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WORKS AND DAYS



THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. SAN DI6

LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA



bg IHr.

MY STUDY FIRE

MY STUDY FIRE, SECOND SERIES

UNDER THE TREES AND ELSEWHERE

SHORT STUDIES IN LITERATURE

ESSAYS IN LITERARY INTERPRETATION

ESSAYS ON NATURE AND CULTURE

BOOKS AND CULTURE

ESSAYS ON WORK AND CULTURE

THE LIFE OF THE SPIRIT

NORSE STORIES

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

FOREST OF ARDEN

CHILD OF NATURE

WORKS AND DAYS

PARABLES OF LIFE

MY STUDY FIRE. Illustrated

UNDER THE TREES. Illustrated



WORKS AND DAYS
BY HAMILTON WRIGHT
MABIE




NEW YORK: PUBLISHED BY
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
MDCCCCIII



Copyright, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902,
BY THE OUTLOOK COMPANY.

Copyright, 1902,

BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY,
All rights reserved.



First Edition Published April, 1902.



SSntbersftg
JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE, U. S. A.



TO
MARSHAL HUNTINGTON BRIGHT



CONTENTS

PAGB

THE HIGHEST SERVICE OF LOVE i

CHARACTER AND FATE 9

TAKING HOLD 19

LOOKING AHEAD 22

WORKING OUT 25

SHARING SUCCESS 28

THE SMALLER VISION 31

ON GUARD 34

THE REAL PREPARATION 37

THE LIGHT OF FAITH 42

MORAL USES OF MEMORY 45

PAGAN WORDS 49

THE LESSON OF LIFE 53

TRUE SELF-CONFIDENCE 59

UNUSED POWER 63

THE POSITIVE LIFE 67

WHICH BACKGROUND ? 74

THE PRAYER OF LOVE 78

PERSONAL ATMOSPHERE 83

THE LARGER RELATIONSHIP 88

vii



Contents

PACK

IN REMEMBRANCE 93

THE CONTAGION OF FAITH 96

DANGEROUS FOES 102

INVITING THE BEST THINGS 108

THE GRACE OF GOODNESS 113

PERSONAL DEFLECTION 119

THE DISCIPLINE OF SUCCESS 123

THE BEST PREPARATION 128

FAITH-INSPIRERS 132

THE TEST OF OPPORTUNITY 136

THE STERILITY OF RESTLESSNESS 140

SOMETHING TO BE CULTIVATED 144

THE TRIUMPHANT LIFE 148

THE BEST IN THE WORST 151

SPIRITUAL SELF-RELIANCE 154

THE HIGHEST VALUE ON OURSELVES .... 159

PATIENT LOYALTIES 163

CHERISH YOUR IDEALS 166

THE DENIALS OF GOD 169

THE SOUL OF WORK 172

SELF AND OTHERS 177

WAIT FOR RESULTS 181

AT OUR DOORS 185

AFTER THE NIGHT 188

SUCCESS IN FAILURE 192

GREATER THAN HEREDITY 198

THE SECRET OF FRESHNESS 202

PATIENCE WITH OURSELVES 207

viii



Contents

PAGB

GIVE AND TAKE 211

WORK THAT NOURISHES 214

NOT GETTING BUT GIVING 217

STRENGTH OUT OF WEAKNESS 220

WAITING 223

A BEAUTIFUL TALENT 227

THE SUPREME SERVICE 230

LIVE IN TO-DAY 233

A HINT FROM A POEM 236

THE CORRUPTION OF SELF-PITY 240

THE REAL POWER IN LIFE 243

THE GRACE OF OPPORTUNITY 246

FORGETTING THE THINGS THAT ARE BEHIND . 249

BELIEVE IN YOUR WORK 253

EARN YOUR SUCCESS 256

LIGHT IN THE SHADOW 262

THE WASTE OF FRICTION 266

DISCIPLINE OF HINDRANCE 271

THE LIMITS OF HELPFULNESS 275

HEALTHY DISCONTENT 280

LOVE AND WORK 283

ASPIRATION AND AMBITION 287

THE GRACE OF ACCEPTANCE 293

THE BETTER WAY 296



WORKS AND DAYS



THE HIGHEST SERVICE
OF LOVE

AFTER all that has been said in so
many forms of speech, love re
mains unexplained and unfathomable ;
we know its manifestations, its modes
of expression, its surrenders and sacri
fices, but the heart of it we do not know ;
if we could penetrate this mystery, we
should understand God. The mys
tery of God, which lies like a luminous
cloud about us, would be revealed if
it were possible to analyze and probe
to the bottom any pure human love.
Wherever love is, there dwells the
mystery of God ; mysterious because
it is too sacred for the searching of
thought alone, and too vast for the



Works and Days

capacity of present experience. The
touch of the infinite is upon it, and it
shares the boundlessness of the infinite ;
for no time is set for its duration, and
no limits for its growth. Age, pain,
weariness, sorrow, denial, do not weaken
it ; and it faces death with sublime
indifference.

