S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Before an affliction is digested, consolation ever comes too soon; and after it is digested, it comes too late; but there is a mark between these two, as fine almost as a hair, for a comforter to take aim at.
There are thousands so extravagant in their ideas of contentment as to imagine that it must consist in having everything in this world turn out the way they wishthat they are to sit down in happiness, and feel themselves so at ease on all points as to desire nothing better and nothing more. I own there are instances of some who seem to pass through the world as if all their paths had been strewed with rosebuds of delight; but a little experience will convince us tis a fatal expectation to go upon. We are born to trouble; and we may depend upon it whilst we live in this world we shall have it, though with intermissions;that is, in whatever state we are, we shall find a mixture of good and evil; and therefore the true way to contentment is to know how to receive these certain vicissitudes of life,the returns of good and evil, so as neither to be exalted by the one nor overthrown by the other, but to bear ourselves towards everything which happens with such ease and indifference of mind, as to hazard as little as may be. This is the true temperate climate fitted for us by nature, and in which every wise man would wish to live.
There is scarce any lot so low but there is something in it to satisfy the man whom it has befallen; Providence having so ordered things that in every mans cup, how bitter soever, there are some cordial dropssome good circumstances, which, if wisely extracted, are sufficient for the purpose he wants themthat is, to make him contented, and, if not happy, at least resigned.
There is no small degree of malicious craft in fixing upon a season to give a mark of enmity and ill will; a word, a look, which at one time would make no impression, at another time wounds the heart, and, like a shaft flying with the wind, pierces deep, which, with its own natural force, would scarce have reached the object aimed at.
The brave only know how to forgive: it is the most refined and generous pitch of virtue human nature can arrive at. Cowards have done good and kind actions; cowards have even fought, nay, sometimes conquered; but a coward never forgaveit is not in his nature; the power of doing it flows only from a strength and greatness of soul conscious of its own force and security, and above all the little temptations of resenting every fruitless attempt to interrupt its happiness.
There is no small degree of malicious craft in fixing upon a season to give a mark of enmity and ill will: a word, a look, which at one time would make no impression, at another time wounds the heart; and, like a shaft flying with the winds, pierces deep, which, with its own natural force, would scarcely have reached the object aimed at.
The mind should be accustomed to make wise reflections, and draw curious conclusions, as it goes along; the habitude of which made Pliny the younger affirm that he never read a book so bad but he drew some profit from it.
If thou art rich, then show the greatness of thy fortune, or, what is better, the greatness of thy soul, in the meekness of thy conversation; condescend to men of low estate, support the distressed, and patronize the neglected. Be great; but let it be in considering riches as they are, as talents committed to an earthen vessel; that thou art but the receiver, and that to be obliged and to be vain too, is but the old solecism of pride and beggary, which, though they often meet, yet ever make but an absurd society.
So fruitful is slander in variety of expedients to satiate as well as disguise itself. But if these smoother weapons cut so sore, what shall we say of open and unblushing scandal, subjected to no caution, tied down to no restraints? If the one, like an arrow shot in the dark, does nevertheless so much secret mischief, this, like the pestilence which rages at noonday, sweeps all before it, levelling without distinction the good and the bad: a thousand fall beside it, and ten thousand at its right hand: they fall, so rent and torn in this tender part of them, so unmercifully butchered, as sometimes never to recover either the wounds or the anguish of heart which they have occasioned.