Henry Ward Beecher.

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after restraint : and the more he puts
on the stronger and freer he is ; for
liberty is obedience to law all the
world over.

79. Manhood the Beauty of Man. —
There can be no doubt (though there
have been disputes among archaeolo-
gists on the subject) that the Greeks
colored and gilded the statues which
adorned their temples. And undoubt-
edly those statues were more magnifi-
cent for being colored and gilded.
But now that time has rubbed off the
paint, and they are without a particle
of embellishment, and are simple
marble statues, they are exquisite
still. That is the case with a man
whose force lies in his essential good-
ness and real manliness. Wealth may
make him more beautiful ; but strip
him of wealth, and he does not lose
anything. The man is there yet.

80. The Ideal Man.— When you
consider the intricacy of a construc-
tion like Babbage's calculating ma-
chine, it tires your brain and you give
up attempting to form a conception of
it. When you consider the problems
which are involved in a great astro-
nomical calculation, they are so many
and so intricate that unless one has
rare genius and long practice they are
insoluble to him. But no physical
problems such as these are compara-
ble to the difficulty which there is in
the development of absolute power
and cooperative harmony in the ideal
perfect man.

81. The Sin Against the Holy Ghost.
— This is not a sin which one can com-
mit by accident, and without knowing
it. " The unpardonable sin " is not a
single act, but a comprehensive state
of mind : that is, a sin which applies
to the whole condition to which a man
has brought himself by repeated per-



vcrsiuiis, and in whicli you may say
his moral condition is broken down.

No man ever becomes dissipated at
once. No man, no matter what his
experience may be, can become ut-
terly dissipated in a week — and still
less in a day or an hour. But a man
can, by days, and weeks, and months,
and years, become so dissipated as to
have broken down his whole bodily
constitution ; as to have sapped and
sucked dry the brain ; as to have im-
paired every nerve ; as to have over-
strained every organ. Every part of
a man's body may be utterly de-
stroyed by dissipation.

Now, there _is a dissipation of the
soul which corresponds to the dissipa-
tion of the body. It comes on by the
perversion of a man's reason; by the
perversion of his moral sympathies ;
by the perversion of his choices ; by
the perversion of his judgment in re-
spect to things right and wrong. It is
a gradually accumulating process. It
is not a single act. It is the compre-
hensive result of a long series of vari-
ous acts.

82. Cruelty of Man. — I do not know
of anything else that is so cruel as
man. Lions are not ; tigers are not ;
wolves are not ; serpents are not. A
lion was made to eat meat ; but he
never kills any more than he wants,
and he does not kill that for cruelty.
He makes use of his power simply for
the purveyance of his own necessities.
It is only man that revenges. It is
only man that studies cruelty, and
makes it exquisite, and prolongs it,
and carries it out with appliances of
art. From the despot on the throne
to the despot of the household, the
race has carried vengeance, bitter-
ness, wrath, hurtfulness, as character-
istic of the whole. There has been
enough blood shed by the hand of
man to bear up the navies of the

globe. When a lion sheds blood, he
laps it up. When man sheds blood,
he does not eat it ; it falls to the
ground, and cries for vengeance.
The earth has been wet with blood.
Tears have flowed like rivers. This
has not occurred merely once in some
great cycle. It has been the constant
history of mankind. Time has walked
ankle-deep in tears and blood on the
face of the earth from the beginning.

83. The Evil Life.— A bad man,
whose life is a failure in all its moral
purposes — what is that ? It is like the
burned districts in Charleston — which
was the saddest sight I ever saw in my
life. I walked up and down its streets,
and took a lesson which, if I were to
live a thousand years, would never die
out of me. It was a city of my own
land. I loved it as I love my own.
The fire had devoured it. There
stood the stacks of chimneys, gaunt
against the avenging sky ; and there
stood the tottering walls ; and there
huge heaps of noisome materials,
where reptiles resorted ; weeds grew
rankly, and the dried stalks of last
year's weeds grimly stood thick all
around. Street after street was marked
with emptiness and desolation. Such
seems to me to be the life of many a
man, all the ways of whose life are
cumbered with the wrecks of the past,
and all of whose plans at last shall
perish as with an eternal fire and
desolation. Oh, to live so, and to die
so, and then to take the fate of the
other life as best you may — how
piteous !

