“My dear young friend,” he answered, with his placid smile, “I am even as others, afflicted with infirmities; I have had my share of sorrow—some would say more—but I have found out the secret of being happy, and it is this:
“Until you do that, you can lay but little claim to a cheerful spirit. ‘Forget what manner of man you are,’ and think more with, rejoice more for, your neighbours. If I am poor, let me look upon my richer friend, and in estimating his blessings, forget my privations.
“If my neighbour is building a house, let me watch with him its progress, and think, ’Well, what a comfortable place it will be, to be sure; how much he may enjoy it with his family.’ Thus I have a double pleasure—that of delight in noting the structure as it expands into beauty, and making my neighbour’s weal mine. If he has planted a fine garden, I feast my eyes on the flowers, smell their fragrance: could I do more if it was my own?
“Another has a family of fine children; they bless him and are blessed by him; mine are all gone before me; I have none that bear my name; shall I, therefore, envy my neighbour his lovely children? No; let me enjoy their innocent smiles with him; let me forget myself—my tears when they were put away in darkness; or if I weep, may it be for joy that God took them untainted to dwell with His holy angels for ever.
“Believe an old man when he says there is great pleasure in living for others. The heart of the selfish man is like a city full of crooked lanes. If a generous thought from some glorious temple strays in there, wo to it—it is lost. It wanders about, and wanders about, until enveloped in darkness; as the mist of selfishness gathers around, it lies down upon some cold thought to die, and is shrouded in oblivion.
“So, if you would be happy, shun selfishness; do a kindly deed for this one, speak a kindly word for another. He who is constantly giving pleasure, is constantly receiving it. The little river gives to the great ocean, and the more it gives the faster it runs. Stop its flowing, and the hot sun would dry it up, till it would be but filthy mud, sending forth bad odours, and corrupting the fresh air of Heaven. Keep your heart constantly travelling on errands of mercy—it has feet that never tire, hands that cannot be overburdened, eyes that never sleep; freight its hands with blessings, direct its eyes—no matter how narrow your sphere—to the nearest object of suffering, and relieve it.
“I say, my dear young friend, take the word of an old man for it, who has tried every known panacea, and found all to fail, except this golden rule,
“Forget self, and keep the heart busy for others.”
THE great Teacher, on being asked “Who is my neighbour?” replied “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho,” and the parable which followed is the most beautiful which language has ever recorded. Story-telling, though often abused, is the medium by which truth can be most irresistibly conveyed to the majority of minds, and in the present instance we have a desire to portray in some slight degree the importance of Charity in every-day life.