character, more of strength, more of
the true spirit of sacrifice to wear a smiling face and to maintain a
cheerful heart. But instead of fleeing from the petty trials that cross
our paths we should welcome them as opportunities for testing and
strengthening our good purposes. Newcomb tells us: Disappointment
should always be taken as a stimulant, and never viewed as a
discouragement. To the sunshiny, philosophical person, trials and
difficulties but serve to help him to develop into
THE PRIZE WINNER
Oh, the man who wins the prize
Is the one who bravely tries,
As he works his way amid the toil and stress,
Through the college of Hard Knocks,
So to hew his stumbling-blocks,
They will serve as stepping-stones toward success.
Sunshine has ever been deemed by the close students of life as a
most essential element in the achievement of the highest and fullest
success. The optimist sees open paths leading to pleasant and
prosperous fields of endeavor where the pessimist can see no way out of
the hopeless surroundings amid which he has been thrust by an unkind
fate. The disposition to seize upon the opportunities lying close at
hand and to believe that the here and now is full of sunshine and
golden possibilities has carried many a one to success, where others,
lacking the illumination born of good cheer and a hope well grounded in
a broad and beautiful faith, have sat complainingly by the way and
permitted the golden chances to go by unobserved.
Born of only ordinary capacity, but of extraordinary persistency,
said Professor Maria Mitchell, the distinguished astronomer, in the
later years of her life in looking back upon her career. But she added,
with a simplicity as rare as it is pleasing: I did not quite take this
in, myself, until I came to mingle with the best girls of our college,
and to become aware how rich their mines are and how little they have
been worked. At sixteen she left school, and at eighteen accepted the
position of librarian of the Nantucket public library. Her duties were
light and she had ample opportunity, surrounded as she was by books, to
read and study, while leisure was also left her to pursue by practical
observation the science in which she afterward became known. Those who
dwell upon the smaller islands, among which must be classed Nantucket,
her island home, learn almost of necessity to study the sea and the
sky. The Mitchell family possessed an excellent telescope. From
childhood Maria had been accustomed to the use of this instrument,
searching out with its aid, the distant sails upon the horizon by day,
and viewing the stars by night. Her father possessed a marked taste for
astronomy, and carried on an independent series of observations. He
taught his daughter all he knew, and what was more to her advancement,
she applied herself to the study and made as much independent
advancement as was possible for her to do. It was this cheerful
willingness to make the most of her immediate surroundings that proved
to be the secret of her world-wide fame in after years when her name
was included with those of the other prominent astronomers of the
world. At half past ten of the evening of October First, 1847, she made
the discovery which first brought her name before the public. She was
gazing through her glass with her usual quiet intentness when she was
suddenly startled to perceive an unknown comet, nearly vertical above
Polaris, about five degrees. At first she could not believe her eyes;
then hoping and doubting, scarcely daring to think that she had really
made a discovery, she obtained its right ascension and declination. She
then told her father, who gave the news to the other astronomers and to
the world, and her claim to the discovery was duly accepted and ever
after stood to her lasting credit. But had she not been interested in
her work and competent to seize upon and to make the most of the
opportunity that presented itself, she would not have been able to make
herself the first of all the beings of our earth to observe and record
this strange visitant to our starry realms above us.
It is the faith which the sunshiny spirit has in the worth
whileness of life and its possibilities that makes him or her who
possesses it prepare for the best that is to come. It is because of the
preparedness achieved by labor that men and women are able to seize
upon and make the most of the lucky chance that may bring them
happiness and success.
While Thomas A. Edison was yet a youth, the desire to make himself
of worth to the world and to be able to do something that would make
him a living while he was still fitting himself for better things, he
spent the leisure which most boys would spend in idleness or
purposeless pastime in learning the telegrapher's code. Later on this
knowledge gave him work which enabled him to gain experience as a
telegraph operator, which in turn led to his invention of the
quadruplex telegraph. But the invention was temporarily a failure,
although later on a great success. Sorely reduced in circumstances, he
was one day tramping the streets of New York without a cent.
I happened one day, he says, into the office of a 'gold ticker'
company which had about five hundred subscribers. I was standing beside
the apparatus when it gave a terrific rip-roar and suddenly stopped. In
a few minutes hundreds of messenger boys blocked up the doorway and
yelled for some one to fix the tickers in the office. The man in charge
of the place was completely upset; so I stepped up to him and said: 'I
think I know what's the matter.' I removed a loose contact spring that
had fallen between the wheels; the machine went on. The result? I was
appointed to take charge of the service at three hundred dollars a
month. When I heard what the salary was I almost fainted. It had been
his hopeful, cheerful, expectant attitude toward the future that had
ever prompted him to fit himself so well that when the opportunity
offered itself he was able to show that he possessed the grasp of
things that made him
There's a day, there's an hour, a moment of time
When Fate shall be willing to try us;
This one test of our worth and our purpose sublime,
It will not, it cannot deny us.
'Tis our right to demand one true crisis, else how
Shall we prove by our valor undaunted
That we merit the wreath Fortune lays on the brow
Of the man who is there when he's wanted?
And whene'er Opportunity knocks at his door
The wise one's glad greeting is, Ready!
He has garnered, of knowledge, an adequate store,
His purpose is seasoned and steady.
With soul and with spirit, with hand and with heart,
And with strength that he never has vaunted,
He is fashioned and fitted to compass his part,
Is the man who is there when he's wanted.
The world is a stage and our lives are a play
And the role that is given us in it
May be grand or obscure, yet there comes the great day
When we speak its best lines for a minute.
And the dream that through all of life's trials and tears,
The soul, like soft music, has haunted,
Comes true, and the world gives its smiles and its cheers
To the man who is there when he's wanted.
[Illustration: ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING]
[Transcriber's Note: Sidenote quotations from the preceeding chapter
are gathered in this section.]
Kind words are worth much and they cost little.Proverb.
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your
thoughts. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.
Always laugh when you can; it is a cheap medicine. Merriment is a
philosophy not well understood. It is the sunny side of existence.
To do something, however small, to make others happier and better,
is the highest ambition, the most elevating hope, which can inspire a
human being.Lord Avebury.
Happiness gives us the energy which is the basis of all health.
Not in the clamour of the crowded streets, not in the shouts and
plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves are triumph and defeat.
A man should always keep learning somethingalways, as Arnold
said, keep the stream runningwhereas most people let it stagnate
about middle life.Anonymous.
A smile passes current in every country as a mark of distinction.
Joe Mitchell Chapple.
The thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.
No man ever sunk under the burden of the day. It is when to-morrow's
burden is added to the burden of to-day that the burden is more than a
man can bear.George MacDonald.
Though sorrow must come, where is the advantage of rushing to meet
it? It will be time enough to grieve when it comes; meanwhile, hope for
All my old opinions were only stages on the way to the one I now
hold, as itself is only a stage on the way to something else.R. L.
Hasten slowly, and, without losing heart, put your work twenty times
upon the anvil.Boileau.
Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-controlthese three alone lead
life to sovereign power.Tennyson.
It is curious to what an extent our happiness or unhappiness depends
upon the manner in which we view things.E. C. Burke.
Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than
they love truth.Joubert.
Truth is tough; it will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay,
you may kick it about all day like a football, and it will be round and
full at evening.Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.Emerson.
The aids to noble life are all within.Matthew Arnold.
