" There's many a trouble
Would break like a bubble,
And into the waters of Lethe depart,
Did not we rehearse it,
And tenderly nurse it,
And give it a permanent place in the heart.
" There's many a sorrow
Would vanish to-morrow,
Were we not unwilling to furnish the wings ;
So sadly intruding,
And quietly brooding,
It hatches out all sorts of horrible things." *
i G. Clark.
244 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
The discontented man should ask himself
with whom he would change. He cannot
expect to take one man's health, another's
wealth, and the home of a third. If he is
dissatisfied he must change all in all, or not
Coleridge when in great trouble wrote
to Sir Humphry Davy that "amid all these
changes and humiliations and fears, the sense
of the Eternal abides in me, and preserves
unsubdued my cheerful faith that all I endure
is full of blessings."
Never then despair. Everything may be
retrieved, except despair. " Woe to him that
is faint-hearted," said the son of Sirach.
" If courage is gone, then all is gone !
Twere better that thou hadst never been born." l
" To bear is to conquer our fate." 2
" Beware of desperate steps : the darkest day,
Live till to-morrow, will have passed away." 3
Every one makes mistakes. The man, it
has been well said, who never makes a mis-
take, will make nothing. But we need not
1 Goethe. 2 Campbell. 3 Cowper.
fall into the same error twice. Let your
mistakes be lessons, and so you may make
them stepping-stones to a better life.
Joseph Hume used to say that he would
rather have a cheerful disposition than an es-
tate of 10,000 a year.
For action the present is all-important, but
there is a sense in which it is wiser to live in
the past and the future. Many of the miseries
of life are due to our sacrificing the future for
the present ; the happiness of years that are
to come, for the satisfaction of the moment.
No doubt it is true that a bird in the hand is
worth two in the bush ; but then the chances
are that the bird in the bush may never be in
the cage, while the future, on the contrary, is
sure to come, and those men are most happy
whose " pleasure is in memory, and their am-
bition in heaven." *
We could hardly go far wrong if we lived in
the future ; for man " hath but to forsake the
Transitory and Perishable with which the True
Life can never associate, and thereupon the
Eternal, with all its Blessedness, will forth-
with descend and dwell with him."
246 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
Man should, I was almost about to say
above all things, be manly, and have
" The will to do, the soul to dare." J
" Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt." 2
Courage is not only a virtue, but even part
of the very essence of a man. A man to be a
man must be brave, just as a woman to be a
woman must be gentle ; though of course men
should be gentle as well as brave, and women
brave as well as gentle.
Recklessness is not courage. Courage does
not consist in despising danger, but in facing
it bravely. There is no courage in running
unnecessary risk ; but when danger comes,
cowardice adds to it : to face it boldly and
coolly is the true path of safety. To run
away from an enemy in battle is the way
to get killed, especially for those who, like
Achilles, are vulnerable only in the heel.
" To make anything very terrible," says
Burke, 3 " obscurity seems in general to be
1 Scott. 2 Shakespeare.
8 " Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful."
xv HOPE 247
necessary. When we know the full extent
of any danger, when we can accustom our
eyes to it, a great deal of the apprehension
vanishes." In the old fable, the deer frightened
by feathers fell into the hands of the hunters,
and the troops, who, on the raising of the dust
by a flock of sheep, took them for the enemy,
fell into an ambush.
Keep cool and courageous.
"Out of the nettle, danger, pluck the flower, safety,"
and, according to the Eastern proverb, " draw
the feet of contentment under the skirt of
Do not expect too much. " To know how
to expect little," said Goethe, " and enjoy
much, is the secret of success."
Do not expect too much, and do not expect
it too quickly. " Everything comes to those
who know how to wait." It has been well
said that the darkest shadows of life are those
which a man makes when he stands in his
own light. Still, do what we will, sorrows
must come, and it is for us to bear them
248 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
"Call up," said Richter, "in your darkest
moments the memory of the brightest."
" Know how sublime a thing it is
To suffer and be strong."
