Слике страница
PDF
ePub

A man who was eyes to the blind, and feet to the

66 lame;" who was a father to the poor;" and whose charitable hand and consoling voice “ made the widow's heart to sing for joy." While " the candle of the Lord shined upon his head," unbounded respect was paid him. The old as well as young, princes and nobles as well as peasants, did him obeisance. He had friends without number; close friends friends deterniined never to forsake him in his-prosperity.

With unerring aim, and to answer the mysterious purpose of infinite wisdom, heaven's arrow was pointed at the bosom of this very man. In a single hour he fell from the height of prosperity, to the lowest depths of human wretchedness. Bereft of all his children at a stroke, reduced to poverty and need, covered from head to foot with disease, he sat upon the ground; left there to weep his woes by himself. His friends, as well as his fortune, had left him. They stood aloof, and with scorn rather than commiseration, eyed him askance. He called after them-Have pity upon me! have pity upon me !—but called in vain. Even the very few that drew near, ostensibly to comfort him, did but add grief to his sorrow. With rugged hands and unfeeling hearts, they tore yet wider bis bleeding wounds; but poured in no balsam.

Suddenly, the Lord turned the captivity” of this self same man, and even doubled the prosperity of his best days. And no sooner was that known, than his old friends who had forsaken him, came back. Then, and not till then came all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house." His good cheer restores him to their good liking.

Yet unfeeling as the world is, there are some in it, and I hope not a few, who are the same in the bleak night of adversity, as in the sunshine of prosperity.These, whether male or female, are of the right stamp;

-Reader, hast thou a friend of this sort; one who had been thy father's or thy mother's friend in distress; one who has readily befriended thyself in time of utmost need ?- Then thou hast a pearl of inestimable worth lock it close to thy bosom.

It was one of the precepts of Pythagoras, " That a friend should not be liated for little faults.” To which may be added, One of the greatest efforts of real friend ship, is to tell a friend his faults; to do this requires uncommon fortitude; to do it properly, requires the mixture of sound discretion and genuine benevolence.

CHAP. XXXV.

Of the importance of learning to say No.

A VERY wise and excellent mother, gave the following advice with her dying breath—“My son, learn to say, No.”-Not that she meant to counsel her son to be a churl in speech, or to be stiff-hearted in things indifferent or trivial—and much less did she counsel him to put his negative upon the calls of charity and the impulse of humanity ; but her meaning was, that, along with gentleness of manners and benevolence of disposition, he should possess an inflexible firmness of purpose--a qual ity beyond all price, whether it regards the sons or daughters of our fallen race.

Persons so infirm of purpose, so wanting in resolution, as to be incapable, in almost any case of saying No, are among the most hapless of human beings; and that, notwithstanding their sweetness of temper, their courteousness of demeanor, and whatever else of amiable and estimable qualities they possess. Though they

the right, th pursue the wrong; not so much out of inclination, as from a frame of mind disposed to yield to every solicitation.

An historian of a former and distant age, says of a Frenchman, who ranked as the first Prince of the Blood, that he had a bright and knowing mind, a graceful sprightliness, good intentions, complete disinterestedness, and an incredible easiness of manners; but that, with all these qualities, he acted a most contemptible part for the want of resolution ; that he came into all the factions of his time, because he wanted power to resist those who drew him in for their own interest;

MAN

but that he never came out of any but with shame, because he wanted resolution to support himself whilst he was in them.

It is owing to the want of resolution, more than to the want of sound sense, that a great many persons

have run into imprudences, injurious, and sometimes fatal, to their worldly interests. Numerous instances of this might be named, but I shall content myself with naming only one--and that is, rash and hazardous surety. ship. The pit stands uncovered, and yet men of good sense, as well as amiable dispositions, plunge themselves into it, with their eyes wide open. Notwithstanding the solemn warnings in the proverbs of the Wise Man, and notwithstanding the examples of the fate of so many that have gone before them, they make the hazardous leap. And why? Not from inclination, or with a willing mind, but because, being solicited, urged and entreated, they know not how to say No. If they had learnt, not only to pronounce that inonosyllable, but to make use of it on all proper

occasions, it inight have saved from ruin, both themselves and their wives and children.