84. Smooth Natures Admirable but
not Attractive. — One loves to see a
strong man regulated and good, but
regulation ought not to stand in the
place of great natural impulses in the
right direction. We want the heart to
think for the head as well as the head
for the heart. A man whose banks



have been laid for him by nature,
stone by stone, smooth and even, is a
canal, whose waters are economically
regulated, just enough for profitable
use, and not a drop more. Every
wave and swell is combed out, every
wrinkle is smoothed, and every drop,
seemingly, is walking down to the
mill with a sense of its duty to turn the
wheel around. Canals are very good,
but men do not sing or make poems
about canals.

85. Unheroic Heroes. — A character
that is perfectly round and balanced is
never so interesting in its details as
one that is fitful. Not that landscape
which is smoothest is the most taking
to the eye, but the roughest and the
rudest. And characters that are well
knit together do not catch men's ad-
miration as those do that have chasms,
and falls, and chfifs — strong qualities.
It is always easier to live with a round
and well-balanced mind, but we admire
the other sort, and make heroes of
them. So it is that the young and in-
experienced are perpetually tempted
to make heroes of men that are not
heroic and that are unfit to be im-
itated. And hence it has come to be
a saying that the faults of strong men
are the things that are the easiest

86. Spirit Races, beyond Man. — No
one is prepared to say that there are
not spiritual conflicts between realms
of spirits which render it absolutely
necessary that we should have a
superhuman guide and leader. We
are not the only people that were ever
created. The habit of God's mind
seems to be to take a germ, one root-
idea, and to prove what infinite vari-
ations it is susceptible of. Take the
root-idea of ferns. In all the varieties
of ferns there is a substantial unity,
but the ways in which God writes that
idea are many. . . .

As a theme in music, consisting of
a few distinct notes, which are heard
plainly at first, when it is elaborated
on the organ is only recognized now
and then, sometimes as though it were
the voice of a bird flying and hum-
ming through the air, sometimes as
though it were the sound of horns,
sometimes as though it were the tone
of a sweet flute, and sometimes as
though it were all of these combined,
but always with variations, so you
will find that God, in every depart-
ment of his creation, though he began
with a single thought, in carrying it
out evolved endless variations.

When we come to man, are we not
to suppose that the same thing is true ?
Is it not reasonable to suppose that
the divine creative capacity was not
exhausted in making the numerous
races of the globe ? Are we to sup-
pose that what we see in this world
is the sum of the literature which God
has produced from the alphabet in
which this was written ?

87. True Manhood. — The Stoics
held that the true type of manhood
was that of one who had so trained, so
seared, so hardened the heart, that it
was like the inside of a blacksmith's
hand, grown thick and callous, so that
it had no feeling in it. The absence
of suffering was the Stoical idea of
greatness of nature. But the Chris-
tian idea is the great power of victory
in suffering. The Christian was sym-
bolized by God in the burning bush —
the bush unconsumed. The Christian
idea of human nature was that of a
man who, inspired by the Holy Ghost,
stood in the midst of trial and danger
stronger and happier while suffering.

88. Faith in Womanhood. — I tliink
I am more grateful to God for the
sense that came to me through my
mother and sisters of the substantial
integrity, purity and nobility of woman-



hood tluin for almost anything else in
this world. After a long life 1 can say
that I have not lost faith in woman.
The longer I live the more chivalric is
my regard for them. I should look
upon it as a fatal symptom of canker
in my soul if I fell from my confidence
in the general trustworthiness, hon-
esty, honor and chastity of woman-
hood. Therefore, when I hear young
men, or men in middle life, or old men,
cast gross aspersions on the character
of women, I feel as though I were in a
den of hissing serpents. My soul,
come not into communion with such
men, abhor them, pass them by, for
they are themselves far down in cor-
ruption !