We have, moreover, always the consolation of
" Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day." 1
For, as George Macdonald says
" For things can never go badly wrong,
If the heart be true and the love be strong ;
For the mist, if it comes, and the weeping rain,
Will be changed by the love into sunshine again."
" After winter folio we th summer, after night,
the day returneth, and after a great tempest, a
great calm." 2 However dark our path may
seem, remember that Time will soothe the
greatest sorrows. " Heaviness may endure
for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
" Be still, sad heart, and cease repining ;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining ;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary." 3
1 Shakespeare. 2 Imitation of Christ. 3 Longfellow.
xv HOPE 249
If any change happens, which at first seems
like a misfortune, make sure at least that it
is so. Appearances are often deceptive ; we
do not live in a world in which we can afford
to be discouraged by trifles, and we never know
what we can do till we try. Trouble and sor-
row are often friends in disguise. Nelson
turned even his blind eye to advantage when
he did not wish to see the signal for retreat.
There are many, says Sir M. Grant Duff in
his charming life of Renan, " for whose lives
we should not have cared, but whose death
we envy." And in history, quite as many
owe their immortality to the scaffold as to the
throne. If we suffer, it is either for our own
fault or for the general good.
" Wise men never sit, and wail their loss,
But cheerly seek how to redress their harm." *
While, moreover, we may be thankful for
and enjoy to the full the innumerable bless-
ings of life, we must not look upon sorrows
and sufferings as unmixed evils. No one would
be the better for constant and unvaried sue-
250 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
cess.; even if it were not too great a trial, it
could not but enervate and weaken. To over-
come difficulties, to resist temptation, to bear
sorrows bravely, raises, strengthens, and
ennobles the character.
" Face to face with Eternity, the great thing
is to walk grandly towards it." l
We may thoroughly enjoy the soft air and
bright sunshine of summer, but Nature owes
much of its grandeur and beauty to the snows
and storms of winter.
Kingsley in a noble ode does justice to the
" Let the luscious South, wind
Breathe in lover's sighs,
Whilst the lazy gallants
Bask in ladies' eyes.
What does he but soften
Heart alike and pen ?
'Tis the hard gray weather
Breeds hard English men.
But the black North-easter,
Through the snow-storm hurled,
Drives our English hearts of oak
Seaward round the world.
Come : and strong within us
Stir the Viking's blood :
Bracing brain and sinew :
Blow, thou wind of God."
Troubles are a moral North-easter. They
strengthen and brace us
" Beyond the gauds and trappings of renown,
This is the hero's compliment and crown ;
This missed, one struggle had been wanting still,
One glorious triumph of heroic will." 1
" What do you think," says Epictetus, " that
Hercules would have been if there had not been
such a lion, and hydra, and stag, and boar, and
certain unjust and bestial men, whom Hercules
used to drive away and clear out ? And what
would he have been doing if there had been
nothing of the kind ? Is it not plain that he
would have wrapped himself up and slept ?
In the first place, then, he would not have
been a Hercules, when he was dreaming away
his life in such luxury and ease ; and even if
he had been one, what would have been the
use of him ? and what the use of his arms,
and of the strength of the other parts of his
1 Henry Taylor.
252 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP, xv
body? and his endurance and noble spirit, if
such circumstances and occasions had not
roused and exercised him ? "
When Socrates was condemned Apollodorus
lamented that he should suffer so unjustly.
"Would you then," said the philosopher,
" have had me guilty ? "
This, says St. Peter, is praiseworthy, " if a
man for conscience toward God endure grief,
suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if,
when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall
take it patiently ? but if, when ye do well,
and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is
acceptable with God."
WE should not only do to others as we
should wish them to do to us, but think of
others kindly as we should wish them to
think of us. If we make no allowances for
them, how can we expect them to do so for
us? Moreover, on the whole, we shall find
that a charitable construction of others is
more likely to be the right one than not.