Nothing is difficult; it is only we who are indolent.B. R. Haydon.
It is a serious thing that we should see the full beauty of our
lives only when they are passed or in visions of a possible future.
What we most need is to see and feel the beauty and joy of
to-day.Maurice D. Conway.
Let us enjoy the scenery of the present moment. The landscape around
the bend will still be there when our life-train arrives.Horatio W.
If we cannot get what we like let us try to like what we can get.
Men continually forget that happiness is a condition of the mind and
not a disposition of circumstances.Lecky.
If you would know the political and moral condition of a people, ask
as to the condition of its women.Aime Martin.
Delicacy in woman is strength.Lichtenberg.
Who has not experienced how, on nearer acquaintance, plainness
becomes beautified, and beauty loses its charm, according to the
quality of the heart and mind.Fredrika Bremer.
Her voice was ever soft, gentle and low,an excellent thing in
Gentleness, cheerfulness, and urbanity are the Three Graces of
manners.Marguerite de Valois.
To have what we want is riches, but to be able to do without is
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can
afford to let alone.Thoreau.
In truth, how could I feel this gladness now had I not known the
bitterness of woe.Alicia K. Van Buren.
Of all the joys we can bring into our own lives there is none so
joyous as that which comes to us as the result of caring for others and
brightening sad lives.E. C. Burke.
Human improvement is from within outward.Froude.
Cheerfulness and content are great beautifiers, and are famous
preservers of good looks.Dickens.
The law of true living is toil.J. R. Miller.
We may make the best of life, or we may make the worst of it, and it
depends very much upon ourselves whether we extract joy or misery from
Every optimist moves along with progress and hastens it, while every
pessimist would keep the world at a standstill.Helen Keller.
He that riseth late, must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake
his business at night.Benjamin Franklin.
It is great folly not to part with your own faults, which is
possible, but to try instead to escape from other people's faults,
which is impossible.Marcus Aurelius.
Labor is discovered to be the grand conquerer, enriching and
building up nations more surely than the proudest battles.William
It is easier to leave the wrong thing unsaid than to unsay
it.George Horace Lorimer.
Work is the inevitable condition of human life, the true source of
If you want knowledge, you must toil for it; and if pleasure, you
must toil for it. Toil is the law. Pleasure comes through toil, and not
by self-indulgence and indolence. When one gets to love work, his life
is a happy one.Ruskin.
One of the grandest things in having rights is that, being your
rights, you may give them up.George MacDonald.
Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important
in some respects, whether he chooses to be or not.Hawthorne.
Expediency is man's wisdom. Doing right is God's.George Meredith.
Diamonds are found only in the dark places of the earth; truths are
found only in the depths of thought.Victor Hugo.
I simply declare my determination not to feed on the broth of
literature when I can get strong soup.George Eliot.
A thousand words leave not the same deep print as does a single
Womanthe crown of creation.Herder.
Harmony is the essence of power as well as beauty.A. E. Winship.
Be faithful to thyself, and fear no other witness but thy fear.
To give heartfelt praise to noble actions is, in some measure,
making them our own.La Rochefoucauld.
CHAPTER VI. A MERRY HEART
Who among us can presume to estimate the value of a merry heart?
What a perpetual blessing it is to its possessor and to all who must
come into close relationship with the owner of it!
There is nothing more pleasantly catching than happiness. The
happy person serves to make all about him or her the more happy. What
the bright, inspiring sunshine adds to the beauty of the fields, a
happy disposition adds to the charm of all the incidents and
experiences of one's daily life.
Do not you, whose eyes are perusing these lines, love to associate
with a friend possessing a cheerful disposition? And do you not
intuitively refrain from meeting with the unfortunate one whose looks
and words are heavy with complainings or whose eyes fail to see the
beauty of the world lying all about? And if we are given to wise
thinking we must reach the conclusion that as we regard these
attributes in others, so others must regard them in us.
Nothing is more eloquent than a beautiful face. It is the open
sesame to all our hearts. A sunshiny face melts away all opposition and
finds the word Welcome written over the doorways where the face
wearing a hard, unfriendly look sees only the warning, No Admittance.
But a smile that is only skin deep is not a true smile, but only a
superficial grin. A true smile comes all the way from the heart. It
bears its message of good will and friendliness. It is a mute
salutation of good luck and happy days to you! and it makes whoever
receives it better and stronger for the hour.
The genuine smile is closely related to, and is a part of, that
laughter which beams and sparkles in the eye and makes the little,
cheerful, smiling lines in the face that are so quickly and easily
distinguished from the lines that are the outward sign of an unhappy
Many centuries ago that wise and admirable philosopher, Epictetus,
discovered that happiness is not in strength, or wealth, or power; or
all three. It lies in ourselves, in true freedom, in the conquest of
every ignoble fear, in perfect self-government, in a power of
contentment and peace, and the even flow of life, even in poverty,
exile, disease and the very valley of the shadow.
One of the happiest observers of life and its higher purposesAnne
Gilchristsays: I used to think it was great to disregard happiness,
to press to a high goal, careless, disdainful of it. But now I see
there is nothing so great as to be capable of happiness,to pluck it
out of each moment, and, whatever happens, to find that one can ride as
gay and buoyant on the angry, menacing, tumultuous waves of life as on
those that glide and glitter under a clear sky; that it is not defeat
and wretchedness which comes out of the storms of adversity, but
strength and calmness.
The strongest incentive for the cultivation of a merry heart is that
it is a duty as well as a delight. Sydney Smith has very wisely
observed that mankind is always happier for having been happy; so that
if you make them happy now, you may make them happy twenty years hence
by the memory of it.
True happiness has about it no suggestion of selfishness. The
genuinely happy person is the one who would have all the world to be
happy. Is there any happiness in the world like the happiness of a
disposition made happy by the happiness of others? asks Faber. There
is no joy to be compared with it. The luxuries which wealth can buy,
the rewards which ambition can obtain, the pleasures of art and
scenery, the abounding sense of health and the exquisite enjoyment of
mental creations are nothing to this pure and heavenly happiness, where
self is drowned in the blessings of others.
One of the most heavenly attributes of happiness is that it begets
more happiness not only in ourselves but in others about us. It has in
it an uplift and a strength that enables us to build the stronger
to-day against the distress that would beset us to-morrow.
Health and happiness are terms that are so often closely linked in
our speech and in our literature. One is almost a synonym for the
other. Perhaps the true significance existing between the two would be
more correctly stated were we to reverse the form in which they are
usually set forth and say happiness and health instead. All observers
of human nature and its many complex attributes are convinced that
happiness is the fountain spring of health.
One of our keenest students of life tells us that small annoyances
are the seeds of disease. We cannot afford to entertain them. They are
the bacteria,the germs that make serious disturbance in the system,
and prepare the way for all derangements. They furnish the mental
conditions which are manifested later in the blood, the tissues, and
the organs, under various pathological names. Good thoughts are the
only germicide. We must kill our resentment and regret, impatience and
anxiety. Health will inevitably follow. Every thought that holds us in
even the slightest degree to either anticipation or regret hinders, to
some extent, the realization of our present good. It limits freedom.
Life is in the present tense. Its significant name is Being.
Whether we are happy or not depends much on our point of view. The
disposition to look at everything through kind and beautiful eyes makes
all the world more kind and beautiful. If we are gloomy within the
whole world appears likewise. Perhaps the two ways of looking at things
could not be better set forth than in these clever lines by E. J.
