Page images
PDF
EPUB

Yes; keep me calm, though loud and rude

The sounds my ear that greet; Calm in the closet's solitude,

Calm in the bustling street;

Calm in the hour of buoyant health,

Calm in my hour of pain ; Calm in my poverty or wealth,

Calm in my loss or gain;

Calm in the sufferance of

wrong, Like Him who bore my shame; Calm mid the threat'ning, taunting throng,

Who hate Thy holy Name.

Calm as the ray of sun or star,

Which storms assail in vain, Moving unruffled through earth's war,

Th' eternal calm to gain !

(By permission of the Author.)

THE LIGHT OF STARS.

W. H. LONGFELLOW.

The night is come, but not too soon;

And sinking silently,
All silently, the little moon

Drops down behind the sky.

There is no light in earth or heaven,

But the cold light of stars ;
And the first watch of night is given

To the red planet Mars :

Is it the tender star of love ?

The star of love and dreams?
Oh no! from that blue tent above,

A hero's armour gleams.

And earnest thoughts within me rise,

When I behold afar, Suspended in the evening skies,

The shield of that red star.

O star of strength! I see thee stand

And smile upon my pain; Thou beckonest with thy mail'd hand,

And I am strong again.

Within my breast there is no light,

But the cold light of stars ;
I give the first watch of the night

To the red planet Mars.

The star of the unconquer'd will,

He rises in my breast, Serene, and resolute, and still,

And calm, and self-possess'd.

And thou, too, whosoe'er thou art,

That readest this brief psalm, As one by one thy hopes depart,

Be resolute and calm.

Oh, fear not, in a world like this,

And thou shalt know, ere long, Know how sublime a thing it is

To suffer, and be strong.

72

TEMPER.

J. Hain FRISWELL, Author of the “Gentle Life.”

It is a mistake to suppose that its exhibition is a proof of strength of character. A man of the gentlest disposition in the world may be also of the strongest. A giant does not prove his strength by constantly hitting out, nor does a huge horse, which can pull any weight, prove its value by continually kicking and curveting. To suppose that a morose fellow is a man of strong character, is to follow the error of Lord Byron, who has taught that the exhibition of passion proves strength; whereas it is the continual repression of all passion that proves it. A good rider holds in his horse, checks him, and guides him; a bad rider lets him have his own way. The heathen knew better than we do about this. The example of Alexander, who, in his rage, killed his friend, and who cried for a larger share of conquest, was to them a common theme for boys to practise on, to laugh at, and avoid; but we ought to be wiser than they. Many centuries of the most cheerful religion that the world has ever known, many biddings to do our duty, to cast away fear, to rejoice always, and sing and make melody in our hearts, should have made us understand the value of goodhumour and the folly of bad temper.

“ Too many,” said John Angel James, “have no idea of the subjection of their temper to the influence of religion, and yet what is changed if the temper be not? If a man be as passionate, malicious, sullen, resentful, moody, or morose after his conversion as before it, what is he converted from or to ?” What indeed ? Certainly a good deal of bad temper may be the result of disease; but if so, let us treat it as disease. We should remember, too, that we may stroke and pet, and feed, and foster a malignant temper till it assumes gigantic proportions, and a sensitive tenderness which is wonderful.

“Some fretful tempers wince at every touch,
You always do too little or too much ;
He shakes with cold; you stir the fire and strive
To make a blaze ; that's a roasting him alive.
Serve him with venison, and he chooses fish;
With sole, that's just the sort he would not wish,
E'en his own efforts double his distress,
He likes yours little, and his own still less.
Thus, always teasing others, always teased,

His only pleasure is to be displeased." The first thing to be considered is its origin. Temper we may suppose to be the effect of habitual indulgence in a mild kind of anger; and, as we all know, anger is of the deadly sins. A man who indulges in it, or a woman either, is no more a good or a virtuous being than a common drunkard or glutton. One takes a pleasure in eating or drinking, another in keeping up a sore place, and irritating himself, and wounding others. If accompanied, as it may often be, and is, with a moderately good heart and conscience, the sufferings and reproaches of the person with a temper are dreadful. No amount of apology, no self-reproaches, will, however, make up for an insulting word, or a vulgar rude action, and men and women with tempers often are victims their whole lives through to these little words. If they are very selfish, after a time they look upon themselves as victims; they excuse their frantic folly merely as a foible. Mr. Leech, in Punch, has satirized this pretty smartly. A young married couple have had a tiff; the drawing-room is thoroughly upset, and looks like the saloon of the Great Eastern after the storm; tables are overset, chairs and looking-glasses broken—the whole place is a wreck. But the storm is over; the wife sits in indignant tears, and the husband is repentant. “Forgive me, Maria,” he gasps ; “I confess that I am a little warm." The figure he cuts is contemptible enough, and, of course, the caricature is a caricature; it is exaggerated; but, in every-day life,

C

men will make fools of themselves for the merest trifle; a button off a shirt, a bed ill-made, a dinner not very well cooked, a guest not arrived, a plate broken-upon these trifles, for which, perhaps, no one is strictly to blame, how many pleasant days and hours are lost, how many words spoken which are never forgiven, how many an angry, sullen look and secret stab are given, and how many a wound is dealt which rankles for years afterwards! The good-natured man is free from this; he may be a fool, but he escapes such condign and severe punishment. He, too, is a hero in his quiet way; and a woman who preserves her temper is a heroine. Pope's great ideal was one who could keep her temper-who was

Mistress of herself, though China fall.” And the self possession such a woman must possess will be indeed its own great reward, and a rare gift.

Temper is also a most hurtful iudulgence. Hippocrates tells that the most dangerous of maladies are they which disfigure the countenance; and this temper always does. It is often indulged in at dinner-time, and then or at any other meal checks the digestion. A man with a temper can no more enjoy his life than he can his dinner. He may get the best place, but he does not make the best meal. To a good-natured man, life, and dinner, and tea, and supper, even an ugly wife and troublesome children, sharp fortune, checks and troubles, are all coloured over with a gorgeous colour, a prime glory, which results from an humble and a grateful heart. It is from these enthusiastic fellows that you hear what they fully believe, bless them!—that all countries are beautiful, all dinners grand, all pictures superb, all mountains high, all women beautiful. When such a one has come back from his country trip, after a hard year's work, he has always found the cosiest of nooks, the cheapest houses, the best of landladies, the finest views, and the best of dinners. But with the other the case is indeed altered. He has always been

« EelmineJätka »