There is an instinct in the soul of
love which knows that it is immortal.
There come to it at times the premoni
tions of eternity ; it cries out for in
finite capacity and limitless time. No
language is adequate to bear the burden
of its expression or to reveal the glory
of its pure and passionate craving to
serve, to give, to surrender, to be and
to do for the child, the wife, or the
friend to whom it goes out in a silent,
unreturning tide. After it has said
everything, it retreats baffled and help
less because it has left everything un
said. Its constant pain is the burden
of unexpressed feeling. Try as it may
every form of speech known to men,



The Highest Service of Love

and in its heart of hearts there remains
the consciousness that the deepest and
truest things have not been said. The
heart of man has overflowed in song, in
art, in noble devotions of word and
deed, but the heart of man is still an
unplumbed sea. If love were mortal,
it could find a voice sweet enough and
of adequate compass to convey that
which lies in the depths of its being;
but how shall the immortal put on
mortality? When the Infinite, twenty
centuries ago, put on the finite, and the
immortal wore the garments of the
mortal, the divine was compelled to
hold back the most glorious part of its
nature because there was no language
among men fine enough for its purity
or capacious enough for its vastness.
Christ was not only the revelation but
the veiling of the Father. If love were
finite,, it would not bear forever in its
heart a deep sense of helplessness ; it is
ready to give all, do all, save all, but it can
give only a cup of water where it would
3



Works and Days

open a fountain, and plead and pray
where it would gladly lay down its life.
The pain of love is rooted in its im
mortality.

And as its pain of unexpressed feeling
and devotion is rooted in its immortality,
so also is its divinest revelation of itself.
For the highest service of love is not to
console but to inspire, not to comfort
but to stimulate. In the wreckage of
hopes which sometimes overtakes the
strongest and the best, love alone finds
a hearing, and brings that sense of com
panionship which is the beginning of
consolation. Wherever darkness settles,
there shines the light of love ; and when
the smitten arise out of the prostration
of grief, it is the leading of this light
which they follow with steps that grow
stronger as they struggle on. The sor
row of the world has always sought the
heart of love as its only place of hope.

But love has a higher ministry ; its
glory is not in service in hours of dis
aster, but in its noble compulsion to do
4



The Highest Service of Love

and to seek the best.*' He loves best
who demands and secures the highest
from the loved one.*/ The mother loves
her child most divinely, not when she
surrounds him with comfort and antici
pates his wants, but when she resolutely
holds him to the highest standards and
is content with nothing less than his best.
The immortality of love shines in a
home, not when blindness shuts the eyes
of the mother and wife, but when the
clear-sightedness of her love reveals it
self in the greatness of her demands and
expectations. It is a fable that love is
blind : passion is often blind, but love
never. They who love are sometimes
blind to the faults of those for whom
they care, but not because they love
them. When love has its way, it grows
more clear-sighted as it becomes deeper
and purer. Happy is the child to whom
the love of a mother is a noble stimulus,
and fortunate the man whose wife stands
not for his self-satisfaction but for his
aspiration a visible witness to the
5



Works and Days

reality of his ideal, and unflinchingly
loyal not only to him but to it.

For love, being immortal, cannot rest
in anything less than the immortal in
another; it craves perfection because
perfection is the sign of imperishable-
ness ; men gather up and carry the per
fect things from century to century
because these beautiful finalities of char
acter, of speech, of art, of action, confirm
its hope of immortality. He who truly
loves is irreconcilable to faults in one
whom he loves ; they blur the vision
which always lies in his soul, and in
the beauty of which his heart finds undy
ing freshness of devotion and joy of
anticipation.