89. Reverence for Women. — Do
you know why so often I speak what
must seem to some of you rhapsody,
of woman ? It is because I had a
mother. If I were to live a thousand
years I could not express what seems
to me to be the least that I owe to the
fact that I had a mother. Three
years old was I, when, singing, she
left me, and sang on to heaven, where
she sings forever more. I have only
such a remembrance of her as you
have of the clouds of ten years ago —
faint, evanescent ; and yet, caught by
imagination, and fed by that which I
have heard of her, and by what my
father's thought and feeling of her
were, it has come to be so much to me
that no devout Catholic ever saw so
much in the Virgin Mary as I have
seen in my mother, who has been a
presence to me ever since I can re-
member. I can never say enough of
woman for my mother's sake, for my
sisters' sake, for the sake of them that
liave gathered in the days of my in-
fancy about me, in return for what
they have interpreted to me of the
beauty of holiness, of the fullness of
love, and of the heavenliness of those

elements from which we are to in-
terpret heaven itself.

90. Woman's Influence. — There is
something wanting in the air when
you get west of the Alleghany moun-
tains on a sultry day of summer. The
air east of the mountain is supplied
with a sort of pabulum from the salt
water of the ocean, by which one is
sustained in the sultriest days of mid-
summer. Now what this salt element
is to the air, that is woman's influence
to the virtue of a community. You
breathe it without knowing it. All you
know is that you are made stronger
and better. And a man is not half a
man unless a woman helps him to be !

91. The Women at the Sepulcher.
— As in many cases, their hearts
proved surer and better guides than
their reason or their thoughts; for as
a root scents moisture in a dry place,
or a plant even in darkness aims
always at the light, so the heart for-
ever aims at hope and at immortality.
And it was a woman's heart here that
hung as the morning star of that bright
rising of the Sun of Righteousness. It
was love and fidelity that first found
out the resurrection, and it was not
the love of the disciple band — not
even of John; but the deeper and
more tender love of woman was the
pioneer of discovery.

92. Strength of Men and of Women.
— Man assumes, the world over, arch
supremacy. He forms his own judg-
ment, and determines that woman is
the inferior and weaker vessel, while
he is the superior and stronger vessel.
If you measure the base, man is the
stronger ; but if you measure the
top, woman is the stronger. If you
measure the roots, man has the
greater power; but if you measure the
branches, woman has the greater
power. In the solar flood, out where
the leaves play with God's sunhght,



and the blossoms fill the air with fra-
grance, woman is the stronger. Her
moral nature and her affectional na-
ture are stronger than man's. We
men may be stronger than women in
will and executive force; we deal with
matter and worldly things as they do
not; but those forces which deal with
sentiments and moral truths are
stronger in them than in us. Women
are constitutionally stronger in relig-
ious tendencies than men. It is not
because they are weak but because
they are strong that they are gathered
under the ministrations of religion in
greater numbers than men are; and it
is not true that only such men are re-
ligiously inclined as are weak of un-

93. The Developing Woman. — A
woman's nature will never be changed.
Men might spin and churn, and knit,
and sew, and cook, and rock the
cradle for a hundred generations, and
not be women. And woman will not
become man by external occupations.
God's colors do not wash out. Sex is
dyed in the wool. . . . Power and
versatility will not change the social
nor the moral qualities which we ad-
mire in woman. Letting God take
care of that nature of things which
man is powerless to change, all that
we ask is that power may be given to
virtue, and that those ways may be
free by which power is to be reaped.

94. Consecration of Natural Gifts.
— My second mother (the only one
that I knew) was the stateliest, and
the devoutest, and the most crystal-
line, and the loftiest of women. She
was undemonstrative in affection; but
she was my very ideal of propriety,
and elegance, and perfection, and
taste. And yet I remember that one
day when my father was playing on
the violin (it happened to be an old
melody that she was famihar with)

in a neighboring room, and we were
sitting in the dining-room, she came
out on the floor (for she had been a
belle, and had often tripped the light
fantastic toe) and lifted her hands
gracefully, and commenced dancing
around the room. I had never seen
such a thing in that house before. I
looked on with astonishment. The
color came to my cheeks, and the
light to my eyes. And I have thought
that if that mother had danced a little
oftener, and said the catechism a little
less often, it would have been a thou-
sand times better for me.

If you have gifts, whatever they
are, of beauty, consecrate them. If
you have the gift of art, consecrate it.
If you have the gift of eloquence,
consecrate it. If you have the gift of
poetry, consecrate it. If you have
the gift of emotion, consecrate it. If
you have any gift, whatever it is,
make sure that you root it in genuine
sympathy, and that you exercise it.

