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1. It has been said that men succeed in life quite as much by their temper as by their talents. However this may be, it is certain that their happiness in life depends mainly upon their equanimity of disposition, their patience and forbearance, their kindness and thoughtfulness for those about them. In seeking the good of others we find our own. There are some natures so happily constituted that they can find good in everything. There is no calamity so great but they can educe consolation from it, no sky so black but they can see somewhere in it a gleam of brightness; or if the sun be not visible to their eyes, they at least comfort themselves with the thought that it is there, though veiled from them for some good, inscrutable purpose.
2. Though cheerfulness is much a matter of inborn temperament, it may be cultivated like any other habit. We may make the best of life or the worst of it, and it depends much upon ourselves whether we extract from it joy or misery. Encourage the disposition of looking at the bright side of things rather than the dark; and while you see the cloud, do not shut your eyes to the silver lining. Cheerfulness is the bright weather of the heart. How is it that we see such men as Palmerston growing old in harness, working on vigorously to the end? The reason is, they preserve their cheerfulness and equanimity of temper. They have educated themselves to the habit of endurance, of not being easily provoked, of bearing and forbearing, of hearing harsh and unjust things said of them without indulging in unprofitable resentment.
3. Johnson was of the opinion that a man grows better as he grows older, and that his nature mellows with age. This is certainly a much more cheerful view of human nature than that of Lord Chesterfield, who saw life through the eyes of a cynic, and held that "the heart never grows better by age; it only grows harder." But both sayings may be true, according to the point from which life is viewed and the temper by which a man is governed; for while the good, profiting by experience
and disciplining themselves by self-control, will grow better, the ill-conditioned will only grow worse.
4. Sir Walter Scott was a man full of the milk of human kindness. "Give me an honest laugher," he used to say; and he himself laughed the heart's laugh. He had a kind word for everybody, and his kindness acted like a contagion, dispelling the reserve and awe which his great name was calculated to inspire. "He'll come here," said the keeper of the ruins of Melrose Abbey to Washington Irving "he'll come here some time with great folks in his company, and the first I know of it is hearing his voice calling out, 'Johnny! Johnny Bower!' And when I go out, I'm sure to be greeted with a joke or a pleasant word. He'll stand and laugh with me just like an auld wife; and to think that of a man who has such an awfu' knowledge of history!"
5. Sidney Smith was another illustration of the power of cheerfulness. Whether working as country curate or as parish rector, he was always kind, laborious, patient and exemplary, exhibiting in every sphere of life the spirit of a Christian, the kindness of a pastor and the honor of a gentleman. He employed his pen on the side of justice, freedom, education, toleration, emancipation, and his writings, though full of common sense and bright humor, are never vulgar. Never does he cater to prejudice or make bids for popularity. His good spirits, thanks to his natural vivacity and stamina of constitution, never forsook him; and in his old age, when borne down by disease, he wrote to a friend: "I have gout, asthma and seven other maladies, but am otherwise very well." In another letter he wrote: If you hear of sixteen or eighteen pounds of flesh wanting an owner, they belong to me. I look as if a curate had been taken out of me."
6. The poet Rogers used to tell a story of a little girl, a great favorite with every one who knew her. Some one said to her, "Why does every one love you so much?" She answered, "I think it is because I love every one so much." The story is capable of a very wide application, for our happiness as human beings will be found to be very much in
proportion to the number of things we love and the number of things that love us. And the greatest worldly success, however honestly achieved, will contribute comparatively little to happiness, unless it be accompanied by a lively benevolence toward every human being.
7. The true basis of cheerfulness, then, next to a good conscience, is love, hope and patience. Love evokes love and begets loving-kindness. Love cherishes hopeful and generous thoughts of others. It is charitable, gentle and truthful. It is a discerner of good. It turns to the brightest side of things, and its face is ever directed toward happiness. It sees "the glory in the grass, the splendor in the flower." It encourages happy thoughts, and lives in an atmosphere of gladness. It costs nothing, and yet it is invaluable, for it blesses its possessor and grows up in abundant contentment in the bosoms of others. Even its sorrows are linked with pleasures and its very tears are sweet.
