The Sunny Side of Life

by James Hedley
Sermon delivered many times across the country during the late 1800s

Happiness is purely and wholly a personal condition - a state of the mind, the heart and the conscience. It is not dependent upon surroundings; no matter how the wand of prosperity's wizard may have touched them into comfort and beauty, or the pencil of nature may have sketched into the landscape and the sky their glory and light. Happiness is in nothing objective, but in everything subjective; it is within us, not without us.

While walking through a splendid avenue in a beautiful city, I once heard a silly, empty-faced chattering girl say to another, as they approached a magnificent house of granite, where dwelt a millionaire, "O ain't that just perfectly lovely! If I only had a rich husband, and lived in a house like that, you just bet I'd be happy. O dear, O dear!"

The girl was mistaken. The dissatisfied, complaining sigh at the end of her remark proved that she was wrong. Her empty, cheerless countenance indicated the possession of but little capacity for happiness under any circumstances, unless it might be a sort of animal content such as a kitten manifests, when in the quiet twilight of the evening it croons a droning vesper when curled up on a rug before the fire.

I know the history of that granite house. Its lord and master, in the city, is the king of business. He holds in the hollow of his hand the financial standing and the welfare of a thousand souls. Should he turn his hand over, there would be dire dismay, ruin and death. He is a coarse, selfish, grasping, grinding "Scrooge" of a man - a deist, whose one god is money - a fellow with a faith - twenty per cent. and good security. An observer of human nature, skilled in the reading of faces, may see in his eyes the reflected shining of the tears of widows; may trace upon his thin hard lips the record of his oft-repeated "No!" when poverty hath cried, and unwise investment begged for just a little time. He loves nobody. He is in sympathy with nothing noble. With his wife, he has not spoken for years. His son, a vagabond, he long since kicked into the street. His daughter eloped with the proverbial coachman - she preferred Heaven with the coachman, to the other place with her father. He mutters "dollars and per cent." as he slouches along the streets. His hair is white. His step is slow. His days are in the shadow. His nights are filled with spectres. He is miserable. The wrinkled face of a certain old sexton puckers into a grin of glee whenever he meets him, and he chuckles to himself, "Just a little longer, and I'll get you!"

The girl was mistaken. There is no happiness in that granite house. Ah! but things might be different were she installed as its mistress. I doubt it. I find it to be a fixed law of character, that the covetous are always discontented. If today is not sufficient, tomorrow will not be. Complaining lips are the slaves of a complaining nature. The organization is bad, and unless by the exercise of the will the mind be developed into fixed habits of patience and cheerfulness, a thousand palaces of granite cannot eliminate the soul's wretchedness and complaining. Covetousness is not content with any acquirement; it cannot be happy in any circumstance.

Happiness is not in the world - it is in the heart - for the human heart, just like a garden, if it be properly cultured, will bring forth blossoms in abundance. Sow the seeds of cheerfulness and the flowers of joy will spring into life; neglect it, and the nettles of fretfulness and the weeds of misery will be the harvest. That spirit which constantly wants something else, and continually cries out against what it has, is like a bottomless pit - it cannot be filled. Happiness would be far more common if men and women were only possessed of sufficient common sense to know when they are satisfied.

An old-fashioned practical farmer put up a sign on his premises which read, "This farm of mine will be given to any man who can conscientiously say he is perfectly satisfied."

One day a man called and claimed the farm.

"You are perfectly satisfied?" inquired the farmer.

"I am," replied the man.

"Then what in the name of common sense do you want of my farm?"

Had he been given the farm he would have been no more satisfied than he was without it.

Too many of us are apt to imagine that he is the happier man who is in possession of the things which we lack and desire. We leave out of our calculations all the drawbacks and the counterbalancings, and forget that he whom we envy may be lacking in much which we possess, or may have some ghastly skeleton in his closet, or ghostly phantom flitting about his fireside.

Little natures, selfish hearts, empty souls all wear the stamp of envy, while great natures, generous hearts, full souls, envy nothing. Envy is not far removed from malice, and malice is often the parent of murder. It is related of an Arabian King that when his architect had finished for him a structure of magnificence and beauty, he ordered him to be dashed to pieces from the top of its tallest tower, for fear he might build palace of superior splendor for some rival King!

Splendid architecture, great wealth, physical beauty, and all the pastimes and entertainments of the most expensive art can do nothing but create envy's craving and the bitterest dissatisfaction, unless the halls of the heart echo with contentment's minstrelsy, and the floors ring with the tuneful steps of the soul's glad dancers.

There is a belief in the minds of many that possibly under some other sky, or in the midst of other scenes, or with some other people, happiness may be found. Like the old lady who sought her spectacles, while all the time they rested just above her brow, they go about seeking for that which is very near at hand. Far away, somewhere, beyond the shadowed hills of the life that now is, the gleam of the sunshine must be brighter! Somewhere there is a Utopian land, a Brook Farm, on a new Atlantis where all things are carried out on some lofty perfect plan, - some high-plane transcendental system - where we poor mortals can eat more, and sleep longer, and be dressed up all the time, and ride in golden chariots, and have less stingy husbands and more beautiful wives; some wonderful land where babies never cry, where meals need no cooking, and where dishes wash themselves; some wonderful Land where people always tell the truth, where debts need no paying, and where the milkmen do not skim the milk on the top, and then turn it over and skim if on the bottom! There must be some such wonderful Land where the weary soul can be satisfied and find rest!

Bless your good hearts, if the nature is such that present conditions and surroundings afford no gladness, happiness cannot be gathered from any circumstance of time, place or condition. We should not forget that the world is full of balancing and compensations, and that all the joys of life at best are only relative, comparative.

Saadi, the tender Persian poet, whose words breathe a wisdom and a kindly comfort as sweet and almost as true as a bit of Divine inspiration itself, tells us that but once in his life did he complain of his condition when his feet were naked, and he had not the money with which to buy shoes - but that meeting a man without feet, he was ashamed of his discontent and determined never again to complain.