The wisdom of love, which is wise in
exact proportion to its depth and self-
realization, is shown in its exactions
rather than in its indulgences. The
ministry of consolation is divinely ap
pointed, and love knows all its potencies ;
but love also knows that nothing is ever
really lost in this world except oppor-
6



The Highest Service of Love

tunity ; all other losses, however bitter,
are for the moment. With this wisdom
in its heart, love knows that it saves
most when it saves life for those whom
it loves ; for life is not simple existence ;
it is growth, and the things which come
with growth. He loves me most who
helps me to do and to be the best and
the greatest in any human relation, not
he who says the most comforting things
to me when death has interrupted that
relation. That fellowship, if it was true,
will survive the touch of death ; but if I
have missed the heart of it by accepting
something less than the best it had to
offer, who shall call back the vanished
years and restore the lost opportunity ?
I part from my friends, but I do not
lose them ; what I lose is the growth,
the unfolding, the task, the vision, the
chance of love in this present hour.

" Send some one, Lord, to love the

best that is in me, and to accept nothing

less from me ; to touch me with the

searching tenderness of the passion for

7



Works and Days

the ideal ; to demand everything from
me for my own sake ; to give me so
much that I cannot think of myself, and
to ask so much that I can keep nothing
back ; to console me by making me
strong before sorrow comes ; to help me
so to live that, while I part with many
things by the way, I lose nothing of the
gift of life."



CHARACTER AND FATE

THERE has always been a passion
ate protest in the heart of the race
against that element in life which men
call fate ; the play upon unprotected
natures of those events, accidents, calam
ities, which are beyond human control.
These arbitrary happenings are often
tragic in their consequences ; they often
seem wholly irrational ; they have at
times a touch of brutal irony. In many
cases one is tempted to personify fate as
a malignant spirit, studiously and with
malicious cunning seeking ways of wound
ing, stinging, bruising and poisoning the
most sensitive souls. There have been
human careers so completely distorted and
thwarted that it has seemed as if the gods
were jealous of men, and anxious to rob
the greatest rewards of their sweetness and
the noblest achievements of their fruit.
So often are the prizes snatched from
9



Works and Days

the strong hand that had grasped them
that the Greek poets could not withdraw
their gaze from that irony which at times
appears to make human life the mere
sport of the higher powers. The gods
seemed to be mocking men by holding
out glittering gifts and then suddenly
snatching them away. And this play of
what appears to be blind force still has
its way in the world. The noblest cathe
dral is at the mercy of the earthquake ;
the divinest picture or poem may be
turned to ashes in a brief quarter of an
hour; the misplacing of a switch may
wreck the most commanding intellect ;
a moment's inattention may break the
happiest circle and cloud the fairest sky.
The conditions under which men live
have remained unchanged except as
human foresight and skill have changed
them ; but in that simple statement lies
an immense change of point of view.
There are still mysteries in the ordering
of the world which have not been solved
and probably are insoluble in this stage



10



Character and Fate

of development ; but we have discovered
that nature is our friend and teacher in
the exact degree in which we learn her
ways and co-operate with her. The area
of what once appeared to be mere blind
interferences with human activity and
happiness steadily contracts ; the area of
beneficent and helpful relationship stead
ily widens. Men are now safe where
they were once in peril ; they are now
masters where they were once servants.
Through what seemed the play of
mere physical force there now shines
the light of that great movement upward
which we call development ; that sublime
conception which, as one of the most
spiritual thinkers of our generation has
said, has come to light just in time to
save some of the finest and most sensitive
spirits from despair. For that conception
not only involves a progressive order
working in the place of what seemed to
be a blind force ; it involves also a pro
gressive inclusion of all human interests
in a system vast as the universe and old
ii



Works and Days

as eternity, and yet mindful of each soul's
welfare and growth. A vision of order
slowly becoming clearer as all things work
together for the good of those who obey,
throws new light on what appeared to be
the waste and sheer brutality of the past ;
and where we do not understand, we can
wait : since we may rest in the assurance
that we are not the victims of a merciless
physical order nor the sport of those who
have power but not righteousness, the
willingness to hurt but not the wish to
heal.

