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"To watch the corn grow, or the blossoms set; to draw hard breath over ploughshare or spade; to read, to think, to love, to pray,” these, says Ruskin, "are the things that make men happy."
“I have fallen into the hands of thieves,” says Jeremy Taylor;“ what then? They have left me the sun and moon, fire and water, a loving wife and many friends to pity me, and some to relieve me, and I can still discourse ; and, unless I list, they have not taken away my merry countenance and my cheerful spirit and a good conscience. And he that hath so many causes of joy, and so great, is very much in love with sorrow and peevishness who loses all these pleasures, and chooses to sit down on his little handful of thorns."
“When a man has such things to think on, and sees the sun, the moon, and stars, and enjoys earth and sea, he is not solitary or even helpless.” 1
“Paradise indeed might," as Luther said, apply to the whole world.” What more is there wecould ask for ourselves? “Every sort of beauty," says Mr. Greg," " has been lavished on our allotted home; beauties to enrapture every sense, beauties to satisfy every taste; forms the noblest and the loveliest, colours the most gorgeous and the most delicate, odours the sweetest and subtlest, harmonies the most soothing and the most stirring : the sunny glories of the day; the pale Elysian grace of moonlight; the lake, the mountain, the primeval forest, and the boundless ocean ; silent pinnacles of aged snow' in one hemisphere, the marvels of tropical luxuriance in another; the serenity of sunsets ; the sublimity of storms; everything is bestowed in boundless profusion on the scene of our existence; we can conceive or desire nothing more exquisite or perfect than what is round us every hour; and our
1 The Enigmas of Life.
perceptions are so framed as to be consciously alive to all. The provision made for our sensuous enjoyment is in overflowing abundance; so is that for the other elements of our complex nature. Who that has revelled in the opening ecstasies of a young Imagination, or the rich marvels of the world of Thought, does not confess that the Intelligence has been dowered at least with as profuse a beneficence as the Senses? Who that has truly tasted and fathomed human Love in its dawning and crowning joys has not thanked God for a felicity which indeed passeth understanding.' If we had set our fancy to picture a Creator occupied solely in devising delight for children whom he loved, we could not conceive one single element of bliss which is not here.”
THE HAPPINESS OF DUTY
“I am always content with that which happens ; for ] think that what God chooses is better than what I choose."
"O God, All conquering ! this lower earth
If they were strong in Thee
Consolations of Philosophy.
WE ought not to picture Duty to ourselves, or to others, as a stern taskmistress. She is rather a kind and sympathetic mother, ever ready to shelter us from the cares and anxieties of this world, and to guide us in the paths of peace.
1 The substance of this was delivered at the Harris Institute, Preston.
To shut oneself up from mankind is, in most cases, to lead a dull, as well as a selfish life. Our duty is to make ourselves useful, and thus life may be most interesting, and yet comparatively free from anxiety.
But how can we fill our lives with life, energy, and interest, and yet keep care outside ?
Many great men have made shipwreck in the attempt. Anthony sought for happiness in love ; Brutus in glory; Cæsar in dominion: the first found disgrace, the second disgust, the last ingratitude, and each destruction.” 1
Riches, again, often bring danger, trouble, and temptation ; they require care to keep, though they may give much happiness if wisely spent.
How then is this great object to be secured ? What, says Marcus Aurelius,
i Colton, Lacon, or Many Things in Few Words