Thousands every year rush across the sea to Europe. What for? In search of happiness, they tell us, pleasure and the beautiful - heedless of the fact that if there be but joy within, then is there joy at home, and that in this marvellous America, the sky, painted by the brush of God, is just as blue; the fields, daisy-starred, are just as green, while the glad canticle sung by the choir of Niagara's voices, and the rhythmic tinkle Of Minnehaha's laughter are nowhere equaled across the sea!

The measure and limit of gladness is in one's own nature, and not in one's opportunities or means, but wholly and only in one's nature. A travelling Irishman who had gone the whole round of the Continent was returning home satiated with having seen nothing, when in a field by the roadside he saw a fight. He promptly stopped his carriage, hastened at once to the scene of action, and without one question as to the cause at issue took sides, received his due amount t blood and bruises, and hobbled back to the carriage, exclaiming, "Be jabers, that's the first bit of race downright happiness I have had since I wint away from home!" Everything depends upon one's nature.

The needed helps toward happiness are very few. The rich man possesses no great advantage over the poor man, for after all, wealth is not happiness. Kings live not so much in the sunshine as do the common people. History affords no instance of a crown or a scepter that were not golden fetters and glaring miseries. If the elements, the attributes, the principles of happiness be not within a man, earthly grandeur and royal station can no more let the sunshine into his soul than they can add one cubit to his stature.

At the outset of life, we all may give this problem of joy a perfect solution by accepting and acting upon the words of the poet Young:

"None are unhappy, all have cause to smile,
But such as to themselves that cause deny."

There is a silver lining to every cloud, but only for those who will look for it. The truest happiness is that of sweet Christian philosophy which wants but little and having little, can thank God for it, and get along with less. The power and majesty of human character consist not so much in the ability, for then we deserve no credit, but in the willingness to try and look on the sunny side of things. The great Dr. Johnson once said: "The habit of looking at the bright side of every event is better than a thousand pounds a year." Bishop Hall beautifully, truthfully and quaintly remarked, "For every bad there might be a worse; if a man breaks his leg he ought to thank God it was not his neck!" When Fenelon's library was on fire, he exclaimed, "I enjoy the splendor of the conflagration, and I thank the Good Father it is not the cottage of some poor man!" If there is shadow on the left hand, turn from it - on the right hand lies the sunshine. It was a German store-keeper who said: "The first night vot I open my shtore I count my money, and find him not right; the next night I - count him again, and tere be tree tollars gone; vot you tink I do then, hey? You bet I fix him - I do not count him any more, and he vos just come out right ever since!" I like the spirit of that chap who, when hungry, sold his coat for a loaf of bread, and when a dog snatched the bread and ran away with it, exclaimed: "Thank Heaven, I still have my appetite left!" Misfortune is brimful of pleasure; it simply wants fishing out. One of the most delightful examples of a man's determination to look on the bright side of an unfortunate affair was in the instance of a German soldier, who laughed tremendously all the time he was being flogged, and when at the end of the flogging the officer inquired the cause of his mirth, broke out into a fresh fit of laughter. "Ha! ha! ha! Goodness gracious! You've been lickin the wrong man!"

How grandly Beethoven, the world's master spirit - of music, rose above the trials and afflictions of his life into the realms of joy and melody! When we think of the sad privations of Beethoven's physical and affectional nature, it becomes a matter for which, with him, we too should rejoice, while we marvel at the genius and the joy of his soul whose creations have lifted and still lift enraptured thousands to Heaven. The most beautiful, the most wonderful, the most original of his creations were produced when his physical ear had been almost wholly paralyzed; still, through the sounding aisles of his soul, swept in tuneful grandeur the waves of melody's ocean! On the occasion of his last public appearance at a festival in his honor during the performance of his more than matchless Ninth Symphony, he sat with his back to the great audience, unconscious of the applause that, like a tropic whirlwind, swept through the theater. As deaf and unmoved as a stone, he sat in the midst of shouts of thunder! A friend, who loved him, touched him, and signalled that he should turn and witness the, enthusiasm of the multitude his music had thrilled. He turned - his face, hitherto white and expressionless, as a marble image in the blackness of night, lighted with a beauty that only joy can illuminate - the floodgates of joy were opened wide, and the soul of the Master rose to the summit of ecstacy's Mount of Transfiguration!

See where he sits, the lordly man,
The giant in his singing;
Who sang of love, although for him,
No lover's bells were ringin'
The man who struck such golden chords,
As made the world in wonder,
Acknowledge him, though poor and dim,
The mouth-piece of the thunder!

He heard the music of the skies,
What time his heart was breaking;
He sang the songs of Paradise
Where love has no forsaking -
And though so deaf, he could not hear
The tempest's thunder-token,
He made the music of his soul
The grandest ever spoken!

Duty demands that we direct our steps down the paths where the sunshine falls. The best good of society depends upon the individual's personal efforts toward righteous pleasure, for righteous pleasure is the only good. "Rejoice and be exceeding glad" is a Divine Command, and they who shun the sweet smiles of life, and turn a deaf ear to the music of honest laughter, are not only disobedient children of the Infinite One, but are guilty, sometimes, of the crimes of disturbing sanity's balance, and of spiritual and affectional suicide and murder. Laughter is often God's guarantee against insanity; it is the balance-wheel in our metaphysical, our psychological structures. Men who do not laugh are not only sad men, but often bad men, and they have been mad men. Long-continued mental depression must produce something of brutality and crime.

You remember doubtless that Frederick, the father of Frederick the Great of Prussia, was a willing slave to the most depressing fits of melancholy, insomuch so that his entire nature, once joyous, hopeful and kindly, became brutally morose and cruel. He treated his children with the grossest cruelty, compelled them to eat the most disgusting food and crowned this brutality by spitting into it.