"Some persons think to get through the
difficulties of life, as Hannibal is said to
have done across the Alps, by pouring vine-
gar on them." l
Others are ready to make sacrifices, but
they neglect those little acts of kindness and
affection which add so much to the brightness
and happiness of life.
1 Guesses at Truth.
254 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
Even if we have reason to complain, the
offence is seldom so serious as we suppose,
and to resent injuries only makes them worse.
Revenge does us more harm than the injury
itself; and no one ever intended to hurt
another, but he did at the same time a
greater harm to himself, " as the Bee shall
perish if she stings angrily." 1
The vulture, we are told, scents nothing
but carrion, and the Snapping turtle is said
to bite before it leaves the egg, and after it
Some people go through the world looking
for faults. It is far wiser, however, to admire
than to criticise, nor is carping really true
criticism. Even if there be a skeleton in the
cupboard, it is probably not the only thing
there. The bones do not make the man.
Criticism may be true, but is it the whole
truth ? It is very interesting to be behind
the scenes, but it is not the best place for
seeing the play. Try to look out for the
good and not the evil, both in people and in
life, and you will see what you look for.
1 King Alfred's trs. of Boethius.
xvi CHARITY 255
Always be patient. We know that if chil-
dren are fractious it is in nine cases out of
ten because they are suffering ; and men and
women are but grown-up children in this re-
spect, as in others. In most cases, if we knew
all the circumstances, if we knew what they
were feeling, we should be sorry for, and not
angry with, people who are cross.
If we know that any one is ill, how con-
siderate others become. Nothing is grudged.
Everything is done that can be thought of.
They are spared all possible annoyance or
irritation. But why then only ? How much
better it would be if we were always as kind
We do not know the anxious cares, the
weight of sorrow, the secret sufferings of
others. If then you think you have reason
to complain, make allowances. You need not
be afraid of making too many. Make the best
of everything and everybody.
" De inortuis nil nisi bonum is a good
maxim, but why confine it to the dead?
How is it that for one kind word, one good
deed told of others, we hear so many ill-
256 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
natured stories or unfavourable comments ?
How much better would it be if people
would speak of the living as they do of the
Do not then condemn others hastily, if at all.
" Judge not ! The workings of his brain
And of his heart thou canst not see ;
What looks to thy dim eyes a stain,
In God's pure light may only be
A scar, brought from some well-won field,
Where thou wouldst only faint and yield." 1
There may be, there certainly will be, occa-
sions on which it is necessary to express dis-
approval ; but as a rule, if it is impossible to
say anything kind and charitable, it is better
to say nothing at all. Sydney Smith is re-
ported to have sent a message to an ac-
quaintance who had been abusing him in his
absence, that he was welcome to kick him
also wheri he was not there. Most of us,
however, would rather be found fault with,
if at all, to our faces, and are especially sen-
sitive to what is said of us when we are not
there to defend ourselves. People may laugh
i A. A. Procter.
and seem amused at having ill-natured things
said about others, but depend upon it they will
draw the natural inference that their turn will
come next, and will like you none the better,
however they may laugh with you at the
" Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler, sister woman,
Though they may gang a kennin' wrang,
To step aside is human.
Then at the balance let's be mute,
We never can adjust it ;
What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted." l
I must also put in a word also for animals.
Seneca truly observes that " what with hooks,
snares, nets, dogs (and we must now add
guns) we are at war with all living creatures."
It is apparently a necessity of our existence
that we should live to some extent at the ex-
pense of other animals. Since then we owe
them so much, we ought all the more to
avoid inflicting on them any unnecessary suf-
258 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
" Never to blend our pleasure or our pride,
With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels." l
And so " if thy heart be right, then will
every creature be to thee a mirror of life, and
a book of holy doctrine." 2
We do not now, most of us, believe that
animals have souls, and yet probably the
majority of manhood from Buddha to Wes-
ley and Kingsley have done so.
