WHAT THE ROMAN LADY SAID.
“You may always be successful if
you do but set out well, and let
good thoughts and practice proceed upon right method.”—Marcus
The same wise Roman emperor who said this tells us a very pretty thing about his mother, which shows us what a wise lady she must have been, and how in the days of his manhood, with the cares of a great nation upon him, he yet pondered upon the childhood teaching of home. First, he speaks of his grandfather Verus, who, by his example, taught him not to be prone to anger; then of his father, the Emperor Antoninus Pius, from whom he learned to be modest and manly; then of his mother, whose name was Domitia Calvilla. Let us read some of his own words about her, dwelling particularly upon a few of them. He writes: “As for my mother, she taught me to have regard for religion, to be generous and open-handed, and not only to forbear from doing anybody an ill turn, but not so much as to endure the thought of it.”
Now these words are the more wonderful when we remember that they were not taken down by a scribe in the pleasant apartments of the royal palace in Rome, but were written by the Emperor himself on the battlefield; for this part of his famous book is signed: “Written in the country of the Quadi.”
In our last Talk on the Hands we came to the conclusion, that unless the hands were commanded they could not act. And on inquiring as to what gave these commands we found it was the thoughts. Many people believe it is perfectly safe to think anything, to have even evil thoughts in their hearts, for thoughts being hidden, they say, cannot be seen by others. But a strange thing about thought is this: The moment we have a thought, good or bad, it strives to get out of us and become an action. And it most always succeeds. Not at once, perhaps, for thoughts like seeds will often slumber a long time before they spring into life. So it becomes very clear to us that if we wish to be on the alert we must not watch our actions, but look within and guard the thoughts; for they are the springs of action.
You now see, I am sure, how wise the Emperor’s mother was in teaching her boy not even to endure a thought to do evil unto others. For the thought would get stronger and stronger, and suddenly become an action. Certainly; and hence the first thing to learn in this Talk is just these words:
Thoughts become actions.
That is an important thing. In a short time you will see, that if you do not learn it you can never enjoy music, nor beautiful things, nor the days themselves. Let us see how this will come about.
I have told your teacher the name of the book which was written by the Roman lady’s boy. Well, in that book, running through it like a golden thread, is this bit of teaching from his mother.