It matters not as to crowns and kingships and all the gems and baubles time may give, unless inside the halls of the heart there be the music of sweet contentment's song, and up and down the corridors of the conscience the joy-bells of honor, of righteousness and love ring out a glad jubilee, life can have no sunny side.

Wealth, art, song, eloquence, music, beauty and even the brightest wit itself - none of these things can give to us aught of true gladness, unless the mind, the heart and the conscience be kindly and unselfish, pure and fair.

Nowhere in literature may we find a more brilliant example of wit than Jonathan Swift, and yet what a wretched life was his; how miserable his whole existence. The nature of a wit is seldom happy. We are too apt to confound wit with humor. They are very different qualities. Wit comes out of the head; humor is of the heart. Wit may be smooth and beautiful, but its beauty is like that of the lightning - its edge is like to that of a sword of Damascus. It cuts and maims, it bruises and severs. It leaves a wound behind, it. The wit never makes a friend. He makes sport at somebody's expense, and his mission seems to be to hurt somebody's feelings.

One, Mike, an Irishman, said to another:

"Pat, how long can a gander stand on one leg?"

"Oh! git out wid ye - get up yersilf and find out!" replied Pat.

That was a witty answer, but Mike did not like Pat quite so well after that. He had hurt his feelings and lost something of his friendship.

A certain young lady who had enjoyed about forty magnificent summers and as many beautiful winters, was entertaining one night at her father's home a young man friend. Incidentally while chatting with the young man, she mentioned the fact of its being her birthday, and added: "I have here a beautiful book of poems which my papa gave me this morning as a birthday remembrance. I have such a dear good papa, he always gives me a book on my birthday." The young man replied: "What a splendid library you must have by this time!" That, too, was wit, but the young lady did not love the young man quite so much after that observation.

If a young man would keep the heart of his best girl as his own heart, he must not be witty at his best girl's expense. Wit cannot keep love long.

Humor is not like that. It is kindly and considerate. It never makes an enemy. The humorist would rather suffer himself than have any suffer because of him.

Of the humorists of our time, there is in my heart a warm corner for that merry and sweetly tender soul, Robert J. Burdette. Sides have ached with laughter with him, but never a heart at any word of his. Eyes brighten at his coming, and white cheeks blossom into roses of red when he smiles.

Tom Hood, of England, was a humorist; you may read his every line, prose or poetic, and you shall not find a sting in one of them. The heart which could conceive his immortal "Song of the Shirt," the poem which opened wide the dismal windows of a hundred thousand garrets, that the eyes of truth, of pity and of love might look in, must have been one of unspeakable tenderness. His was the heart of a humorist because it was a heart of love.

The humorist is never a pessimist, never a complainer; he will suffer uncomplainingly, and smile in the face of death itself.

It is related of the colonel of a certain New York regiment that while passing over the battlefield of Gettysburg, finding here and there some broken boy, now and then binding up a gaping, bleeding wound, he came upon a lad from his own command. He had been shot, and a great ragged hole was torn in the side of his face. Bending low above him, the colonel said: "My God, Jack, how you must suffer! I heard you was hurt, lad; I've been trying for an hour to find you, and have passed this way a dozen times. You must have seen me. Why didn't you call out to your old colonel, who loves you, Jack? I have a bandage and a canteen of water for you, my boy. Why didn't you speak to me, Jack?" Jack was the humorist of the regiment. He never hurt a heart by any word of his however merry it may have been. Everybody loved him. Looking up into the eyes of his colonel, he said: "That's all right, old fellow. God bless you. I wanted the bandage and the water bad enough, but I couldn't ask you for them - why, you dear old fellow, I couldn't - look at me - I couldn't - I didn't have the cheek!"

Even with the hand of death upon him, he would not hurt the heart of the old colonel who loved him, with one word of complaint. Jack was a humorist.

Was Jonathan Swift, the prince of the wits of the world, like unto that in spirit? Someone said to him, "How shall we stop this terrible Irish famine?" "Easy enough," he replied; "kill the babies of the poor, boil them, and when they are well done, feed them to the rich!"

That was a witty answer, but a brutal answer, and no remedy for Ireland's hunger and heartache and tears.

I like to lay down just here a little maxim after my simple fashion: "We may not be happy within from without, unless we are first happy without from within." It is all a within condition, and only from pure contented and loving within conditions of mind and heart and conscience may happiness come, or laughter to your lips or mine - laughter that shall be worth anything - helpful, honest, uplifting laughter. Such is the only laughter to encourage, to permit. Did you ever stop to think that very much of your character is revealed in your laughter? At what sort of things do you laugh with pleasure? Are you willing to tell all your stories of mirth at night at your mother's knee? Are you willing that your chaste wife or your sweetheart should join with you while you tell or listen to stories told - told for the sake of laughter! "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Out of the measure of the heart the lips and tongue ripple forth a tribute to that which is healthful and clean and holy, or that which shall disease and smirch and profane.

Forget not that the ear of God is listening to your laughter and mine, and that only the laughter which bubbles from a clean heart's fountain is fit for the hearing of Him who is all purity. I believe in clean and honest laughter. Let it sound. Let it ring till the hills of Heaven sing back an answering echo.

Mothers, in your homes, stay not the children's laughter. When the soft shadows of evening fall like curtains about the house, and blue-eyed Bessie with eyes like Southern violets and hair in which the sunlight smiles, sits on this side the firelight, and black-eyed Tom, the wee Gypsey rascal, sits on that side, while they build the fairy castles of the fabric of their fancies and shout with laughter till the little room rings with music sweeter than the airs of Bellini, do you love them - let it sound! Stay not that music. In after years, when the battle of life has grown fast and furious, and Tom and Bessie, man and woman grown, pause on the hill-tops weary and almost hopeless, the memory of that evening time, of that laughter and your smiles will give them hope and courage to cheerily and bravely fight again and again the conflict of living till the coming of that Morning whose victory is all glory and whose dawning is peace.