How dismal you look! said a bucket to his companion, as they were
going to the well.
Ah! replied the other, I was reflecting on the uselessness of our
being filled, for, let us go away never so full, we always come back
Dear me! how strange to look on it that way! said the other
bucket; now I enjoy the thought that however empty we come, we always
go away full. Only look at it in that light and you will always be as
cheerful as I am.
The difference between the pessimist and the optimist is in their
POINT OF VIEW
Because each rose must have its thorn,
The pessimist Fate's plan opposes;
The optimist, more gladly born,
Rejoices that the thorns have roses.
Since our happiness is merely the reflex influence of the happiness
we make for others it would seem as though the joy of our lives dwells
within our own keeping. The universe, says Zimmerman, pays every man
in his own coin; if you smile, it smiles upon you in return; if you
frown, you will be frowned at; if you sing, you will be invited into
gay company; if you think, you will be entertained by thinkers; if you
love the world, and earnestly seek for the good therein, you will be
surrounded by loving friends, and nature will pour into your lap the
treasures of the earth.
All of this being true we must early learn to seize upon
opportunities for making others happy if we, ourselves, would get the
most and highest enjoyment from life. There are gates that swing
within your life and mine, writes Amber, that good woman of sainted
memory, letting in rare opportunities from day to day, that tarry but
a moment and are gone, like travelers bound for points remote. There is
the opportunity to resist the temptation to do a mean thing! Improve
it, for it is in a hurry, like the man whose ticket is bought and whose
time is up. It won't be back this way, either, for opportunities for
good are not like tourists who travel on return tickets. There is the
opportunity to say a pleasant word to the ones within the sound of your
voice. All of the priceless opportunities travel by lightning express
and have no time to idle around the waiting-room. If we improve them at
all it must be when the gate swings to let them through.
It is in living not for ourselves alone but for others that we are
to find the larger and truer happiness of life. Says Jenkin Lloyd
Jones, I would rather live in an alley, stayed all round with human
loves, associations and ambitions, than dwell in a palace with
drawbridge, moat, and portcullis, apart from the community about me,
alienated from my neighbors, unable to share the woes and the joys of
those with whom I divide nature's bounty of land and landscape, of air
and sky. And along this same line of thinking, Charles Hargrove says:
Brother, sister, your mistake is to live alone in a crowded world, to
think of yourself and your own belongings, and what is the matter with
you, instead of trying to realize, what is the factthat you are a
member of a great human society, and that your true interests are one
with those of the world which will go on much the same however it fare
with you. Live the larger life, and you will find it the happier.
So one of the chief aims of your life and of mine should be to find
happiness and to see to it that others find it as well. And let us not
wait to find happiness in one great offering, but let us discover it
whenever and wherever we can. Let us carefully study our surroundings
to see if it is not hiding all about us. Very few things, says Lecky,
contribute so much to the happiness of life as a constant realization
of the blessings we enjoy. The difference between a naturally contented
nature and a naturally discontented one is one of the marked
differences of innate temperament, but we can do much to cultivate that
habit of dwelling on the benefits of our lot which converts
acquiescence into a more positive enjoyment.
Nothing can do more to add to our happiness of mind than to
cultivate the gracious habit of being grateful for joys that come to us
and to seek to appreciate the worth of the beneficent gifts that are
ever being showered upon us. We are so apt to fall into the habit of
accepting blessings as a matter of course and of failing to discover
their wonderful value. How many of us, for example, have ever
thoughtfully dwelt upon the priceless attributes of the air that is
ever and always floating about us. In order that we may have a truer
appreciation of its fine qualities and purposes let us read these words
by Lord Avebury:
Fresh air, how wonderful it is! It permeates all our body, it
bathes the skin in a medium so delicate that we are not conscious of
its presence, and yet so strong that it wafts the odors of flowers and
fruit into our rooms, carries our ships over the seas, the purity of
sea and mountain into the heart of our cities. It is the vehicle of
sound, it brings to us the voices of those we love and the sweet music
of nature; it is the great reservoir of the rain which waters the
earth, it softens the heat of day and the cold of night, covers us
overhead with a glorious arch of blue, and lights up the morning and
evening skies with fire. It is so exquisitely soft and pure, so gentle
and yet so useful, that no wonder Ariel is the most delicate, lovable
and fascinating of all Nature Spirits.
It is only when we open our eyes to the beauty of the wonders about
us that we see how much there is to contribute to our happiness if we
will but open our hearts and let it come in. What a perpetual
exaltation nature will afford us when we have cultivated the fine habit
of looking upon it with the welcoming eyes through which Richard
Jefferies beholds it: The whole time in the open air, he tells us,
resting at mid-day under the elms with the ripple of heat flowing
through the shadow; at midnight between the ripe corn and the hawthorne
hedge or the white camomile and the poppy pale in the duskiness, with
face upturned to the thoughtful heaven. Consider the glory of it, the
life above this life to be obtained from constant presence with the
sunlight and the stars.
So let us cultivate the fine habit of finding joy and of shouting it
to our friends and neighbors. Life seems bright to us when we are
really glad of anything and we let gladness have voice to express
itself. George MacDonald says a poet is a man who is glad of something
and tries to make other people glad of it, too. In the possession of
this kindly spirit, at least, we must all strive to be poets.
Emerson tells us that there is one topic positively forbidden to
all well-bred, to all rational mortals, namely, their distempers. If
you have not slept, or if you have headache, or sciatica, or leprosy,
or thunder stroke, I beseech you, by all the angels, to hold your
peace, and not pollute the morning, to which all the housemates bring
serene and pleasant thoughts, by corruption and groans.
The fine tonic effect of a bright, happy face smiling across the
breakfast table is known to all the world. Better a feast of corn bread
and a cheerful countenance than fruit cake and a sour temperament.
So I feel very sure that you, my dear young lady, for whom these
lines are written, are never going to appear at the breakfast table
with aught other than a bright cheery face and a pleasant word for all
about you. Some one has said that the first hour of the day is the
critical one. Happy is the person who can wake with a song, or who can
at least hold back the fears and the grumbles until a thought of
gladness has established itself as the keynote of the day.
Assume a virtue, if you have it not, says Shakespeare. While as a
rule it is deemed wrong to assume to possess any virtue that we do not
possess, we may and no doubt should, at times, appear to be happy even
though we may feel more like indulging in lamentations. To come to the
breakfast table enumerating a list of real or imaginary ailments is a
most ill-advised thing to do. We should endeavor to forget our troubles
and above all we should be slow to give voice to them so that thereby
they will be multiplied in the minds of others. It has been truly said
that most people who are unhappy are really miserable and bring their
misery to others because they allow the failures and discomforts to
speak the first word in their souls. For misery is voluble and the
little discomforts will turn us into their continual mouthpieces if we
will give them a chance. But the truly thoughtful and considerate
person will have none of them. Instead of displaying the flag of
distress and surrender, the wiser method is to pull our courage and
determination together and don
THE BETTER ARMOR
If through thick and through thin
You are eager to win,
Don't go shrouded in Fear and in Doubt,
But with Hope and with Truth
And the blue sky of Youth
Go through life with the sunny side out.