We are learning also that a very large
part of the happenings and experiences
which once seemed to come to men un
sought are really invited, and are only
the outward and visible fruits of inward
dispositions and tendencies. Human
responsibility is very much more inclu
sive than it appears to be at the first
glance, and men are far more completely
the masters of their fate than they are
prone to believe or confess. In fact, in
any searching analysis, the power of what

12



Character and Fate

we call fate shrinks to very small propor
tions. It is our habit to relieve ourselves
of our own responsibility in small matters
by invoking the bogy of bad luck, and
in large matters by charging upon fate
the ill fortune which we have brought
upon ourselves. Many men and women
suffer themselves to be comforted and
deceived all their lives by these illusive
agencies or spectres of their own making.
The results of their own blindness, care
lessness, lack of judgment, neglect of
opportunities, misleading egotism, are
quietly and persistently put to the charge
of luck or fate ; and the self-fashioned
sufferer takes another step in self-decep
tion by drugging himself with that most
enervating of all forms of consolation,
self-pity. Hosts of men and women go
through their lives without once looking
their deeds in the face or seeing them
selves with clear eyes. They comfort
themselves with lies until they lose the
power of sight; they disown the fruits
of their own sowing.
13



Works and Days

No words have pierced this demoraliz
ing illusion with more searching force
than Emerson's great phrase, " Character
is destiny." When a man perceives that
he is living in a world of absolute moral
order, witnessed alike in the obediences
and disobediences of men ; that what he
reaps he has sown, and that he can and will
reap nothing else ; that his career is shaped
and framed by his own will ; that the
great experiences which come to him for
good or ill, for misery or blessedness, do
not pursue him, but are invited by him ;
that a man's spirit attracts the things
which are congenial to it and rejects those
which are alien when a man perceives
these things, he is in the way of honest
living and of spiritual growth. Until he
does see these facts and accept them, he
deludes himself, and his judgment of life
is worthless.

Few things are more significant than
the slow and often unconscious building
of a home for his spirit which every man
carries to completion. When the birds



Character and Fate

build their nests, they have access to the
same materials, but what different selec
tions they make, and how far apart their
methods are ! Every one who comes
into life has access to substantially the
same material ; but each selects that
which belongs to him. By instinct
or by intelligence he builds his home
with unerring adaptation to the needs
and quality of his nature. To the pure
all things are pure ; to the impure all
things are impure. The unselfish con
struct a beautiful order of service and
helpfulness about them ; the selfish make
their own places. Honor and confidence
and rectitude are in the air when the
man of sensitive integrity appears ; sus
picion, mistrust and doubt pervade the
place where the man without character
abides. Clean and comforting thoughts
fly to the pure in heart ; debasing fancies
gather like foul birds around the man
whose imagination is a home of corrup
tion. If we look deeply, a wonderful
fitness reveals itself between those we



Works and Days

know well and their several fortunes.
Calamity may bear heavily upon them,
but the moral world they construct for
themselves out of the substance of their
own natures is indestructible. Life is
august and beautiful, or squalid and
mean as we interpret and use it; the
materials are in all men's hands, and the
selection and structure inevitably and
infallibly disclose the character of the
builder. As a beautiful woman furnishes
her home until it becomes an externaliza-
tion of her own ideals and qualities, and
then fills it with the charm and sweetness
of her own personality until it becomes
a material expression of her own nature,
so do we all silently, and for the most
part unconsciously, form spiritual envi
ronments and fashion the world in which
we live.

There are few sublimer promises in
the Bible than that which the words
" Light is sown for the righteous " con
vey but cannot contain. This sublime
phrase points the way to that complete
16



Character and Fate

freedom which the human spirit craves ;
that final emancipation from the forces
which it does not choose and cannot con
trol, which marks the full maturity of
spiritual development. It promises the
gradual supremacy of the soul over all
accidents, happenings, forces and mate
rials ; its final emancipation from all
servitude. As life goes on, fate grows
less and less, character grows more and
more ; the fields become more com
pletely our own, and yield nothing which
we have not sown ; the correspondence
between our spirits and our fortunes
becomes more complete, until fate is con
quered by and merged into character.
In the long run a man becomes what
he proposes, and gains for himself what
he really desires. We not only fashion
our own lives, but, in a very true sense,
as Omar Khayyam intimates, we make
heaven or hell for ourselves. It is idle
to talk about luck, fortune, or fate ; these
words survive from the childhood of the
race ; they have historical interest, but

2 I 7



Works and Days

they have no moral value to-day. No one
can hide behind them or bring them into
court as competent witnesses on his be
half. It is wise to face the ultimate
truth which must sooner or later confront
us : we make or mar ourselves, and are
the masters of our own fates and fortunes.