I am not in sympathy with the doleful side of things. I cannot learn to love the croaker - the man who hates beauty, sneers at cheerfulness, mocks at bright colors, glad surroundings and handsome garments, and gives this dear old world to understand that he is not of it; and so in word and look and dress is a veritable epitome of melancholy, who sits apart like some Sir John Dismal, Knight of the Rueful Countenance. In all the realms of healthful, beautiful nature, you may not find one example upon which to base joyless asceticism[.] The square-cut coat, straight vest and coal - scuttle bonnet of the sneerer at the beautiful were never made from any pattern in sweet nature's book of fashion plates. To my mind Nature is the true founder and model of fashion - the fashion of loveliness - and the mightiest and tiniest of her creations bear the stamp of her beautiful fashion. We may curl and crimp forever, and why should we not? I would not give a cent for my wife's hair if she did not crimp it - it is crimpable hair - and yet the dainty crimping on the edges of a fern-leaf done in Nature's fashion defies all our imitation. We wear pretty stars in our hair, and why should we not? Yet each day in the summer we may trample down a million stars infinitely prettier when we tread on the daisies of yonder field. We coil beautiful tendrils with consummate skill about our bonnets, and there is no wise reason why we should not; but look you, down the face of yonder granite rock trails a floss-like moss with fairy leaves of purple and green and gold, whose exquisite grace and dainty loveliness put all our imitative arts to shame. I like fashion. I believe in the mission of the beautiful. It breeds excellent conduct and compels good behavior. As a rule better manners walk beneath a decent hat, however modest the material, than under a dirty, greasy old "slouch" with a hole in it.

When we go out to spend a pleasant well-conducted evening, we dress fittingly for the occasion, and we behave with accompanying consistent decorum, because we have done so. There is a close connection between clothes and conduct, between dress and deportment. There is in my neighborhood a woman who, when she has on her slatternly garments is a gossipy, slanderous, scandalous, mischief-brewing creature, but when she puts on her fair and well-to-look-on clothing, behaves herself with admirable care and grace - she does not want to disgrace her clothes. Cleanliness, not only of the skin, but of the garments, is next to godliness as a rule. It is hard for a man to be godly while he is dirty. No man can be a decent or desirable church-member who wears a dirty shirt four consecutive Sundays. The best work done by the Young Men's Christian Association is done in the bath-tub. Without frequent washing there will be no abiding worship. Christianity in a large measure depends for its continuance upon water and soap. Helps toward righteousness are to be had in the drug stores - perfumed helps - in the form of scented soaps at five cents a bar. May I commend the mission of the beautiful, the gospel of the cleanly, and the inspiration toward seemly behavior to be found in right fashion? Happiness is the frequent outcome of these things. My dear girl friend, if you look well with a rose in your hair, wear it. If you like the flashing of a gem upon your finger, and you can afford it, put it on. If you believe you would be happy in a red dress, trimmed with yellow and blue and green, get into it. You have a right to these things, providing the mind be not neglected and the morals soiled to get them. Let the natural connection between the outward garniture and the inward ,grace be maintained. The being within should hold hard the band of the seeming without, so shall the two walk in the way of the Ever-Beautiful, where the sweep of the soul's sunlight falls. It should not be forgotten that the "red fisherman" still angles for the daughters of Eve, and many a soul does he catch with his bait of finery. If ever there cometh an hour when a trinket, or a dress may be obtained at the cost of character, and you wish to keep as your portion the sunny side of life, let the dress and the trinket go keep your character. Holiness is better than a hat. The fashion of the beautiful is a good thing, but we may make it a vile thing - we may make anything a vile thing. Men have served the devil before now, and have justified the service with a Bible text. Women have gone the way of the wayward, with the pew of a church as the starting point. The influence of Christ's presence on earth was good, but it did nothing for Judas. The trouble was not with Christ, however, but with Judas.

Be not tempted - tempt not your friend. Be your brother's guide, your sister's keeper.

A certain young woman said, "I found my laces and jewels were dragging me down to hell, so I gave them all to my sister!" She had forgotten something. She had lost sight of the fact that they are the happiest souls who, while determined to walk in the ways of righteousness, are willing to lead others with them. Let us be fair and gracious one toward another. Let us help one another. There is not a man in all the world, however humble and lowly he may be, but may do some good, if he is only willing to try. He may make some pathway smoother, some sky brighter; he may bring the roses back to white cheeks again, and attune the broken voices of the sorrowing to laughter's key - he may do this if be is willing to try. It is again a within condition. He may fail in the trying, he may blunder; it matters not - the one thing needed is the right spirit, the willingness from within to try. He may blunder a thousand times, and we shall laugh not at him, but with him, and happiness shall come because of the blunder and the laughter.

A good-hearted, red-headed, rosy-cheeked, bay-windowed Irishman, innocent of the world, its fashions and its fads, was walking upon one occasion down Holborn street, London. Just in front of him marched with stately grace an elegantly attired lady. She had on a gorgeous cloak. Hanging below her cloak, he noticed two broad bands of ribbon. He did not know what they were for. He had never perused the "Delineator," or the "Mode" and therein ascertained that such "contraptions" were called "sashes" and were for ornament and not for use. To him, they were unattached straps, out of place and service and threatening imminent disorder and disaster. Stepping tip to the lady, he lifted his ragged cap with the grace of a true gentleman, and said: "I beg your pardon, ma'am, but your galluses is untied!" He thought he saw danger, and it must not come if he could help it. He had blundered, but his heart was in the right place.