So let us determine that we will cultivate the happy habit; for
indeed even happiness is largely a habit. As he thinketh in his heart,
so is he. If he thinks trouble, he is very likely to find it. If he
thinks sickness, he is likely to be ill. If he thinks unkind things, he
is quite sure to put them into the deeds of his daily life. The thought
is the architect's plans which the hands are likely to set about to
build. To the one who thinks the weather is bad, it is sure to be
disagreeable. To the one who seeks to find something pleasant about it,
it is certain to offer some happy phases.
We must all answer yes to this question asked by one of our fine
writers on our social amenities: Don't you get awfully tired of people
who are always croaking? A frog in a big, damp, malarial pond is
expected to make all the fuss he can in protest of his surroundings.
But a man! Destined for a crown, and born that he may be educated for
the court of a king! Placed in an emerald world with a hither side of
opaline shadow, and a fine dust of diamonds to set it sparkling when
winter days are flying; with ten million singing birds to make it
musical, and twice ten million flowers to make it sweet; with countless
stars to light it up with fiery splendor, and white, new moons to wrap
it round with mystery; with other souls within it to love and make
happy, and the hand of God to uphold it on its rushing way among the
countless worlds that crowd its path; what right has man to find fault
with such a world? When the woodtick shall gain a hearing, as he
complains that the grand old century oak is unfit to shelter him, or
the bluebird be harkened to when he murmurs that the horizon is off
color, and does not match his wings, then, I think, it will be time for
man to find fault with the appointments of the magnificent sphere in
which he lives.
Therefore let it be determined between us, right here and now, that
come what may, we shall each of us endeavor to keep a merry heart and a
pleasant face. As we love to see a happy expression on the faces of our
parents, brothers, sisters and friends, so must they enjoy seeing a
pleasant look overspreading our features. And with this good and kindly
resolve in our minds it will never be difficult for us to decide
whether we shall give to the good world about us the gladness or the
gloom that is embodied in
SONG OR SIGH
If you were a bird and shut in a cage,
Now what would you better do,
Would you grieve your throat with a sorry note
And mourn the whole day through;
Or would you swing and chirp and sing,
Though the world were warped with wrong,
Till you filled one place with the perfect grace
And gladness of your song?
If you were a man and shut in a world,
Now what would you better do,
On a gloomy day, when skies were gray,
Would you be gloomy, too?
When crossed with care would you let despair
Life's happy hope destroy,
Or with a smile work on the while
You found the path to joy?
[Illustration: FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE]
[Transcriber's Note: Sidenote quotations from the preceeding chapter
are gathered in this section.]
Mirth is God's medicine; everybody ought to bathe in it.Holmes.
The blue of heaven is larger than the cloud.Elizabeth Barrett
A gay, serene spirit is the source of all that is noble and good.
Your manners will depend very much on what you frequently think on;
for the soul is as it were tinged with the color and complexion of
thought.Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.
Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the
stuff life is made of.Benjamin Franklin.
Be yourself, but make yourself in everything as delightful as you
can.Margaret E. Sangster.
The tissue of the life to be we weave with colors all our own, and
in the field of destiny we reap as we have sown.Whittier.
What must of necessity be done you can always find out beyond
question how to do.Ruskin.
The doctrine of love, purity, and right living has, step by step,
won its way into the hearts of mankind, and has filled the future with
hope and promise.William McKinley.
Since time is not a person we can overtake when he is past, let us
honor him with mirth and cheerfulness of heart while he is passing.
Every wish is a prayer with God.Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Say not always what you know, but always know what you
Evil is wrought by want of thought, as well as want of heart.Hood.
Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising
every time we fall.Goldsmith.
So use present pleasures that thou spoilest not future
A good manner springs from a good heart, and fine manners are the
outcome of unselfish kindness.Margaret E. Sangster.
Reading and study are in no sense education, unless they may
contribute to this end of making us feel kindly towards all
An hour in every day withdrawn from frivolous pursuits would, if
properly employed, enable a person of ordinary capacity, to go far
toward mastering a science.Samuel Smiles.
To live with a high ideal is a successful life. It is not what one
does, but what one tries to do, that makes the soul strong and fit for
noble career.E. P. Tenney.
He who loses money loses much; he who loses a friend loses more, but
he who loses spirit loses all.S. A. Nelson.
If you tell the truth, you have infinite power supporting you; but
if not, you have infinite power against you.Charles G. Gordon.
Great hearts alone understand how much glory there is in being good.
To be and keep so is not the gift of a happy nature alone, but it is
strength and heroism.Jules Michelet.
We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths.Bailey.
Remember that everybody's business in the social system is to be
In the lexicon of youth there is no such word as fail.Bulwer
Be noble! and the nobleness that lies in other men, sleeping, but
never dead, will rise in majesty to meet thine own.Lowell.
The cheerful live longest in years, and afterward in our regards.
How sweet and gracious, even in common speech, is that fine sense
which men call Courtesy!James T. Fields.
Make each goal when reached, a starting point for further quest.
The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all
be as happy as kings.Robert Louis Stevenson.
God bless the good-natured, for they bless everybody else.Beecher.
If you are acquainted with Happiness, introduce him to your
neighbor. Phillips Brooks.
Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou liv'st, live well; how
long or short, permit to heaven.Milton.
The most wasted of all days is that on which one has not laughed.
It is impossible to be just if one is not generous.Joseph Roux.
People glorify all sorts of bravery, except the bravery they might
show on behalf of their nearest neighbors.George Eliot.
How active springs the mind that leaves the load of yesterday
One of the most charming things in girlhood is serenity.Margaret
Every generous nature desires to make the earning of an honest
living but a means to the higher end of adding to the sum total of
human goodness and human happiness.Frances E. Willard.
Attempt the end, and never stand in doubt; nothing's so hard but
search will find it out.Richard Lovelace.
There is only one way to get ready for immortality, and that is to
love this life and live it as bravely and cheerfully and faithfully as
we can.Henry Van Dyke.
He that composes himself is wiser than he that composes books.
Anxiety never yet successfully bridged over any chasm.Ruffini.
How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal
but by degrees?Shakespeare.
Duty determines destiny. Destiny which results from duty performed,
may bring anxiety and perils, but never failure and dishonor.William
If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.
No book is worth anything which is not worth much; nor is it
serviceable, until it has been read, and reread, and loved, and loved
Wise, cultivated, genial conversation is the best flower of
It is so easy to perceive other people's little absurdities, and so
difficult to discover our own.Ellen Thornycroft Fowler.
CHAPTER VII. GOLDEN HABITS
We often hear persons speaking of the force of habit as though it
were something to be regretted. Habit is second nature, is a saying
that is included among the classic epigrams of men. That habits do
become very strong, all the world has learned, sometimes to its sorrow
and sometimes to its advantage and delight.
For be it known that good habits are just as strong as bad habits
and in that we should all feel a common joy and a sense of deliverance
from wrong doing.
The fact that a fixed habit is only a matter of long and gradual
growth ought to be very much to our advantage. This very fundamental
principle of their construction should result in giving us very many
more good habits than bad habits. This happy conclusion is based on the
supposition that while many of us are so constituted that it is
possible we might, in some unguarded moment, do a wrong act, it is
unlikely we could repeat the error so often and so long as to make the
questionable action become a fixed habit.