Birds indeed have something especially
ethereal. St. Francis, " perfectly sure that
he himself was a spiritual being, thought it
at least possible that birds might be spiritual
beings likewise, incarnate like himself in
mortal flesh ; and saw no degradation to the
dignity of human nature in claiming kindred
lovingly, with creatures so beautiful, so won-
derful, who (as he fancied in his old-fashioned
way) praised God in the forest, even as angels
did in heaven." 3
But however this may be, assuredly ani-
mals should be treated with kindness and
consideration ; it is a crime to inflict on them
any unnecessary suffering.
1 Wordsworth. 2 Thomas h Kempis. 3 Kingsley.
xvi CHARITY 259
" That best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unreinembered acts
Of kindness and of love."
" He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
" He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things, both great and small.
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all." l
Among all his splendid passages, there is
none more magnificent than that in which
Shakespeare tells us that
" The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath : it is twice bless'd ;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes :
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest : it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown ;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings ;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway ;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself ;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice." 2
1 Coleridge. - Shakespeare.
260 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
Charity is too often taken as synonymous
with the giving of alms, and no doubt it is
true, as in the celebrated Greek lines, that
" Strangers and poor men are all sent from Zeus,
And alms, however small, are sweet."
But yet alms-giving is only one form of
charity ; by no means the chief, and one
which, unless judiciously exercised, may do,
and often does, more harm than good.
Much more important is the feeling of
sympathy and affection.
" Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the faults I see ;
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me." 1
Forget injuries, but never forget a kindness.
" How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child." 2
" How many there are who are unworthy
of the light of day, and yet the sun rises." 3
Those who do not forgive others cannot
expect to be forgiven themselves.
1 Pope. 2 Shakespeare. 3 Seneca.
xvi CHARITY 261
" Suppose yourselves under the apprehen-
sion of approaching death ; that you were
just going to appear, naked and without dis-
guise, before the Judge of all the earth, to
give an account of your behaviour towards
your fellow-creatures : could anything raise
more dreadful apprehensions of that judg-
ment than the reflection that you had been
implacable, and without mercy towards those
who had offended you : without that forgiv-
ing spirit towards others, which, that it may
now be exerted towards yourself, is your
only hope ? And these natural apprehen-
sions are authorised by our Saviour's applica-
tion of the parable : " So likewise shall My
heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from
your heart forgive not every one his brother
their trespasses." l
The divine precept to forgive injuries and
love our enemies, though not altogether ab-
sent from other systems of morality, is yet
especially Christian. The Bible urges it over
and over again. " For if ye forgive men their
trespasses, your heavenly Father will also for-
1 Dr. Butler.
262 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
give you : but if ye forgive not men their tres-
passes, neither will your Father forgive your
Nay ! forgiveness is not enough. We must
" I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless
them that curse you, do good to them that
hate you, and pray for them which despite-
fully use you and persecute you; that ye
may be the children of your Father which
is in heaven : for he maketh his sun to rise
on the evil and upon the good, and sendeth
rain on the just and on the unjust." 2
"Charity," says St. Paul,
" Charity suffereth long, and is kind ;
Charity envieth not ;
Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly,
Seeketh not her own,
Is not easily provoked,
Thinketh no evil ;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth ;
Beareth all things, believeth all things,
Hopeth all things, endureth all things.
" Charity never faileth : but whether there
1 Dr. Butler. 2 St. Matthew.
xvi CHARITY 263
be prophecies, they shall fail ; whether there
be tongues, they shall cease ; whether there be
knowledge, it shall vanish away. . . . Now
abideth faith, hope, charity, these three ; but
the greatest of these is charity."
As a mere question of getting on in the
world character and steadiness will do more
for a man than cleverness. I would not
of course base the importance of character
mainly on any such consideration, still it is
none the less true. It is more important to
do right than to know it, and whether we
wish to be good, or to be prosperous and
happy, we should follow exactly the same
course. Golden deeds make golden days.
