You compare yourself with others, and probably cannot help admiring your superiority. You have, besides, so often listened to the assurances of your friends that your temper is one that cannot be disturbed, that you may think self-control the very last point to which your attention needed to be directed. Self-control, however, has relation to many things besides mere temper. In your case I readily believe that to be of singular sweetness, though even in your case the temper itself may still require self-control. You will esteem it perhaps a paradox when I tell you that the very causes which preserve your temper in an external state of equability, your refinement of mind, your self-respect, your delicate reserve, your abhorrence of every thing unfeminine and ungraceful, may produce exactly the contrary effect on your feelings, and provoke internally a great deal of contempt and dislike for those whose conduct transgresses from your exalted ideas of excellence.
On your own account you would not allow any unkind word to express such feelings as I have described, but you cannot or do not conceal them in the expression of your features, in the very tones of your voice. You further allow them free indulgence in the depths of your heart; in its secret recesses you make no allowances for the inferiority of people so differently constituted, educated, and disciplined from yourself,—people whom, instead of despising and avoiding, you ought certainly to pity, and, if possible, to sympathize with.
In this respect, therefore, the control which I recommend to you has reference even to your much vaunted temper, for though any outward display of ill-breeding and petulance might be much more opposed to your respect for yourself, any inward indulgence of the same feelings must be equally displeasing in the sight of God, and nearly as prejudicial to the passing on of your spirit towards being “perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
Besides, though there may be no outbreak of ill-temper at the time your annoyance is excited, nor any external manifestation of contempt even in your expressive countenance, you will certainly be unable to preserve kindness and respect of manner towards those whose errors and failings are not met by internal self-control. You will be contemptuously heedless of the assertions of those whose prevarication you have even once experienced; those who have once taunted you with obligation will never be again allowed to confer a favour upon you; you will avoid all future intercourse with those whose unkind and taunting words have wounded your refinement and self-respect. All this would contribute to the formation of a fine character in a romance, for every thing that I have spoken of implies your own truth and honesty, your generous nature, your delicate and sensitive habits of mind, your dread of inflicting pain. For all these admirable qualities I give you full credit, and, as I said before, they would