The doing of a wrong thing should result in convincing us, on sober
second thought, that it was a mistake on our part to have permitted
ourselves to have been led into uncertain, unhappy paths and we would
then and there reinforce our moral strength and our determination that
the wrong should not occur again.
In doing right things, the conditions are quite reversed. Every good
deed inspires us to still greater determination to do more of the same
kind. Wrong deeds are, in most cases, committed in a moment of
thoughtlessness when one's conscience, one's higher and better self, is
momentarily off guard. Our good acts are performed with a full and
proud realization of what we are doing and are followed by a grateful
sense of retrospective pleasure, after they have been done.
Could the young, says Henry James, but realize how soon they will
become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to
their conduct while in the plastic state. Nothing we ever do is, in
strict scientific literateness, wiped out. One of our latter day
philosophers tells us that happiness is a matter of habit; and you had
better gather it fresh every day or you will never get it at all.
In speaking of the success he had achieved in life, Charles Dickens
said: I have been very fortunate in worldly matters; many men have
worked much harder and not succeeded half so well; but I never could
have done what I have done, without the habits of punctuality, order,
and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one
object at a time, no matter how quickly its successor should come upon
When we come to study carefully the full meaning of the word habit
we find it to be a very comprehensive term. In the sense in which it is
here employed the dictionary defines it as being a tendency or
inclination toward an action or condition, which by repetition has
become easy, spontaneous or even
unconscious. From this definition it is easy to deduce the
conclusion that one's habits are in fact one's manners, one's
principles, one's mode of conduct; and a careful consideration of the
theme finally brings one to a clear realization of the secret of
One cannot from the world conceal
The current of his thought;
A word or action will reveal
The thing his brain hath wrought.
True goodness from within must come
And deeds, to be refined,
Their outer grace must borrow from
Politeness of the mind.
Our manners are ourselves. They constitute our personality and it is
by our personality that we are judged. If that is frank and pleasant
and agreeable we shall not lack for friends.
A person may be deficient in the charm of form or face but if the
manners are perfect they will call forth admiration as nothing else
Our thoughts are the essential and impressive part of ourselves. It
is the spirit that maketh alive. The flesh profiteth nothing. We are
told by Swedenborg that every volition and thought of man is inscribed
on his brain, for volition and thoughts have their beginnings in the
brain, whence they are conveyed to the bodily members, wherein they
terminate. Whatever, therefore, is in the mind is in the brain, and
from the brain in the body, according to the order of its parts. Thus a
man writes his life in his physique, and thus the angels discover his
autobiography in his structure.
Since good habits and pleasing manners are such important aids in
the making of character and personality we should leave nothing undone
to strengthen the better side of our lives. And since we all are
constantly being acted upon by suggestion we should invite to our
assistance anything that will tend to keep us in the most exemplary
frame of mind.
In addition to the spoken word of admonition from parents, teachers,
and others honestly interested in our welfare we should reinforce our
good resolves by reading good books and in framing for our own benefit
a code of rules for our better conduct.
It is considered to be a good plan to select a number of suitable
quotations and display them in some manner where the eye must see them
with frequency. A calendar with a daily quotation admirably serves this
purpose. Oftentimes when a good thought is put into the mind in the
early morning it tends to direct the course of our thinking throughout
the day. The following quotations are offered only as suggestions. They
can be added to indefinitely:
A man's own good breeding is the best security against other
people's ill manners.Chesterfield.
Good breeding shows itself most when to an ordinary eye it
Good manners is the art of making those people easy with whom we
converse. Whoever makes the fewest people uneasy is the best
in the company.Swift.
Hail! ye small, sweet courtesies of life, for smooth do you make
the road of it.Sterne.
Civility costs nothing and buys everything.Lady Montague.
Evil communications corrupt good manners.Bible.
No pleasure is comparable to standing on the vantage ground of
They are never alone that are accompanied with noble
Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with
Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge.Shakespeare.
Honest labor bears a lovely face.Dekker.
The gods give nothing really beautiful without labor and
The key to pleasure is honest work. All dishes taste good with
sauce.H. R. Haweis.
Work is as necessary for peace of mind as for health of
Sir John Lubbock has said: I cannot, however, but think that the
world would be better and brighter if our teachers would dwell on the
duty of Happiness, as well as the happiness of Duty, for we ought to be
as cheerful as we can, if only because to be happy ourselves is the
most effectual contribution to the happiness of others.
Surely we cannot include among good habits the habit of making those
about us unhappy. Hence it is that they who are careless of the state
of mind into which they throw those about them are not good mannered.
While it is but simple kindness to allow our friends to sympathize in
the great griefs that may overtake us, it is not kindness for us to be
forever stirring them with all the real or fancied ills with which we
can regale them. Either extreme is more or less absurd and unwarranted.
Perhaps, as a rule, we thrust our troubles quite too willingly upon
others. On the other hand, some of the peoples of the Orient we deem to
be so ludicrously polite in matters of this nature as to almost arouse
An English writer in speaking of the Japanese says: There must
really have been a double portion of politeness bestowed upon these
people who in the deepest domestic grief would smile and smile, so that
a guest in the home might not be burdened with their sorrow. The habit
is in striking contrast with the weeping and wailing, the mourning
streamers, the hatbands, plumes, palls, black chargers, and funeral
hearses with which we struggle to stir the envy, if not the hearts of
In Japan, so we are told, manners are included in the public
teaching of morality. Among our western peoples our public school boys
would deem it strange if a master gave them an hour's instruction in
the correct manner of behaving toward their father and mother or
sisters. Yet such knowledge might be urgently needed and do good here
as it does in Japan where it is counted the most vital instruction of
all. Step by step the Japanese child is led along the course of
behavior, learning how to stand up, sit down, bow, hang up its hat, and
how to think of its parents, brothers and sisters, and of its country.
Later on these lessons are repeated with illustrations from short
stories, and still later by incidents from actual history and the lives
of great men of all countries. Before the end of the course of
instruction is reached all manner of virtues and points of behavior
have been introduced, such as patriotism, cleanliness, and (especially
in the case of girls) the proper way of advancing and retiring,
offering and accepting things, sleeping and eating, visiting,
congratulating and condoling, mourning and holding public meetings. So
the school course continues from year to year, the elementary school
course lasting four years and the secondary course four years more, and
leading the boys and girls up to the study of benevolence, their duty
to ancestors, to other people's property, other people's honor, other
people's freedom, and, finally, to self-discipline, modesty, dignity,
dress, labor, the treatment of animals, and the due relations of men
and women, both of whom are to be regarded equally as lords of
creation. From end to end of the long course of training, behavior
rather than knowledge is insisted upon, even down to the tiniest detail
of what our good great-grandmothers valued as deportment.
To such scrupulous deportment and close attention to minuteness of
habit, some objection can be raised, perhaps. Some men's behavior,
said Bacon, is like a verse wherein every syllable is measured, and
he warned us that manners must be like apparel, not too strait or
point-device, but free for exercise or motion. However, it is better
to err on the side of too much attention to our manners rather than to
be thought careless of our persons and our behavior.
Civilized peoples cannot help but be concerned with manners,
refinement, good breeding, and in a more minute sense, with the forms
of etiquette. It is these things that distinguish civilization from
savagery, and so unmistakably lift the cultured person above the one
who does not see fit to cultivate the grace of gentility.