There is not a woman in all the world, however humble and lowly she may be, but may do some good, be it no more than to hush to sleep some tired mother's crying baby. Some years since, while on my way to a Florida Chautauqua, there chanced to be in the car with me a tired, sad-looking woman. She had a babe in her lap, a fragile blossom of a thing. She was going to the sunny Southern country, hoping that the balmy breath of that sweet Southland might bring back the suffering little one's health and strength again. In pain, the baby moaned and fretted well nigh the whole journey through. It's cries annoyed a certain masculine passenger at one end of the car. He was a thick-necked, big-jawed, slouchy-lipped, pug-nosed, little-eyed, low-browed, flat-top-headed man. Such men seldom love babies. They love bull dogs better, - and generally own two or three. Several times this man blurted out what you might have expected of him: "Why don't somebody shut up that infernal young one?"

There was another woman in the car - another tired, troubled woman. She was in mourning. Lines of care were on her brow. You would have known whether you read hearts in faces or not, that many a time and oft she had drunk salt tears from the rusted rim of the chalice of sorrow. These are the women who can appreciate and understand "heartbreak and crying" everywhere. This woman went to the first woman, and said, "I beg your pardon; I do not know you - that is, I am a stranger to you, but you took so tired. Will you let me take your baby?" She tenderly took the tiny sufferer. She walked the car with it. She crooned lullaby songs to it - songs she had heard in her childhood, at the twilight hour. The baby began to look at her. Soon it smiled. Now it cooed soft murmurings sweeter than the music in the heart of a seashell. At last it slept, and by its smiling, we knew it dreamed beautiful dreams. The car was filled with sunshine. 56"This is the secret of happiness."

This is the secret of happiness. It is the last "goodnight" of the Master to men put into action, into service. "A new commandment I give unto you that ye love one another!"

Happiness never comes to the man who liveth to, himself alone. Montaigne, the cynic, revealed his ignorance of the best of human kind when he said: "Man is like an ass going to market after a bundle of hay; all the ass sees is the hay." And again that "The best of life comes only to those who live to themselves alone." All of the best and brightest of nature and, of life is an undying refutation of such cynicism. Every summer night - wind that with the gentlest touch rocks the nodding flowers to sleep; every dewdrop kissing back to conscious life the panting mosses fainting in the roadside dust; every rain-drop that falls to swell the river's triumphant march to the sea; every sunbeam that tints the earth and sky with green and crimson and gold, and every carrier of a cross, whether in the trenches of toil, or upon Calvary, speak the universal, eternal words "No man liveth to himself alone!"

Sometimes Sir John Dismal goes to church. He ought to go. He ought to go anywhere if there be a chance to find a little honest gladness. He goes to church on God's glad day, groaning to worship (?) a cheerful Creator, a Creator who smiled when the work of making the world was done, who smiled and called it good. He sneaks down the aisle and slinks into his pew as if ashamed to be seen at the transaction. His face is so long you might wind it round a barrel and have an end left long enough with which to go a fishing in the Slough of Despond.

If he be a member of the church, he is a half-cent, skin-flint member. He believes in that gospel which the poor have preached to them, because it costs nothing. He is the fellow who gets up at the close of a revival and shouts, "Thank God, I've been a member of this dear old church forty years, and it never cost me a cent!" How the minister must feel - the tired, unappreciated, badly-paid minister. How much the average little minister has to bear!

It makes me happy to champion the little minister. I have no axe to grind, because I have no congregation to find fault with my words, and no board of trustees to call a meeting next Thursday night to consider my dismissal because something I said about temperance last Sunday morning did not suit one of them, who happens to be the man who pays the biggest pew rent and whose money came out of a "rum-shop" under the hill. No class of professional men do as much hard and commendable work as the little minister. He must prepare and deliver acceptably two original addresses each week. How many of us can do that? I cannot do it. I like a month to get ready. Give me a year and you shall have better service. Some people have strange notions about the amount of time required to get ready for a creditable address. It was my pleasure years ago to travel forty miles to hear Wendell Phillips deliver his lecture, entitled, "The Lost Arts," that dose of medicine for our common American disease, egotism, egotism with braggadocia complications. At the close of that wonderful effort in which he moved the people as the wind of Kansas sweeps the grass, it was my fortune to be presented to him. Speaking for a company of young men with more or less ambition in the oratorical line, I said: "Pardon me, sir, but how long did it take you to prepare the lecture to which we have listened tonight?" "Up to tonight, young gentlemen," he replied, "it has taken me twenty-six years!"

After hearing George Whitefield preach the same sermon for the fortieth time, Benjamin Franklin said: "I never heard that sermon before, for he delivered it as might an inspired Arch-angel!" The little minister does well twice a week. He must be in very close sympathy with the Divine teacher to do that. He must be a harp, the strings of which are touched by angel hands. The dear little minister. And yet he is human. He has a back to cover, a stomach to fill, a mind to feed, a wife and children to care for, and a hundred things to do which cost money, and in return for his work, his wonderful work, what of financial compensation gets he? A thousand dollars a year and a donation. You know what a donation is, because you have attended them. A donation is an occasion upon which the numerous members and friends of the church gather at the parsonage with gifts of slippers and doilies and remain long enough to eat up all the little minister has in the house.

I remember a certain Presbyterian brother, and he might have been Methodist - there are some awfully mean men in the Methodist church - I know, because for the most part of my life I have been a Methodist - but he happened to be a Presbyterian. I have no desire to discriminate in the matter of creeds. One creed to me is as good as another, if Christ be in the heart of it. There are a great many different Christian railroads, and they all run to the same Celestial Union Depot. We cannot all have the same creed, any more than we can all love and marry the same sweetheart. Our tastes and needs and views differ. Some of us in our religious choosing are what we are because of temperament; some because of education or example or precedent; some would not if they could, depart from the faith of childhood, when at mother's knee infant lips learned to lisp "Our Father." Today, because of my love of and desire to please a good woman I am riding on the Congregational railroad train, and yet because of my childhood and my mother's knee I love best the Methodist route to God's Union Depot. The Methodist train is an accommodation train. It is the only train I know of that will back up and let a man get on again when he falls off. That is why I like it. But I started cut with the story of a Presbyterian little minister. He labored faithfully for a certain congregation for seven years for a beggarly financial compensation. At the end of the seven years the trustees called on him and told him they decided to give him fifty dollars more each year. They were astonished when the good brother declined to accept it.

