Good and friendly conduct may meet with an unworthy, with an ungrateful return; but the absence of gratitude on the part of the receiver cannot destroy the self-approbation which recompenses the giver: and we may scatter the seeds of courtesy and kindness around us at so little expense! Some of them will inevitably fall on good ground, and grow up into benevolence in the minds of others; and all of them will bear fruit of happiness in the bosom whence they spring. Once blest are all the virtues; twice blest sometimes.
The great duty of life is not to give pain; and the most acute reasoner cannot find an excuse for one who voluntarily wounds the heart of a fellow-creature. Even for their own sakes, people should show kindness and regard to their dependants. They are often better served in trifles, in proportion as they are rather feared than loved: but how small is this gain compared with the loss sustained in all the weightier affairs of life! Then the faithful servant shows himself at once as a friend, while one who serves from fear shows himself an enemy.
The language of reason, unaccompanied by kindness, will often fail of making an impression; it has no effect on the understanding, because it touches not the heart. The language of kindness, unassociated with reason, will frequently be unable to persuade; because, though it may gain upon the affections, it wants that which is necessary to convince the judgment. But let reason and kindness be united in a discourse, and seldom will even pride or prejudice find it easy to resist.
There will come a time when three words uttered with charity and meekness shall receive a far more blessed reward than three thousand volumes written with disdainful sharpness of wit. But the manner of mens writing must not alienate our heart from the truth, if it appear they have the truth.
But, my dear young perusers, exactly such is the state of your relations with every individual member of the united society of fogeys, governors, maiden aunts, old nurses, worn-out workmen, and the rest of them. Their berths are taken, entered, and ticketed (although the date and number is left blank to human eyes) on board a ship bound for a long voyage, whence there is no return. Will you embitter the unavoidable starting on that journey by any previous unpleasantness which you can possibly avoid?by offensive neglect, by insulting contempt, by perverse resistance, or by open rebellion? I am certain you will not. To the hand that fed you when you could not feed yourself, to the head that thought for you when you had no thought of your own, to the heart that loved you when you were incapable of loving in return, you will procure all possible pleasure and satisfaction, before the bell sounds to give warning that the vessel has her steam up, and will immediately leave the shores trodden by living men.
In the intercourse of social life it is by little acts of watchful kindness recurring daily and hourly,and opportunities of doing kindnesses if sought for are forever starting up,it is by words, by tones, by gestures, by looks, that affection is won and preserved. He who neglects these trifles, yet boasts that, whenever a great sacrifice is called for, he shall be ready to make it, will rarely be loved. The likelihood is, he will not make it; and if he does, it will be much rather for his own sake than for his neighbours. Many persons, indeed, are said to be penny-wise and pound-foolish; but they who are penny-foolish will hardly be pound-wise; although selfish vanity may now and then for a moment get the better of selfish indolence:for wisdom will always have a microscope in her hand.