It has been truly said that we judge our neighbors severely by the
breach of written or traditional laws, and choose our society, and even
our friends, by the touchstone of courtesy. It is not an uncommon
occurrence for a girl or a boy to win an advantageous position in life,
not by superior mental or physical endowments but by a graciousness of
manners that have smoothed for them the ways that lead to success.
For some quite unwarranted reason society seems to have taken the
position that we have a right to expect more from our girls than from
our boys in the matter of good manners. This, however, is not the view
held by those who know the true meaning of good breeding. The demand
that every boy shall be a gentleman is as firm and binding as is that
which says that every girl must be a gentle woman and a thorough lady.
Every girl knows what is expected of her. Her parents, brothers,
sisters, teachers, society and the world intend that she shall be good
and gentle and gracious. They will be satisfied with nothing short of
all that and it will be well for every girl to learn early in life to
pursue only the paths that will lead into ways wherein these qualities
of person and character may be found. So here and now it is timely to
ask of the readers of these lines
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
What are you going to do, girls,
With the years that are hurrying on?
Do you mean to begin life's purpose to win
In the freshness and strength of the dawn?
The builders who build in the morning,
At even may joyfully rest,
Their victories won, as they watch the glad sun
Sink down in the beautiful west.
What are you going to do, girls,
With time as it ceaselessly flows?
Are you molding a heart that will pleasures impart
As perfume exhales from the rose?
Let all that is purest and grandest
In duty's fair wreath be entwined;
There is no other grace can illumine the face
Like the charm of a beautiful mind.
A student of the subject of ethics must understand that the true
spirit of good manners is very closely allied to that of good morals.
It has been pointed out that no stronger proof of this assertion is
required than the fact that the Messiah himself, in his great moral
teachings, so frequently touches upon the subject of manners. He
teaches that modesty is the true spirit of good behavior, and openly
rebukes the forward manner of His followers in taking the upper seats
at the banquet and the highest seats in the synagogues.
The philosophers whose names are recorded in history, although they
were, themselves, seldom distinguished for fine manners, did not fail
to teach the importance of them to others. Socrates and Aristotle have
left behind them a code of ethics that might easily be turned into a
Guide to the Complete Gentleman; and Lord Bacon has written an essay
on manners in which he reminds us that a stone must be of very high
value to do without a setting.
The motive in cultivating good manners should not be shallow and
superficial. Lord Chesterfield says that the motive that makes one wish
to be polite is a desire to shine among his fellows and to raise one's
self into a society supposed to be better than his own. It is
unnecessary to state that Lord Chesterfield's good manners, fine as
they appear, do not bear the true stamp of genuineness. There is not
the living person back of them possessing heart and character. They
seem to him, in a measure, what a fine gown does to the wax figure in
the dressmaker's window. True manners mean more than mannerisms. They
cannot be taught entirely from a book in which there are sets of rules
to be observed on any and every occasion. They are rather a cultivated
method of thinking and feeling and the forming of a character that
knows, intuitively, the nice and kind and appropriate thing to do
without reference to what a printed rule of conduct may set forth.
It is generally agreed that our best and only right motive in the
cultivation of good manners should be to make ourselves better than we
otherwise would be, to render ourselves agreeable to every one whom we
may meet, and to improve, it may be, the society in which we are
placed. With these objects in view, it is plainly as much a moral duty
to cultivate one's manners as it is to cultivate one's mind, and no one
can deny that we are better citizens when we observe the nicer
amenities of society than we are when we pay no heed to them.
Lord Bacon says: Many examples may be put of the force of custom,
both upon mind and body. Therefore, since custom is the principle
magistrate of man's life, let men by all means endeavor to obtain good
customs. Certainly custom is most perfect when it beginneth in young
years; this we call education, which is, in effect, but an early
So we see that our true characters are but the expression of our
habits and of our manners. And we see that only those habits that are
formed in the early years of life seem to fit us perfectly and
naturally throughout all the years.
It is an old saying and a homely one, but none the less true, that
it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. So it is hard to acquire
in later life the manners and graces that escape us in youth.
Fortunate is the young girl who finds her lot is cast among the good
influences of a cultured home. She has at hand the material from which
to select all that she may need to build the fine character the world
shall observe and admire. Such felicitous surroundings should teach
her, first of all, to be very charitable and lenient toward others
whose early years are lived among less advantageous surroundings. For
if her culture does not in some ways influence and soften and modify
her heart as well as her mind, its true purpose has been lost.
Those whose earlier years are spent amid surroundings not so
favorable for the forming of golden habits, must strive all the harder
for the prize of gentility which they would obtain. And in this very
struggle against adverse circumstances will be engendered a strength
and a spirit of self-reliance that will be likely to prove a worthy
equivalent for the loss of a more kindly and propitious environment.
It is experience that develops character, and character is the one
thing that distinguishes a life and makes it a definite and individual
thing of supreme beauty.
The character that is the most laboriously built is the most
enduring. Golden habits that have been hammered out of our life
experiences are to be implicitly relied upon. They have been tested at
every point. They have been shaped out of the very necessity of one's
surroundings. They are worth every effort that they have cost. The
world will never know how much of its integrity, how much of its
stability, how much of its beauty it owes to that which we are all so
prone to call
Dull drudgery, gray angel of success;
Enduring purpose, waiting long and long,
Headache or heartache, blent with sigh or song,
Forever delving mid the strife and stress:
Within the bleak confines of your duress
Are laid the firm foundations, deep and strong,
Whereon men build the right against the wrong,
The toil-wrought monuments that lift and bless.
The coral reefs; the bee's o'erflowing cells;
The Pyramids; all things that shall endure;
The books on books wherein all wisdom dwells,
Are wrought with plodding patience, slow and sure.
Yours the time-tempered fashioning that spells
Of chaos, order, perfect and secure.
[Illustration: GEORGE ELIOT]
[Transcriber's Note: Sidenote quotations from the preceeding chapter
are gathered in this section.]
I think that there is success in all honest endeavor, and that there
is some victory gained in every gallant struggle that is
Every noble work is at first impossible.Carlyle.
Truth is a strong thing, let man's life be true.Browning.
Efforts to be permanently useful must be uniformly joyousa spirit
all sunshine, graceful from very gladness, beautiful because bright.
Pass no day idly; youth does not return.Chinese Proverb.
If, instead of a gem, or even a flower, we could cast the gift of a
lovely thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the
angels must give.George MacDonald.
Nothing can constitute good breeding that has not good manners for
its foundation.Bulwer Lytton.
The common earth is common only to those who are deaf to the voices
and blind to the visions which wait on it and make its flight a music
and its path a light.H. W. Mabie.
The truest lives are those that are cut rose-diamond-fashion, with
many facets answering to the many-planed aspects of the world about
them.Oliver Wendell Holmes.
It seems to me there is no maxim for a noble life like this: Count
always your highest moments your truest moments.Phillips Brooks.
We only begin to realize the value of our possessions when we
commence to do good to others with them.Joseph Cook.
Believe me, girls, on the road of life you and I will find few
things more worth while than comradeship.Margaret E. Sangster.
Do noble things, not dream them, all day long, and so make life,
death, and the vast forever, one grand, sweet song.Charles Kingsley.
And to get peace, if you do want it, make for yourself nests
of pleasant thoughts.Ruskin.
When one is so dedicated to his mission, so full of a great purpose
that he has no thought for self, his life is one of unalloyed joythe
joy of self-sacrifice.Lyman Abbott.