"You don't mean to say you won't accept another fifty dollars." "Brethren," replied the little minister, on conscientious grounds I must decline it; it takes, all the time I can spare to go round and collect the money you say you pay me now, and if I have got to go about hunting an additional fifty dollars, I shall not have time to prepare for preaching, or anything else!"

The Sir John Dismals of the church forget the promise, "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth shall himself be watered," and that too with divine dews from the sky of Paradise.

May we all not do something more toward leading the little ministers in the ways of the sunny side of life.

The Sir John Dismals of the world as a rule are unloving and loveless. John Dismal seldom or ever falls, in love. He never falls in any way. He would not be so undignified and ungraceful, so precipitous, so exuberant and spontaneous as to fall in. That may do for youth, but he knows nothing of youth, however few his years may be. If by any chance of fate there comes to him an opportunity for love, he does not fall in, he deliberately and gravely walks in. With him, it is a matter of cautious conservatism and calculation. He surveys and sums up the points of his prospective bride as a jockey sums up the points of a colt he is about to purchase: "Good points, first-rate points, great width of shoulders and depth of chest - nothing evidently in the way of a consumptive tendency; head well-poised - seems to possess considerable dignity; face fairly intelligent - not much danger of my being made ashamed because of her ignorance; arms round and muscular - she can easily do a three weeks' washing; on the whole, quite a worthy creature - I will propose to her." He does.

"My dear young woman, I have very carefully and thoroughly taken into consideration all your several graces and advantages, and I find that I may safely say to you, will you unite your destiny with mine?" What a magnificent way to "pop!" Does love do things in that fashion? Love surely has something of warmth about it somewhere. How its eyes light! How its pulses thrill! How its words ring with eloquent fervor! Monarch, my own, my king, how noble! Is there a sunny-eyed, glad-hearted girl in all the world who could render a tribute like that to a calculating, frozen John Dismal who goes a-wooing after such a fashion? What sort of a woman could live her life out with that kind of a man? None, unless she be like him - hard, cold, wooden and frozen, with no colors in the rainbow of her hope to fade out to the blackness of the darkness of despair, and no roses in the garden of her heart to wither away to dust and ashes. If she be like him she may go on - she may endure - until some day the thread of her life snaps, and like a puppet in a pantomime, or a marionette in a mum-show, she stops.

The brightest, gladdest home experiences, the most delightfully beautiful fireside hours the heart can know, logically and naturally are the outcome, the sequence of sunny courtships, winsome smiles, tender words, unselfish offerings - of hands that give and take not. There are silences, sweet silences that speak volumes of the language of the heart, and are as the singing of the choristers of Heaven, compared with which John. Dismal's stilted, metallic words are all a discord and a jangle. Words are not always essential to the bliss of the happiest wooing.

Across the sea, in the land of the Shamrock and the four-leaved clover, a lover bad passed some happy, swiftly-flying hours with his colleen. It had been a night of rapture. As he walked home to the little cot of his mother at the edge of the bog, the measure of his happiness was as the measure of the ocean. In the stars, he saw his colleen's eyes; in the moonlight, her smile, and in the red anemone of the fields, the ruby of her lips. In his hard bed of straw he dreamed of her, and his couch was soft, and his slumber sweet. In the morning, his face was radiant as he sat at his porridge and milk with his mother. Observing his smile, his mother said: "Ye must have seen Norah last night. What did she say to ye?"


"Nothing, acushla! Did she have no words for ye - no welcome?"

"Words is it?" Niver a word - but welcome - indade an' she had that mother. She looked into me eyes; she held me by the hand; she laid her head upon me heart, and she kissed me and kissed me and kissed me. For four hours I was in Heaven - words would have spoiled it!"

In matters of the heart, honesty and frankness are essential to happiness. Honesty is the open door to the sunny experiences of life, especially along the matrimonial pathway.

Young man, be honest with your sweetheart; be frank and open, transparent as the day. Let her know just what you are. If there are mean things about you, tell her so. Let her know your faults. Do not pretend to what you have not. Do not deceive her. Do not lie to her. Do not let her wait till by sad experience she discovers how contemptibly little you are, and break her heart in the discovery. Be honest at the outset. It will be better so. When the great Dr. Johnson courted Mrs. Porter, then a beautiful widow of England, he was honest with her.

"Madam," he said, "I am nobody much. I have a 'little literary smattering, but really I am not much of a man. I have a villainous temper to begin with. I mean to try with your love and help to control it. I have no money; the Duke, I understand, told you that I was rich - he is mistaken; I am poor. My dear madam, I suppose you want to marry into a good family - have some good relatives, but all are not good, and have not been good by a long shot - I remember one scalawag who was hanged!"

The good widow responded: "Like yourself, Doctor, I have but little or no money, and while I have had no relations hanged, I have fifty who deserve hanging!"

If in the time of courtship all were as honest as that, after experiences would show less of disappointment and sorrow.

In our liking and our loving, our friendships and courtships let us be earnest and honest, unselfish and simple and natural.

The love of the heart should be as the love of flowers for the light - as the love of the morning-glory for the sunshine of the dawn. The simple, old-fashioned morning-glory! Cornet of the morning, trumpet of the dawn! Hark to the tiny notes that welcome the glad burst of the sunlight! Watch it playing peek-a-boo up yonder through the lattice, one moment as bold as the morning, the next as bashful as the twilight, but always yearning to nestle in the heart of the sunshine that twineth round its tendrils of green like gleaming skeins of the gold of a maiden's hair! What an honest, earnest blossom! Who does not love the simple, unassuming, back-yard flower of the kitchen porch, the sweet, old-fashioned morning-glory!