The worth of a life is to be measured by
its moral value. " Once make up your mind
never to stand waiting and hesitating when
your conscience tells you what you ought to
do, and you have got the key to every bless-
ing that a sinner can reasonably hope for." l
CHAP, xvii CHARACTER 265
You will never in the long run increase
your happiness by neglecting or evading a
duty. It is as characteristic of the wise man
as of the good one, that
"He holds no parley with unmanly fears ;
Where duty bids, he confidently steers ;
Faces a thousand dangers at her call,
And, trusting in his God, surmounts them all." 1
What is necessary for true success in life ?
But " one thing is needful. Money is not
needful ; power is not needful ; cleverness is
not needful ; fame is not needful ; liberty is
not needful ; even health is not the one thing
needful; but character alone a thoroughly
cultivated will is that which can truly save
us ; and, if we are not saved in this sense, we
must certainly be damned." 2
Your character will be what you yourself
choose to make it. We cannot all be poets
or musicians, great artists or men of science,
and " there are many other things of which
thou canst not say, I am not formed for them
by nature. Show those qualities then, which
are altogether in thy power ; sincerity, grav-
1 Wordsworth. - Blackie.
THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
ity, endurance of labour, aversion to luxury,
benevolence, frankness, no love of superfluity,
freedom from trifling, magnanimity. Dost
thou not see how many qualities thou art
immediately able to exhibit, in which there
is no excuse of natural incapacity and unfit-
ness, and yet thou still remainest volunta-
rily below the mark ? or art thou compelled,
through being defectively furnished by nat-
ure, to murmur, and be mean, and to flatter,
and to find fault with thy poor body and to
try to please men, and to make great display,
and to be restless in thy mind ? No, by the
Gods : but thou mightest have been delivered
from these things long ago. Only, if in truth
thou canst be charged with being rather slow
and dull of comprehension, thou must exert
thyself about this also, not neglecting it, nor
yet taking pleasure in thy dulness."
Never do anything of which you will have
cause to be ashamed. There is one good
opinion which is of the greatest importance
to you, namely, your own. " An easy con-
science," says Seneca, " is a continual feast."
1 Marcus Aurelius.
xvn CHARACTER 267
Franklin, to whom we are indebted for
much, good advice, adopted a plan which I
cannot recommend. After a clear and con-
cise summary of the virtues, he says, " My
intention being to acquire the habitude of all
these, I judged it would be well not to dis-
tract my attention by attempting the whole at
once, but to fix it on one of them at a time ;
and when I should be master of that, then to
proceed to another, and so on, till I should
have gone through the thirteen " (Temper-
ance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality,
Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation,
Cleanliness, Tranquillity, Chastity, and Hu-
mility). It seems difficult to imagine that
he can really have acted on this theory; for
" if you take home one of Satan's relations,
the whole family will follow."
How astonished we should be, said Bishop
Wilson, " to hear one, upon giving monies to
a poor body, bid him go to the ale-house and
spend it, go and venture it in gaming, go
and buy yourself some foolish toy ! Why
then should you do that yourself, which you
own you should be laughed at to bid another
THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
Look up and not down. " The man," said
Lord Beaconsfield, " who does not look up,
will look down, and the spirit which does not
dare to soar, is destined perhaps to grovel."
" Oh, who shall lightly say that fame
Is nothing but an empty name !
Whilst in that sound there is a charm
The nerve to brace, the heart to warm,
As, thinking of the mighty dead,
The young from youthful couch will start,
And vow, with lifted hands outspread,
Like them to act a noble part." l
No doubt having regard to the realities
of existence, the ordinary forms of ambition
seem quite beneath our notice, and indeed
our greatest men, Shakespeare and Milton,
Newton and Darwin, have owed nothing to
the honours or titles which Governments can
give. One great drawback of ordinary am-
bition is that it can never be satisfied. As in
the ascent of a mountain, when we reach one
summit we find another before us. The
greatest conquerors, Alexander and Napo-
leon for instance, were never contented. Vic-
1 Joanna Baillie.
xvii CHARACTER 269
tims of misplaced ambition, they could not
" rest and be thankful." " He that is used
to go forward/' says Bacon, and " findeth a
stop, falleth out of his own favour, and is not
the thing he was."