Morality is conformity to the highest standard of right and virtuous
action, with the best intention founded on principle.A. E. Winship.
To have a friend is to have one of the sweetest gifts that life can
bring; to be a friend is to have a solemn and tender education of soul
from day to day.Anna Robertson Brown.
When it comes to doing a thing in this world, I don't ask myself
whether I like it or not, but, what's the best way to get it done.
Do you ask to be the companion of nobles? Make yourself noble, and
you shall be. Do you long for the conversation of the wise? Learn to
understand it, and you shall hear it.Ruskin.
There is no cosmetic for homely folks like character. Even the
plainest face becomes beautiful in noble and radiant moods.Newell
A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our
prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts.Thoreau.
A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit embalmed
and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.Milton.
Happiness is the natural flower of duty.Phillips Brooks.
By wisdom wealth is won; but riches purchased wisdom yet for none.
It is surely better to pardon too much than to condemn too much.
To be a strong hand in the dark to another in the time of need, to
be a cup of strength to a human soul in a crisis of weakness, is to
know the glory of life.Hugh Black.
It is not the result of our acts that makes them brave and noble,
but the acts themselves and the unselfish love that moved us to do
them. R. L. Stevenson.
Use thy youth so that thou mayest have comfort to remember it when
it hath forsaken thee.Walter Raleigh.
It is easy to condemn; it is better to pity.Abbott.
If you don't scale the mountain, you can't view the plain.Chinese
For him who aspires, and for him who loves his fellow-beings, life
may lead through the thorns, but it never stops in the
Be cheerful; wipe thine eyes; some falls are means the happier to
Be resolutely and faithfully what you are, be humbly what you aspire
If people only knew their own brothers and sisters, the Kingdom of
Heaven would not be far off.George MacDonald.
The shadows of our own desires stand between us and our better
If every day we can feel, if only for a moment, the realization of
being our best selves, you may be sure that we are succeeding.Bliss
If you know how to spend less than you get, you have the
philosopher's stone.Benjamin Franklin.
He only is advancing in life, whose heart is getting softer, whose
blood warmer, whose brain quicker, whose spirit is entering into living
The fine art of living, indeed, is to draw from each person his
best. Lilian Whiting.
Reflect upon your present blessingsof which every man has
manynot on your past misfortunes, of which all men have
If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and
life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbsis more
elastic, more starry, more immortalthat is your success.Thoreau.
Blessings ever wait on virtuous deeds.Congreve.
The microscope gives us a world, a universe, a single drop of dew.
So also there is a world in a single profound, earnest
Better is it to have a small portion of good sense, with humility
and a slender understanding, than great treasures of science, with vain
self-complacency.Thomas à Kempis.
There is one road to peace and that is truth.Shelley.
He hath from his childhood conversed with books and bookmen; and
always being where the frankincense of the temple was offered, there
must be some perfume remaining about him.Thomas Fuller.
Everything great is not always good, but all good things are great.
The turmoil of the world will always die, if we set our faces to
If I can put one touch of a rosy sunset into the life of any man or
woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.George MacDonald.
Our business in life is not to get ahead of other people but to get
ahead of ourselves.Maltbie D. Babcock.
The narrow kingdom of to-day is better worth ruling over than the
widest past or future.Edith Wharton.
There's always a bloom on the world if one looks.Abby M. Roach.
The reward of one duty is the power to fulfill another.George
CHAPTER VIII. THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
Nothing succeeds like success.
Perhaps the true meaning of this old French proverb is that once we
have a measure of success we are the more likely to achieve still more
victories. The discovery that our strength, perseverance and
determination have been capable of bending circumstances to our will
and bringing to fulfillment the end for which we have wished and
worked, gives us renewed courage and inspiration for the undertaking of
new and larger duties.
We learn to do by doing. Achievement leads to still greater
achievement. Orison Swett Marden, one of the world's wisest of
observers and deepest of philosophers, says, The world makes way for
the determined man. And so it does for the determined woman, or the
determined girl or boy.
Regarding this thing called Success, too many of us are apt to
think that it means some one, isolated, remarkable achievement, that
comes at the end of a long period of striving in some particular field
of endeavor. This is not entirely true. Every great success is made of
very many lesser successes that have preceded it. Just as the cap-stone
at the top of the tallest building is held in its lofty position by
every stone beneath it even down to the ones deep in the earth at the
very foundation of the structure, which are indeed perhaps the most
important of all.
So the thing which the world is pleased to call Success is built
up by a thousand little successes on which it must finally rest. The
building of a life success begins with the earliest dawn of being and
must be carried on with as much care as a mason would give to the
laying of the walls of a structure designed to stand for years. The
mason knows that if he does not lay his foundations deep and firm, that
if the walls are not kept straight and plumb, that if he puts faulty
bricks or stones in the walls, the building will not be a success. The
work at every stage must be a success or the completed structure must
be a failure.
So it is in life. If our moments are not successful, the hours can
never be so, and the days and years can but enlarge upon and emphasize
their failure. Every day is a fresh beginning, every morn is a world
made new, says Susan Coolidge. There is a chance for attaining success
every hour and day of our lives.
Success is not alone for the great men of the world who find new
continents, explore the poles, navigate the air, write great poems,
paint great pictures, or who amass fortunes of millions of dollars. No,
success is for any and all of us, here and now, any and all the time.
Were you prepared in your studies at school to-day? If you were,
that was success.
Have you your music lesson well in hand for this afternoon? If so,
that means success.
Have you been kind to everybody to-day, and with a pleasant word and
a willing hand, done all you could to make life pleasanter and happier
for those about you? If so, that is a fine moral success. And if you
will multiply the achievements of to-day by the days that are in the
years before you, you can see the result that you have a reason to
expect, as your life's work.
Success means doing all that we can do as well as we can do it. It
may be work or it may be play. It may be something of seemingly little
account or it may be something of importance, but unless we do it well,
and to the best of our ability it will not be a success.
Every day, says Bunsen, ought to be begun as a serious work,
standing alone in itself, and yet connected with the past and the
future. And Ruskin still further emphasizes this thought in the words:
Let every dawn of morning be to you as the beginning of life, and
every setting sun be to you as its close; then let every one of these
short lives leave its sure record of some kindly thing done for
We begin to achieve success when we do the things that are necessary
for such achievement. Huxley expressed the whole secret of the matter
when he said: Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the
ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to
be done, as it ought to be done, whether you like to do it or not.
A good life, which is but another name for success, does not come by
accident. Fortune may seem to favor it but it is the disposition to
seize upon the opportunities that present themselves that make some
lives seem more blest with good chances than others.
Self cultivation is the secret of most all attainments in the realm
of human endeavor. As a matter of fact, all that others can do for us
is as nothing to that which we may do for ourselves. Persons who do
things usually have to work for results, or they have at some time had
to work to acquire the habits that later on make it seem so easy for
them to do fine things. We think, says J. C. Van Dyke, because the
completed work looks easy or reads easy, that it must have been done
easily. But the geniuses of the world have all put upon record their
conviction that there is more virtue in perspiration than in
inspiration. The great poets, whether in print or in paint, have spent
their weeks and monthsyes, yearscomposing, adjusting, putting in
and taking out. They have known what it is to 'lick things into shape,'
to labor and be baffled, to despair and to hope anew.
