« PredošláPokračovať »
opportunity,” adding, however, “ being quite happy with what is within our reach if we have not.”
We read of and admire the heroes of old, but every one of us has to fight his own Marathon and Thermopylæ; every one meets the Sphinx sitting by the road he has to pass; to each of us, as to Hercules, is offered the choice of Vice or Virtue; we may, like Paris, give the apple of life to Venus, or Juno, or Minerva.
There are many who seem to think that we have fallen on an age in the world when life is especially difficult and anxious, when there is less leisure than of yore, and the struggle for existence is keener than ever.
On the other hand, we must remember how much we have gained in security ? It may be an age of hard work, but when this is not carried to an extreme, it is by no means an evil. If we have less leisure, one reason is because life is so full of interest. Cheerfulness is the daughter of employment, and on the whole I believe there never was a time when modest merit and patient industry were more sure of reward.
We must not, indeed, be discouraged if success be slow in coming, nor puffed up if it comes quickly. We often complain of the nature of things when the fault is all in ourselves. Seneca, in one of his letters, mentions that his wife's maid, Harpaste, had nearly lost her eyesight, but “she knoweth not she is blind, she saith the house is dark. This that seemeth ridiculous unto us in her, happeneth unto us all. No man understandeth that he is covetous, or avaricious. He saith, I am not ambitious, but no man can otherwise live in Rome; I am not sumptuous, but the city requireth great expense.”
Newman, in perhaps the most beautiful of his hymns, “Lead, kindly light,” says:
“Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see
The distant scene ; one step enough for me." But we must be sure that we are really following some trustworthy guide, and not out of mere laziness allowing ourselves to drift. We have a guide within us which will generally lead us straight enough.
Religion, no doubt, is full of difficulties, but if we are often puzzled what to think, we need seldom be in doubt what to do.
“To say well is good, but to do well is better ;
the gain." Cleanthes, who appears to have well merited the statue erected to him at Assos, says: "Lead me, o Zeus, and thou, O Destiny, The way that I am bid by you to go : To follow I am ready. If I choose not, I make myself a wretch ;-and still must follow."
If we are ever in doubt what to do, it
is a good rule to ask ourselves what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done.
Moreover, the result in the long run will depend not so much on some single resolution, or on our action in a special case, but rather on the preparation of daily life.
Battles are often won before they are fought. To control our passions we must govern our habits, and keep watch over ourselves in the small details of everyday life.
The importance of small things has been pointed out by philosophers over and over again from Æsop downwards. “Great without small makes a bad wall,” says a quaint Greek proverb, which seems to go back to cyclopean times. In an old Hindoo story Ammi says to his son, "Bring me a fruit of that tree and break it open.
What is there ?" The son said, “Some small seeds.” “Break one of them and what do you see?” “Nothing, my lord.” “My child,” said Ammi, “where you see nothing there dwells a mighty tree.” It may almost be questioned whether anything can be truly called small.
“There is no great and no small
And it cometh everywhere." I We should therefore watch ourselves in small things. If "you wish not to be of an angry temper, do not feed the habit: throw nothing on it which will increase it: at first keep quiet, and count the days on which you have not been angry. I used to be in a passion every day; now every second day; then every third ; then
But if you have intermitted thirty days, make a sacrifice to God. For the habit at first begins to be weakened, and then is completely destroyed. When you can say, 'I have not been vexed to-day, nor the day before, nor