Let hearts be like that blossom - anywhere, everywhere, in high or low estate, in castle or cot, simple and honest and earnest - sometimes rude and crude, but genuine and natural, and worth more as an example to you and me than any of the fashionable, incincere courtships beneath the blaze of chandeliers in the drawing-rooms of so-called society.

Away down in Texas, a big-shouldered, double-fisted, red-headed lump of a fellow sat courting a blue-eyed, yellow-haired lass. He sat on one side of the room in a big oak rocking-chair, playing with a deerhound that lay on the floor beside him. She sat on the other side of the room in a little oak rocking chair, stitching on a quilt - quite a gorgeous affair, which, because of the splendor of its pattern, she called the "Rose of Sharon." He tried to catch a fly that would light on the tip of "Cooney's" nose, but he said nothing. She stitched away on the stem of a "Rose of Sharon" and said nothing. Finally, she hitched her chair over two or three feet and said: "What's your dog's name?" "Cooney." "What's he good for?" "Ketchin' possums." Then she stitched and stitched and stitched, and still the "Rose of Sharon" grew, but she said nothing.

Presently he hitched his chair over two or three feet and said: "I think I'd like to - to - is your ma raisin' many chickens?" "About forty."

Then she stitched and stitched, and still the "Rose of Sharon" grew, but she said nothing. At last he hitched his chair over two or three feet more, and she hitched hers again until the rockers got so mixed up that rocking became impossible.

After a long pause, during which he tried again and again to rid Cooney's nose of the fly, he said: "Do you love, do you love - love cabbage?"

"I'm awfully fond of cabbage."

Again she stitched and stitched, and still the "Rose of Sharon" grew, but she said nothing. He still struggled with the fly. Finally, he almost shouted, "I've a good notion to pinch you!"

"What you a good notion to pinch me for?"

"'Cause you won't have me, that's why."

"'Cause you ain't axed me, that's why."

"Then I axes you."

"Then you has me!"

Cooney, the dog, stirred in his sleep, dreaming someone had whistled for him, but he was mistaken, the sound he heard was something else.

Seriously, life without honest, earnest, simple natural loving has no sunny side. It may hang like a solitary leaf upon poverty's tree, but neither time nor storm shall fade it. Friends may vanish like snowflakes on the bosom of a river, still love shall remain, sweet to the last.

The roses may fade from your bonny old sweetheart's cheeks, still to love's eye her wrinkled brow and whitened hair are always beautiful.

His hair is white with frosts of years,
Her feeble steps are slow,
His eyes no longer brightly shine,
Her cheeks no longer glow;
Her hair has lost its sheen of gold,
His voice its joyous thrill,
And yet though faded, gray and old
They're loving sweethearts still.

Can you find aught of the sunny side of life among the affectations, dissipations and shams of fashionable society? There are so many thorns mixed with its roses that but few can hope to escape the laceration of its sorrow and pain. Under the flare of gilded chandeliers in many a parlor, if you do but listen close, you may hear the snapping of heart-strings mingling with the light step of the dancer's feet and the voluptuous swell of the music. Affectation, dissipation and sham can provide nothing of the sunny side of life I recall quite a fashionable gathering. The elite were out in full force. The scene was one of fascinating splendor. A hundred lights blazed with the sheen of the sun. A hundred beautiful women - beautiful as the world of fashion goes - moved here and there with exquisite grace. Eyes flashed brilliant lights, out-vieing with their splendid brightness the scintillant diamonds gleaming upon snowy arms. Beautiful hair, brown and black and golden; soft white hands; sensuous music; flowers of rarest loveliness; it was a carnival night and the goddess of pleasure was queen. In a corner sat a plain pale-faced woman clad in some sort of simple brown material; about her neck, a bit of lace; in her hair a real rose from a garden; beyond these nothing of ornamentation about her, but her face was noble in its thoughtful power. Her broad forehead betokened a mind of strength. In her great, full black eyes shone the fire of passionate ambition. Her Roman nose told of the determination of a conqueror. Her warm, red lips spoke of the tenderness of her heart. Her square, massive chin was a revelation of a will invincible. She had climbed the heights of life oft with torn hands and bleeding feet, and had reached the sun-kissed summit, and was one of the first instructors in the schools of the nation. Her name was known to all that tinseled throng, bad it been spoken, her face to but few - she did not train in that set. She bad asked of the hostess of the gathering the privilege of an entrance with the reason reserved. She wished to gather knowledge of fashion's men and women in an hour of sham. The time was favorable, The gilded butterflies and tinseled drones began to fly and buzz about her. Miss Lillian Chatlove Tattlewit, whose gown was a symphony in green, the skirt a dream or a nightmare, and the waist a poem, an unfinished poem (but an emerald necklace filled up the break in the measure), said to Charles Addlepate Littlekin: "Charlie, do look there! Did you ever see such an old frump in your life? I wonder who her dressmaker is! I wonder where Mrs. Blowser ever picked up such an ancient fossil as that! Take me away, or I shall faint."

During the course of the evening Miss Chatlove Tattlewit condescended to entertain the company with one of her finest vocal selections. For more than three years she had been a pupil of the great Madame Peepysqueak and was altogether the too utterly splendid soprano star of the season. Of course she did not sing without very much importuning. "Lillian, dear, will you not be kind enough to sing something?" "No, certainly not. I am out of practice. My notes are not here. And you know, Charlie, these people have no appreciation. I could never get into sympathy with this listless and vulgar crowd." "Do sing something for my sake," murmured Charlie, "just for me alone darling." "For your sake, Charlie? Could I refuse anything for your sake, Charlie?"