95. The Beauty of Woman. — God
did not make so much of nature with
exquisite beauty, or put within us
a taste for it, without object. He
meant that it should delight us. He
made every flower to charm us. He
never made a color, nor graceful, fly-
ing bird, nor silvery insect, without
meaning to please our taste. When
he clothes a man or a woman with
beauty, he confers a favor, and we
know how to receive it. Beauty,
with amiable dispositions and ripe in-
telligence, is more to any woman than
any queen's crown.

96. Heroism of Silence. — There is
many a woman who is heroic because
she can hold her tongue. Ah ! do
not laugh. You tie a man to the
stake, and let Indians dance about
him, and stick slivers into him, and
with torches light them, and if he
bears his suflfering patiently, do not



you see that he is heroic ? And lei a
woman stand where every inch of her
nature, which is exquisitely sensitive,
is subjected to the extremest torture,
and let her in spite of it all manifest a
disposition which is inexpressibly
lovely, and stand patiently, and
"having done all, stand," — is not she
heroic? There is many and many a
heroine by reason of the virtue of si-

97, Glory of Love's Servitude. —
When the wounds of the sick are to
be dressed, or when the offal of the
hospital is to be borne away, if a man
is hired who makes that his business
for money, we put one estimate upon
it. The under-hirelings of a hospital
are looked upon as drudges. But
when Florence Nightingale walks
through the wards of Scutari, and
with her own hands dresses the
wounds of the sick, and bears away
the offal of the hospital, or when, in
our own land, a Miss Barton, or a
Miss Woolsey, or any other of a thou-
sand angelic women, performs these
offices, tears drop from men's eyes in
admiration, and we all feel that there
are no words to express the gladness
of our souls. The thing done is the

same, whether done by a curmudgeon
or by a saintly woman ; but, in the
one case, it is done from the noblest
love, from the most self-sacrificing
humanity, and in the other, it is done
for money, and by a man that cares
only for the money. There are
offices which seem disagreeable, but
which, when done from a higher
and nobler reason, so crown the
head, that they who do them seem
to wear an aureole around their

98. Womanly Strength. — Many a
man has married a doll, and dandled
her, and carried her ; he was a great
engine working night and day for her
support : but when bankruptcy struck
him, and he lost his reputation, and
was oppressed with fear lest she should
break down, he became the babe, and
the doll became the bearer. Lifting
herself up in the midst of their trouble,
by words of faith and by calm cour-
age, she became the bishop and or-
dained the husband to a new ministry
and to a holier one. I tell you these
silent forces in the heart — the graces
of courage and of patience — are full
of elements which are unrecognized
in this life.


99. Love's Beginning. — On earth
there is nothing more beautiful than the
first breaking of the ground of young,
strong, new, pure love. No flower
that ever blossomed, however fair; no
fragrance that any flower ever emitted,
however sweet; no bravery of the sky;
no witchery of art; nothing that man
ever invented or imagined, is to be
compared with the hours of dawning
love in the young soul. And it is a
shame that men should be taught to be
ashamed of that which is the prophecy
of their highest being and glory.

100. Young Love. — First comes ac-
quaintance — that is May; then friend-
ship — that is June; then brother- and-
sisterhood — that is July; and then love
— that is August. But July and August
are so much alike that no one can
tell where one stops and the other

1 01. True Lovers. — Woe be to the
poverty of our language, that we have
no words to express the differences in
the realm of love, from the topmost an-
gelic nature to the poorest and basest
nature. One single word is to serve



various uses, and impotent para-
phrases are employed to eke out in-
termediate meanings. But not they
who have the gush of fancy, and still
less they that have the wild flush of
passion, are true lovers. They are
true lovers where every faculty in one
finds a corresponding faculty in the
other; where the understanding and
the moral sense of one are enriched
by the understanding and the moral
sense of the other; where the spiritual
affinities of one are strengthened by
the spiritual affinities of the other;
where the sweet and pure social affec-
tions are fed and pleased. They are
lovers whose concordant, concurrent
beings are like two parts of music,
rising, and floating, and twining, and
mingling to make one harmonious

