And I watched with a murmur of, blessing,
The few that on either shore
Were setting up signals of warning,
Where many had perished before.
But now, as the sunlight came creeping
Through the half-opened lids of the morn,
Fast faded that wonderful pageant,
Of shadows and drowsiness born.
And no sound could I hear but the sighing
Of winds, in the Valley of Pines;
And the heavy, monotonous dropping
Of dew from the shivering vines.
But all day, ’mid the clashing of Labour,
And the city’s unmusical notes,
With thoughts that went seeking the hidden,
I pondered that Vision of Boats.
THERE is considerable ground for thinking that the opinion very generally prevails that the temper is something beyond the power of regulation, control, or government. A good temper, too, if we may judge from the usual excuses for the want of it, is hardly regarded in the light of an attainable quality. To be slow in taking offence, and moderate in the expression of resentment, in which things good temper consists, seems to be generally reckoned rather among the gifts of nature, the privileges of a happy constitution, than among the possible results of careful self-discipline. When we have been fretted by some petty grievance, or, hurried by some reasonable cause of offence into a degree of anger far beyond what the occasion required, our subsequent regret is seldom of a kind for which we are likely to be much better. We bewail ourselves for a misfortune, rather than condemn ourselves for a fault. We speak of our unhappy temper as if it were something that entirely removed the blame from us, and threw it all upon the peculiar and unavoidable sensitiveness of our frame. A peevish and irritable temper is, indeed, an unhappy one; a source of misery to ourselves and to others; but it is not, in all cases, so valid an excuse for being easily provoked, as it is usually supposed to be.
A good temper is too important a source of happiness, and an ill temper too important a source of misery, to be treated with indifference or hopelessness. The false excuses or modes of regarding this matter, to which we have referred, should be exposed; for until their invalidity and incorrectness are exposed, no efforts, or but feeble ones, will be put forth to regulate an ill temper, or to cultivate a good one.
We allow that there are great differences of natural constitution. One who is endowed with a poetical temperament, or a keen sense of beauty, or a great love of order, or very large ideality, will be pained by the want or the opposites of these qualities, where one less amply endowed would suffer no provocation whatever. What would grate most harshly on the ear of an eminent musician, might not be noticed at all by one whose musical faculties were unusually small.