With the dawning of every morning, life comes bringing to us a new
and wonderful day to employ it as we will. Shall it be a fine,
gratifying success, or shall it be a failure? Shall it be part success
and part failure? There can be no doubt about it being a matter that is
very largely in our own keeping.
Each golden dawn presents two gates
That open to the day;
Through one a path of joy awaits,
Through one a weary way.
Choose well, for by that choice is willed
If ye shall be distressed
At eventide, or richly filled
With strength and peace and rest.
Every true life, says J. R. Miller, should be a perpetual
climbing upward. We should put our faults under our feet, and make them
steps on which to lift ourselves daily a little higher.... We never in
this world get to a point where we may regard ourselves as having
reached life's goal, as having attained the loftiest height within our
reach; there are always other rounds of the ladder to climb.
So we know that the purpose of life is not to make a failure of it.
And we know that we cannot make it a success unless we work toward that
end. The first great rule is, we must do somethingthat life must
have a purpose and an aimthat work should be not merely occasional
and spasmodic, but steady and continuous, says Lecky. Pleasure is a
jewel which will retain its luster only when it is in a setting of
work, and a vacant life is one of the worst of pains, though the
islands of leisure that stud a crowded, well-occupied life may be among
the things to which we look back with the greatest delight.
There can be no interest where there is no purpose. How tiresome it
would very soon become if we were compelled to make idle, useless marks
upon paper, without any design whatsoever. But to be able to draw
pictures is a delight that no one can forego. The most pitiable life
is the aimless life, says Jenkin Lloyd Jones. Heaven help the man or
woman, the boy or girl, who is not interested in anything outside of
his or her own immediate comfort and that related thereto, who eats
bread to make strength for no special cause, who pursues science, reads
poetry, studies books, for no earthly or heavenly purpose than mere
enjoyment or acquisition; who goes on accumulating wealth, piling up
money, with no definite or absorbing purpose to apply it to anything in
Perhaps we expect to-day, more than men have at any other time in
the world's history, that girls as well as boys, must look forward to
doing something definite in life. It is not deemed sufficient for
anyone simply to be. The whole world is now living the verb to do.
The grace, strength, beauty and worth of womanhood is being enhanced
with the constantly enlarging sphere of women's work. The primitive,
almost heathen, notion that the feminine sex constituted a handicap in
the achieving of great success in a great majority of the fields of
human endeavor is rapidly fading away. It can no longer stand in the
light of the brilliant achievements women are making everywhere.
Indeed, men are becoming well convinced that their presumed supremacy
in many of the world's spheres of work is being successfully challenged
at every point. So general is this experience becoming that the present
status of things might well be set forth somewhat after the following
MAN, POOR MAN!
The question used to be, 't is true,
What tasks are there for girls to do?
But now we've reached an epoch when
We ask: What is there left for men?
They'll keep enlarging woman's sphere
Till man, poor, shrinking man, we fear,
Must grow quite useless, after while,
And go completely out of style.
This piece of frivolity can well be pardoned on account of its
absurdity. The great work of the world is so broad, so deep, so high,
that it calls for the best endeavors of all girls and boys, women and
men. That the door of opportunity is henceforth to be open to all is an
assurance that the work is to be more grandly and beautifully done than
ever before. What women may do in the years to come is wonderfully set
forth by what women have done in the past. All history is filled with
the splendid achievements of the women of the world. A girl of to-day
will find no reading more helpful and inspiring than the lives of such
noble women as Martha Washington, Queen Victoria, Sally BushAbraham
Lincoln's good step-motherElizabeth Barrett Browning, Mrs. Harriet
Beecher Stowe, Miss Louisa Alcott, Laura Bridgman, Charlotte Cushman,
Maria Mitchell, Lady Franklin, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, and Florence
If the girls of to-day are to have larger rewards in the world's
work, they must fit themselves for the larger responsibilities. Every
prudent girl will, of course, talk over the prospect of her future
years with her parents, her brothers and sisters, her teachers, or with
mature and responsible friends. So very, very much depends on laying
the right foundations. But there are many qualities that must
constitute parts of every enduring foundation.
Attention, application, accuracy, method, punctuality, good
behavior, modesty, gentility, enlightenment, all of these and more are
essential to success and for the highest achievement of the true
purpose of living.
It has been well said that it is the repetition of little acts which
constitutes not only the sum of human character, but which determines
the character of nations; and where men or nations have broken down, it
will almost invariably be found that neglect of little things was the
rock on which they were wrecked.
Every human being has duties to be performed, and, therefore, has
need of cultivating the capacity for doing themwhether the sphere of
action be the management of a household, the conduct of a trade or a
profession, or the government of a nation.
The one fixed truth in the matter of character-building is the fact
that steady attention to the little matters of detail lies at the very
foundation of human progress.
The splendid trees that lift their branches heavenward depend for
their sustenance on the tiny thread-like roots that come into very
close relations with the soil and can thus take in the nourishment
needed for the making of growth. This, the larger roots have not the
capacity for doing. So in the growth of the human intellect and human
character, it is the little actions, day by day, that really do the
permanent building. With patient purpose to do successfully the many
little tasks that confront us we can later on achieve the larger
success awaiting us.
The world's history is full of the triumphs of those who have had to
struggle from beginning to end for recognition. Carey, the great
missionary, began life as a shoemaker; the chemist Vanquelin was the
son of a peasant; the poet Burns was a farmer boy and a day laborer;
Ben Jonson was a bricklayer; Livingstone, the traveler and explorer,
was a weaver; Abraham Lincoln was a rail-splitter and a farmer boy.
At the plow, on the bench, at the loom, these men dreamed of the
future greatness, and step by step, day by day, they persevered until
they won the full measure of success.
The great and good women of the world have won their distinction in
the same manner. They cultivated the sterling qualities that made for
success. They acquired the manners that attracted toward them help and
strength of others interested in good causes and those struggling to
And the girl who is reading these lines, can, if she will, make her
life a happy success. She may be praised by the world or it may be by
the small circle of friends with whom she comes in contact. Her name
may never be written in history but it may be fondly spoken by parents,
sisters, brothers, schoolmates, friends. In a thousand gracious ways
she can make the hours, days and years good and golden for her own
precious self and for all who know her. She must be thoughtful and
intelligently alert to the opportunities lying all about her ready to
be fashioned into shining deeds. She must know that she is a precious
craft on the sea of life and that she must not be permitted to drift
from the harbor of youth and of home without a life pilot. And this
pilot should be her own conscience, hedged about with the learning, the
good breeding, the fine character that she herself, under proper
guidance, must cultivate through the impressionable years of childhood
and maidenhood. If she so wills it, beauty and grace and true worth are
all hers. And let her greet and go forth in the freshness of each
golden day, as indeed, she must greet life, itself, with a glad,
Oh, may I be strong and brave, to-day,
And may I be kind and true,
And greet all men in a gracious way,
With frank good cheer in the things I say,
And love in the deeds I do.
May the simple heart of a child be mine,
And the grace of a rose in bloom;
Let me fill the day with a hope divine
And turn my face to the sky's glad shine,
With never a cloud of gloom.
With the golden levers of love and light
I would lift the world, and when,
Through a path with kindly deeds made bright,
I come to the calm of the starlit night,
Let me rest in peace. Amen.