"He who loves best knows most: then why should I
In quest of knowledge underneath the sun,
Is there a riddle, and resolved you need it?
8. The restless, anxious, dissatisfied temper that is ever ready to run and meet care halfway is fatal to all happiness and peace of mind. For want of a little command over one's temper, what frightful evils-evils in families and in societyare introduced! Though sometimes small evils," says Richard Sharp, "like invisible insects, inflict great pain, and a single hair may stop a vast machine, yet the chief secret of comfort lies in not suffering trifles to vex us, and in prudently cultivating an undergrowth of small pleasures, since very few great ones, alas! are let on long leases."
9. St. Francis de Sales treats the same topic from the Christian's point of view. "How carefully," he says, "we should cherish the little virtues that spring up at the foot of the Cross!" When asked, "What virtues do you mean?" he replied, "Humility, patience, meekness, benignity, bearing one another's burden, condescension, softness of heart, cheerfulness, cordiality, compassion, forgiveness of injuries, simplicity, candor,-all, in short, of that class of little virtues. Like unobtrusive violets, they love the shade; like them are sustained by dew, and though, like them, they make little show, they shed a sweet odor on all around. If you would fall into any extreme, let it be on the side of gentleness. The human mind is so fashioned that it resists rigor and yields to softness. A mild word quenches anger as water quenches the rage of fire. Truth, uttered with courtesy, heaps coals of fire on the head, or rather throws roses in the face. How can we resist a foe whose weapons are pearls and diamonds?”
SELECT ETYMOLOGIES.-Abbey, a monastery; fr. the Chaldee ab'ba, a father; h., a church dignitary. . . . Achieve: F. achever (ăsh-vā), to complete; fr. L. ad, to, cap'ut, the head. Answer: A. S. andswarian; and, against, and swerian, to affirm. Calamity: L. calam'itas. Cherish F. cherir (shě-reer), to love dearly; cher (shair), dear; fr. L. ca'rus, dear; h., caress, charity (L. ca'ritas), cheerfulness, etc. . . . Consolation: L. consola'tio; fr. con and so'lor, sola'tus, to comfort; h., dis-consolate, in-con-solable, solace, etc. . . . Courtesy: fr. court; fr. L. co'hors, a cattle-yard, an inclosed place, the multitude inclosed, a body of soldiers; h., cohort, court, courtier, courtly, escort, etc. . . . Cross: L. crux, cru'cis, a cross for the punishment of malefactors; h., crosier, crucial, crucible (a melting-pot, formerly marked with a cross), cruci-fy, cruci-fix, ex-cruciate.
Cynic: Gr. ku'nikos, dog-like; fr. ku'on, a dog. . . . Diamond: Gr. ad'amas, the hardest steel. . . . Exemplary: L. exemplum, a model or copy; h., example, exemplify, sample (a corruption of example), etc... Fåvor: L.; fr. făv'eo, I befriend; h., favorite. . . . Humor: L., fluid of any kind; h., humid, humorous. Inscrutable: fr. L. in-, not, and scru'tor, I search; h., scrutiny, scrutinize. Odor: L.; h., in-odorous, etc. . . . Parish: fr. the Gr. paroi'kos, dwelling beside another; fr. par'a, by, near, and oi'kos, a house. Reason: F. raison; fr. L. ra'tio, a reckoning, fr. re'or, ra'tus, to reckon; h., ir-rational, rate, rati-fy, ratiocination, ration, rational, etc. Rose: L. ro'sa; h., roseate, rosary. Tolerate :
uter, outer, extreme.
L. tol'ero, tolera'tum; h., in-tolerable, tolerance, etc. Utter: A. S. ut, out, Virtue: L. vir'tus, bravery, moral perfection; fr. vir, a man; h., virtuoso (a man skilled in the fine arts), virtual, etc.: fr. vir, are, virago, virile, virility. . . . Vulgar: L. vulga'ris; fr. vulgus, the common people; h., di-vulge, pro-mulgate, vulgate (an ancient Latin version of the Scriptures), etc.