« PoprzedniaDalej »
strong, such as the presence of those they fear, or to whom they particularly desire to recommend themselves. It is, therefore, no excuse to persons, whom you have injured by unkind reproaches and unjust aspersions, to tell them you were in a passion. The allowing yourself to speak to them in a passion, is a proof of an insolent disrespect, which the meanest of your fellow-creatures would have a right to resent.
When once you find yourself heated so far, as to desire to say what you know would be provoking and wounding to another, you should immediately resolve either to be silent, or to quit the room, rather than give utterance to any thing dictated by so bad an inclination. Be assured, you are then unfit to reason or to reprove, or to hear reason from others. It is, therefore, your part to retire from such an occasion to sin; and wait till you are cool, before you presume to judge of what has passed.
By accustoming yourself thus to conquer and disappoint your anger, you will, by degrees, find it grow weak and manageable, so as to leave your reason at liberty. You will be able to restrain your tongue from evil, and your looks and gestures from all expressions of violence and ill-will. Pride, which produces so many evils in the human mind, is the great source of passion. Whoever cultivates in himself a proper humility, a due sense of his own faults and insufficiences, and a due respect for others, will find but small temptation to violent or unreasonable anger.
In the case of real injuries, which justify and call for resentment, there is a noble and generous kind of anger, a proper and necessary part of our nature, which has nothing in it sinful or degrading. I would not wish you insensible to this; for the person, who feels not an injury, must be incapable of being properly affected by benefits. With those who treat you ill, without provocation, you ought to maintain your own dignity.
But, in order to do this, while you show a sense of their improper behavior, you must preserve calmness, and even good-breeding; and thereby convince them of the impotence, as well as injustice, of their malice. You must also weigh every circumstance with candor and charity, and consider whether your showing the resentment deserved, may not produce ill consequences to innocent persons; and whether
it may not occasion the breach of some duty, or necessary connection, to which you ought to sacrifice even your just
Above all things, take care that a particular offense to you does not make you unjust to the general character of the offending person. Generous anger does not preclude esteem for whatever is really estimable, nor does it destroy good-will to the person of its object; it even inspires the desire of overcoming him by benefits, and wishes to inflict no other punishment, than the regret of having injured one who deserved his kindness; it is always placable, and ready to be reconciled, as soon as the offender is convinced of his error; nor can any subsequent injury provoke it to recur to past disobligations, which had been once forgiven.
The consciousness of injured innocence naturally produces dignity, and usually prevents excess of anger. Our passion is most unruly, when we are conscious of blame, and when we apprehend that we have laid ourselves open to contempt. Where we know we have been wrong, the least injustice in the degree of blame imputed to us, excites our bitterest resentment; but, where we know ourselves faultless, the sharpest accusation excites pity or contempt, rather than rage.
THE DAUGHTER AT HER MOTHER'S GRAVE.
It was thirteen years since my mother's death, when, after a long absence from my native village, I stood beside the sacred mound, beneath which I had seen her buried. Since that mournful period, a great change had come over me. My childish years had passed away, and with them my youthful character. The world was altered too; and, as I stood at my mother's grave, I could hardly realize that I was the same thoughtless, happy creature, whose cheeks she so often kissed in an excess of tenderness. But the varied events of thirteen years had not effaced the remembrance of that mother's smile. It seemed as if I had seen her but yesterday; as if the blessed sound of her well-remembered voice was in my ear.
dreams of my infancy and childhood were brought back so distinctly to my mind, that, had it not been for one bitter recollection, the tears I shed would have been gentle and refreshing. The circumstance may seem a trifling one; but the thought of it now pains my heart, and I relate it, that those children who have parents to love them, may learn to value them as they ought.
My mother had been ill a long time, and I had become so accustomed to her pale face and weak voice, that I was not frightened at them as children usually are. At first, it is true, I sobbed violently; but when, day after day, I returned from school, and found her the same, I began to believe she would always be spared to me; but they told me she would die.
One day when I had lost my place in the class, and done my work wrong side outward, I came home discouraged and fretful. I went to my mother's chamber. She was paler than usual, but she met me with the same affectionate smile that always welcomed my return. Alas! when I look back, through the lapse of thirteen years, think my heart must have been stone, not to have been melted. She requested me to go down stairs, and bring her a glass of water; I pettishly asked why she did not call a domestic to do it. With a look of mild reproach, which I shall never forget if I live to be a hundred years old, she said, "and will not my daughter bring a glass of water for her poor sick mother?".
I went and brought her the water, but I did not do it kindly. Instead of smiling and kissing her, as I was wont to do, I set... the glass down very quickly, and left the room. After playing a short time, I went to bed, without bidding my mother good night; but when alone in my room, in darkness and silence, I remembered how pale she looked, and how her voice trembled when she said, "Will not my daughter bring a glass of water for her poor sick mother?" I could not sleep. I stole into her chamber to ask forgiveness. She had sunk into an easy slumber, and they told me I must not waken her. I did not tell any one what troubled me, but stole back to my bed, resolved to rise early in the morning, and tell her how sorry I was for my conduct.
The sun was shining brightly when I awoke, and hurrying on my clothes, I hastened to my mother's chamber. She was
dead! she never spoke more; never smiled upon me again; and when I touched the hand that used to rest upon my head in blessing, it was so cold that it made me start. I bowed down by her side, and sobbed in the bitterness of my heart. I thought then I wished I might die, and be buried with her; and, old as I now am, I would give worlds, were they mine to give, could my mother but have lived to tell me that she forgave my childish ingratitude. But I cannot call her back; and when I stand by her grave, and whenever I think of her manifold kindness, the memory of that reproachful look she gave me, will bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder.
TO MY MOTHER.
GIVE me my old seat, mother,
With my head upon thy knee:
I've passed through many a changing scene,
O! let me look into thine eyes;
I've not been long away, mother;
"Tis but a little time, I know,
But very long it seems;
The world has kindly dealt, mother,
Which made that path so dearly bright;
I bear a happy heart, mother;
And, even now, new buds of hope
Oh! mother! life may be a dream;
I bear a happy heart, mother!
And hear soft tones and winning words,
And then, the tears my spirit weeps
Unbidden fill my eye;
And, like a houseless dove, I long
Then I am very sad, mother,
O there's no heart whose inmost fold
Though sunny smiles wreathe blooming lips,