18



TAKING HOLD

THERE are thousands of men and
women in the world who seem to
be living under a cloud of predestined
failure; nothing that they touch turns
out successfully ; the very stars in their
courses seem to fight against them. Now,
out of this multitude there are some who
are facing material misfortune by the
operation of causes which they are power
less to control, and to whom, therefore,
the only success is a noble and heroic ac
ceptance of failure; but there are many
more whose lack of success lies in them
selves. They have lost their grip on life ;
they go through the motions of activity,
but there is no heart in their work, no
vim in their onset against obstacles. If
the kingdom of heaven must be taken
by force, much more must the earthly
victory be won by bold, aggressive attack.
No one can succeed who holds his work
19



Works and Days

at arm's length and goes into it faint
hearted and presaging failure before he
has struck the first blow. The world
presents an apparently solid and defiant
front to the man or woman who must
find a place in its ranks, but it is aston
ishing how soon it makes room for a
new-comer who does not sue for place
and work, but takes both as if they be
longed to him. Aggressive faith in the
success of character, aptitude, and pluck
is contagious ; the man who has it soon
communicates it to others ; the man who
has it not need not expect others to create
it for him. God appointed work for
every earnest and self-respecting soul ;
without work of some sort no man or
woman can lead a respectable life in this
world. God also appointed the rewards
of work to follow after it as certainly as
the harvest follows the sowing. The
true farmer does not go into his fields
faint-hearted and despondent, distrusting
the march of the sun or the coming of
the harvest ; he trusts implicitly that



20



Taking Hold

ordering of the seasons which has never
yet failed, and he knows that for every
unfruitful year there will be a dozen
fruitful ones. Take hold of life in the
same spirit ; put out of your mind all
thought of failure, and out of your heart
the weakness that springs from it ; strike
boldly, and strike strongly, with full
faith in yourself, your destiny, and God !



21



LOOKING AHEAD

THE story of the unhappy woman
who turned back in her flight from
destruction, and remained forever trans
fixed, teaches a universal lesson. There
is no subtler temptation than that which
prompts strong men to recall past weak
nesses and former transgressions and to
surrender to the feeling of discourage
ment which always follows in the train of
such recollections. The memory of
failures and sins ought to keep us humble,
but they ought not to weaken us ; it is a
satanic immortality of evil which binds
the load of remembered sins on the pil
grim's back so securely that neither the
consciousness of the Divine love nor of
genuine repentance can loosen and cast it
off. This temptation to doubt the real
ity of sorrow for misdoings and of the
infinite compassion which makes them,
though they were scarlet, whiter than

22



Looking Ahead

snow, comes to those who are best
equipped for usefulness and most sen
sitive to their own shortcomings. Those
who are really pure at heart suffer ten
fold for their offences, and are the easy
prey of the temptation which prompts
them to turn back when their gaze should
be forward.

Men are slowly reversing some of
their old and false conceptions of life, and
among them the thought of human life
as a continual fall from a former state of
health and soundness, rather than as a
possible growth out of imperfection into
strength and purity. We do not expect
the calyx-covered bud to breathe forth
the sweetness of the flower, nor the flower
to possess the ripeness of the fruit.
Neither should we look for perfectness,
for full and rounded symmetry, in a de
velopment which moves slowly, stage by
stage, through the long education of ex
perience, to remote and final complete
ness. The golden age is behind us only
in the heathen myths; in the Christian
23



Works and Days

prophecies it always lies ahead. The
lily is not less fair or fragrant because its
roots are in the mud ; its saintly purity
is the whiter because of the transforma
tion which it has wrought in the ele
ments of its life. A human character,
full of inspiration, drawn upward by all
the impulses of its nature when they are
brought into harmony and educated into
strength, is not less noble because of the
hours of weakness through which it has
passed. If God's promises are true, the
stains which it feels, and which others
perhaps remember, are no longer visible
to One who sees all things as they are.
The sure defence against the temptation
to be weakened by the memory of past
sins is to look ahead ; to feel that one's
true life lies always in advance, and never
behind ; that out of weakness true peni
tence brings strength, and out of sorrow
there may be formed a crown of joy.



WORKING OUT

THERE are dark hours in most
lives, when the threads in one's
hand fly into an apparently hopeless
tangle, and the fair design that was
beginning to discover itself is for the
moment lost entirely, everything seems
to turn to ashes, and one looks in vain
for a ray of light to beckon him on
through a darkness that has become im
penetrable. These are the hours that
try men's souls, and test their characters
as by fire. If one has been buoyed up
and sustained hitherto by favoring cir


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