But the worst of it is still behind. The ruin of character, of morals, and of the very soul of man, originates oft in a passive yieldingness of temper and disposition, or in the want of the resolution to say No. Thousands and many thousands, through this weakness, have been the victims of craft and deceit. Thousands and many thousands, once of fair promise, but now sunk in deprav., ity and wretchedness, owe their ruin to the act of consenting, against their better judgments, to the enticements of evil companions and familiars. Had they said No, when duty, when honor, when conscience, when every thing sacred demanded it of them-happy might they now have been—the solace of their kindred, and the ornaments of society.

Sweetness of temper, charitableness of heart, gentleness of demeanor, together with a strong disposition to act obligingly, and even to be yielding in things indifferent or of trifling moment-are amiable and estimable traits of the human character: but there must be withal, and as the ground-work of the whole, such a firmness of resolution as will guarantee it against yielding, either imprudently, or immorally, to solicitations and enticements. Else one has very little chance in passing down the current of life, of escaping the eddies and quicksands that lie in his way.

Firmness of purpose is one of the most necessary sinews of character, and one of the best instruments of success; without it, genius wastes its efforts in a maze of inconsistencies, and brings to its possessor, disgrace rather than honor.

CHAP. XXXVI.

of the calamities of hereditary idleness.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

We cannot make ourselves torpid as an oyster. We must needs be doing something with our existence, or endure else a wearisome load, as undescribable as it is intolerable. Indeed, occupation of some kind is so necessary to human quiet, that life itself is burdensome without it. For short as life is, there are but few, if any, who never complain, at heart, of the superfluity of their time. Whereas the wights, great and small, who have nothing at all to do, are, for the most part, perpetually uttering this most dolorous kind of complaint, or at least manifest no ordinary degree of restlessness -being burdened with their time much more than the most busy are burdened with their business.

The misery of idleness is to be seen nearly as much in high life, as in the rags and filth of extreme poverty. In Europe there are classes of people who are idle as it were out of necessity: not that they are unable to find employment, but they are unable to find such employment as they think comports with their dignity.Manual labor of any kind would degrade them ; nor does the condition of their rank allow them to enter into trade, or even to embrace any of the learned protessions. In fact, save those few who are selected to take part in the administration of government, or who are placed in high military stations; they are condemn

ed, by the exalted condition of their birth, to perpetual idleness. And what is the result ? It is, that this same loftiness of birth, which places them so far above all ordinary business, makes them doubly wretched.

“ There is scarcely any truth more certain or more evident,” says a writer, who was possessed of a personal knowledge of the splendid groupe, whose picture he has delineated," than that the noblesse of Europe, are, in general, less happy than the common people. There is one irrefragable proof of it, which is, that they do not maintain their own population. Fainilies, like stars, or candles, which you will, are going out continually; and without fresh recruits from the plebeians, the nobility would, in time, be extinct. If you make allowances for the state, which they are condemned by themselves to support, they are poorer than the poordeeply in debt--and tributary to usurious capitalists, as greedy as the Jews.?*

Persons in the intermediate grades between the very top and the very bottom of the scale of life, have precious advantages over those who are placed in either extreme. That they have advantages over the lowest, all will readily admit; and that they have some important advantages over the highest, is a position equally true. In point of real, solid comfort and happiness, the condition of the farmer or mechanic, who supplies his daily wants by the labor of his own hands, is infinitely preferable to that of the roblesse above described; who, for want of regular occupation, are under the hard necessity of resorting to numberless expedients and devices, to wear out the tedious moments of their earthly existence. Even whilst, with the utmost eagerness, they are seemingly pursuing pleasure, their chief efforts are to escape from misery, hy killing the time which hangs so heavily upon their minds.For as to pleasure, they are so surfeited of it, that they seek it only as preferable to the distressing tediousness of total inaction.

Although, fortunately, in these United States, there are no hereditary ranks, that fix, as it were by never

* Discourses on Davilla, by the late president Adams.

« ПретходнаНастави »