S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
How many opportunities have we of giving delight to those who live in our domestic circle, which would be lost before we could diffuse it to those who are distant from us! Our love, therefore, our desire of giving happiness, our pleasure in having given it, are stronger within the limits of this sphere of daily and hourly intercourse than beyond it. Of those who are beyond this sphere, the individuals most familiar to us are those whose happiness we must always know better how to promote than the happiness of strangers, with whose particular habits and inclinations we are little if at all acquainted.
Dr. Brown: Lects. on the Philos. of the Human Mind.
If ever household affections and love are graceful things, they are graceful in the poor. The ties that bind the wealthy and the proud at home may be forged on earth, but those which link the poor man to his humble hearth are of the true metal and bear the stamp of heaven. The man of high descent may love the halls and lands of his inheritance as a part of himself, as trophies of his birth and power; the poor mans attachment to the tenement he holds, which strangers have held before, and may to-morrow occupy again, has a worthier root, struck deep into a purer soil. His household gods are of flesh and blood, with no alloy of silver, gold, or precious stones; he has no property but in the affections of his own heart; and when they endear bare floors and walls, despite of toil and scanty meals, that man has his love of home from God, and his rude hut becomes a solemn place.
Are you not surprised to find how independent of money peace of conscience is, and how much happiness can be condensed in the humblest home? A cottage will not hold the bulky furniture and sumptuous accommodations of a mansion; but if God be there, a cottage will hold as much happiness as might stock a palace.
Resolveand tell your wife of your good resolution. She will aid it all she can. Her step will be lighter and her hand will be busier all day, expecting the comfortable evening at home when you return. Household affairs will have been well attended to. A place for everything, and everything in its place, will, like some good genius, have made even an humble home the scene of neatness, arrangement, and taste. The table will be ready at the fireside. The loaf will be one of that order which says, by its appearance, You may come and cut again. The cups and saucers will be waiting for supplies. The kettle will be singing; and the children, happy with fresh air and exercise, will be smiling in their glad anticipation of that evening meal when father is at home, and of the pleasant reading afterwards.
It was the policy of the good old gentleman to make his children feel that home was the happiest place in the world; and I value this delicious home-feeling as one of the choicest gifts a parent can bestow.
The road to home happiness lies over small stepping-stones. Slight circumstances are the stumbling-blocks of families. The prick of a pin, says the proverb, is enough to make an empire insipid. The tenderer the feelings, the painfuller the wound. A cold, unkind word checks and withers the blossom of the dearest love, as the most delicate rings of the vine are troubled by the faintest breeze. The misery of a life is born of a chance observation. If the true history of quarrels, public and private, were honestly written, it would be silenced with an uproar of derision.
It is, indeed, at home that every man must be known by those who would make a just estimate either of his virtue or felicity: for smiles and embroidery are alike occasional, and the mind is often dressed for show, in painted honour and fictitious benevolence.
The most authentic witnesses of any mans character are those who know him in his own family, and see him without any restraint or rule of conduct but such as he voluntarily prescribes to himself. If a man carries virtue with him into his private apartments, and takes no advantage of unlimited power or probable secrecy; if we trace him through the round of his time, and find that his character, with those allowances which mortal frailty must always want, is uniform and regular, we have all the evidence of his sincerity, that one man can have with regard to another; and, indeed, as hypocrisy cannot be its own reward, we may, without hesitation, determine that his heart is pure.