That charity alone endures which flows from a sense of duty and a hope in God. This is the charity that treads in secret those paths of misery from which all but the lowest of human wretches have fled: this is that charity which no labour can weary, no ingratitude detach, no horror disgust; that toils, that pardons, that suffers; that is seen by no man, and honoured by no man, but, like the great laws of nature, does the work of God in silence, and looks to a future and better world for its reward.
A great deal of talent is lost in the world for the want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves a number of obscure men who have only remained in obscurity because their timidity has prevented them from making a first effort; and who, if they could have been induced to begin, would in all probability have gone great lengths in the career of fame. The fact is, that to do anything in this world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can. It will not do to be perpetually calculating risks and adjusting nice chances; it did very well before the Flood, when a man could consult his friends upon an intended publication for a hundred and fifty years, and then live to see his success afterwards; but at present a man waits, and doubts, and consults his brother and his particular friends, till one fine day he finds that he is sixty years of age; that he has lost so much time in consulting his first-cousins and particular friends, that he has no more time to follow their advice.
It is no more possible for an idle man to keep together a certain stock of knowledge, than it is possible to keep together a stock of ice exposed to the meridian sun. Every day destroys a fact, a relation, or an influence; and the only way of preserving the bulk and value of the pile is by constantly adding to it.
We talk of human life as a journey; but how variously is that journey performed! There are those who come forth girt, and shod, and mantled, to walk on velvet lawns and smooth terraces, where every gale is arrested and every beam is tempered. There are others who walk on the Alpine paths of life, against driving misery, and through stormy sorrows, over sharp afflictions; walk with bare feet and naked breast, jaded, mangled, and chilled.
Manners are the shadows of virtues; the momentary display of those qualities which our fellow-creatures love and respect. If we strive to become then what we strive to appear, manners may often be rendered useful guides to the performance of our duties.
Never give way to melancholy; resist it steadily, for the habit will encroach. I once gave a lady two-and-twenty receipts against melancholy: one was a bright fire; another, to remember all the pleasant things said to her; another, to keep a box of sugar-plums on the chimney-piece and a kettle simmering on the hob. I thought this mere trifling at the moment, but have in after-life discovered how true it is that these little pleasures often banish melancholy better than higher and more exalted objects; and that no means ought to be thought too trifling which can oppose it either in ourselves or in others.
No enjoyment, however inconsiderable, is confined to the present moment. A man is the happier for life from having made once an agreeable tour, or lived for any length of time with pleasant people, or enjoyed any considerable interval of innocent pleasure.
Till subdued by age and illness, his [Sir James Mackintoshs] conversation was more brilliant and instructive than that of any human being I ever had the good fortune to be acquainted with. His memory (vast and prodigious as it was) he so managed as to make it a source of pleasure and instruction, rather than that dreadful engine of colloquial oppression into which it is sometimes erected. He remembered things, words, thoughts, dates, and everything that was wanted. His language was beautiful, and might have gone from the fireside to the press.
Rev. Sydney Smith: Mackintoshs Life, and Smiths Works.