102. Love of Man for Woman. —
The most solemn hour of human ex-
perience is not that of death, but of
Life — when the heart is born again,
and from a natural heart becomes a
heart of Love ! What wonder that it
is a silent hour and perplexed? Is the
soul confused ? Why not, when the
divine spirit, rolling clear across the
aerial ocean, breaks upon the heart's
shore with all the mystery of heaven ?
Is it strange that uncertain lights dim
the eye, if above the head of him that
truly loves hover clouds of saintly
spirits ? Why should not the tongue
stammer and refuse its accustomed
offices, when all the world — skies,
trees, plains, hills, atmosphere, and the
solid earth — spring forth in new col-
ors, with strange meanings, and seem
to chant for the soul the glory of that
mystic law with which God has bound
to himself his infinite realm — the law
of love ! Then, for the first time,
when one so loves that love is sacri-
fice, death to self, resurrection, and
glory, is man brought into harmony

with the whole universe ; and hke him
who beheld the seventh heaven, hears
things unlawful to be uttered !

103. The Higher Life in Human
Love. — In the spring it is not the root
that starts the leaf and the bud ; it is
the bud that starts the root. When
the sun, shining on the outermost
branches, excites in them renewed
excitabihty, they draw for sap, and
vessel after vessel, all the way down
to the root, awakes its neighbor. Thus
it is the top that creates activity in
the bottom, and not the bottom that
creates activity in the top. And in
love it is the higher supernal element,
which lies nearest to God, that,
awakening, sends its vivific influence
clear down to the very root of life

104. Harmony Essential in Mar-
riage. — The man and woman that are
to be married, should be put to the
test of being able to bridle their
spirits. Two persons that cannot
agree with each other, and cannot
agree with those outside of them, are
not fit to be married. They light the
torch of discord. The match is a
sulphurous match, and is stenchful
and suffocating, that lights their love.
Persons that are in such close and
intimate relations as those of the
household should be concordant.

105. Love Above Passion, — How
pitiful it is to see men build too low !
I cannot bear to see the young gather-
ing together and building their nests
as the birds do. On my lawn I see the
larks and other birds building in the
grass, and know that before their
young are fledged the remorseless
mower, with revolving strokes will
sweep the ground, and the nests will
be utterly destroyed, and the young
cut and wasted. And do I not see
men building their nests just so? Do
I not see love beginning to nestle in



the flowers ? But the flowers them-
selves are rooted in the dirt down low,
close to the foot that easily shall crush
them. No love is fit to be called by
the name of love that has not in it
something of the other world, and
much of immortality. It must rise
above an instinct or passion. It must
have in it faith and hope. It must be
a love that is served by the reason,
by the imagination, by all that there
is in the soul.

1 06. Godless Love. — My young
maiden friend, love is not a passion,
but a growth. The heart is a lamp,
with just oil enough to burn for an
hour ; if there be no oil to put in
again, it will go out. God's grace is
the oil that fills the lamp of love. If
there be one thing above all others
that every woman should say to her-
self in the beginning of her married
life, it is this : "I cannot be respected
and loved, as I must needs be to be
happy, unless I can bring something
more than myself. It must be God in
me that shall maintain me in that dig-
nity and fullness of influence and im-
pressiveness that shall win and keep
my husband's love." A godless
woman entering into the marriage
relation goes as a lamb to the slaugh-
ter ; wreaths of flowers may be around
her neck, but the knife is not far

107. Brief Attachments. — We have
a glimpse of the love of self-renuncia-
tion in the earlier stages of that which
terminates in wedded love. Every
ingenuous young man and maiden,
when they come together with a sin-
cere and honorable affection, know
some hours in which each is quite for-
getful of self. Their thought of life is
to honor each other, and to lift each
other up, and to glorify each other.
And that is the nearest to the angelic
experience that these persons ever

come. Alas ! that such love should
be like the hyacinth. It throws its
blossom up early in the spring ; and it
is quickly gone, sweet as it is. Before
ever May is half-passed the blossom is
shrunken, a few brown leaves lie with-
ering on the ground, and all the rest

Online LibraryHenry Ward BeecherA treasury of illustration → online text (page 5 of 94)