Miss Lillian Chatlove Tattlewit gracefully gathered her skirts, and coquettishly wiggle-waggled toward the Steinway-Grand; bestowed her drapery in classic folds about the stool; gazed into Charlie's eyes, who fondly bent above her, with an expression like to that of a dying duck in a thunderstorm; plunged into the keys until they had an epileptic fit; then she sang:

"Darling, kiss my eyelids down,
Underneath the limpid moon;
With thy lips so soft and warm,
In this dreamy, holy calm;
Come, my love, ere night has flown,
Darling kiss my eyelids down!"

I should think Mozart would turn over in his grave and groan.

You shall find more honest happiness in many a cot, writ in the "simple annals" of the toiling poor than in such a palace of sham.

Old Sir John Sinclair, of England, once alighted from his coach at the door of a thatched cottage, and remained an hour talking with a lame, half-blind laborer who lived there alone. "Well, old man," said Sir John at parting, "is there anything I can do for you?"

"Nay, Sir John, nought can ye do for me. There is not a thing in all the langth and bradth o' the world that I want."

"Kate," called Sir John to his daughter, who was sketching a clump of buttercups near by. "Come here with your brushes and your canvas; it cost me much to make you an artist at London, and I have never asked you for a picture; sit down here and paint for me this old man and his cottage of thatch - it is the happiest spot in England!"

And why? Because a toiling old man had carried in and kept with him that pearl of great price, the jewel of contentment. The secret of the sunny side of life was long since given to men by Paul, the half-sick, half-deformed apostle when he said: "I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content."

No matter how these thoughts turn and turn, they cannot escape the first proposition of this theme. Happiness is within us, not without us. It is a condition of the mind, the heart and the conscience. Contentment and love and honesty are its fairies of good and of gladness. Happiness, too, depends upon trust, upon faith - faith in each other, faith in tomorrow, faith in God. We need the faith of the old black mammy of Georgia, who said: "Lawd bless yer honey, my suff'rins ain't nuffin'! Sometimes de Lawd whips us and sometimes he leaves us, jess ter see ef we won't work and try again - but Lawd bress yer, honey, when we gits tired all out an' cries like a little baby, He takes us up in His arms an' comforts us."

We need that attitude of the soul called faith. It is not possible to have happiness without faith. The man who doubts, distrusts, suspects, disbelieves, is never a happy man. The cynic, the pessimist, the iconoclast are the owls and bats of the night - their eyes never see the sun. It will not do to say that faith is but fit food for children and women; it is diet for strong men.

It makes a happy home possible, since we must have faith, we husbands and wives, we fathers and mothers in a hundred things we see not and never can prove. Faith is the foundation of most of the business, the commercial business of the world.

Some call it credit. I call it faith. What is credit in a man's business? "The substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen." That is what faith is. Columbus had faith, and America was found. Stephenson had faith, and he put steam upon wheels. Morse had faith, though a Congress had not, and he bound up the whisper of the lightning in a bit of wire and sent it round the world in an intelligible language. Faith sent the first telegram - "See what God hath wrought!"

To look with the eye of faith upon the bright side of things is a proof of greatness. Doubt and complaint are characteristic of littleness. John Dismal, a word with you: Wipe the gathered dust from the lenses of your spectacles of joy and faith, and look with unblurred vision upon the face of Nature, and you will see that every line and dimple, every glance and smile condemn in unmistakable terms all whining and sniveling, all cynicism and doubt. What sermons of faith are not preached in wood-cathedral and hill-top temple! How the winter trusts the spring, and the spring the summer! Today, the snow lies drifted; tomorrow, apple-blossoms, pink and white, shall tint the trees, perfume the air and deck the grass. Today, there may be wailing of wind and sobbing of storm; tomorrow, the robins will fill the orchard with music just as they have for a thousand years. Today, wrapped in a gray shroud of dead leaves, the grasses and the mosses lie hidden from sight; tomorrow, in shining green, in buds of pink and purple, they will smile again, just as they did when first they dropped from the gardens of Eternity into the fields of Time.

Should we not have the faith of bird and bud and blossom? The winter may come to the soul, so shall the summer also. The certainty of the summer of the soul is as sure as the certainty of the summer of the seasons. There is no chance - no accident. Certainty is the law of life everywhere. Let us have faith. We may not always know just how faith shall be given its full fruition, but somehow in God's way it comes. We need the faith of little children.

Two Irish lads, Patsy and Mike, used to peddle buttons and pins in the streets of London.

One day while trying to cross a crowded thoroughfare, Patsy's foot slipped. A great wagon passed over him, shattering his legs and breaking his arms. Mike called a policeman. Together they picked up Patsy, carried him to an ambulance and conveyed him to a hospital, where, in spite of all that skill and nursing could do for him, it was evident the broken lad was in a dying condition. The Sunday before the accident Patsy and Mike had been to Sunday school. They had drawn near the open door to listen to the sublime music of the organ as it crept out upon the air like the blessing of a benediction after prayer. A sweet girl near the door had beckoned them to go in. She talked lovingly with them. She told them the sweet old story of the passing of the Master - of the lame He made to walk, of the blind man who, with lifted hand, had pleaded for his sight; of the Master's words, "According to your faith, be it unto you," and of the darkness which gave way to the miracle of light.

"Children," she said, "we are all like that blind man. We stumble and grope in the dark of life, but Jesus is always passing by, and if we do but beckon to Him, if we hold up our hands and ask Him, He will hear us and heed us, and give us light and joy again, but we must have faith and hold up our hands."

Patsy lies in the hospital broken and dying. Mike kneels on the floor at his bedside.

"Does your legs hurt you very hard, Patsy?"

"Oh, yis, Mike - I can't stand it."

"Wouldn't you like to go to some place where they wouldn't hurt you so hard?"

"O yis, Mike - I can't stand the pain much longer."

"Patsy, you know what the good girl said to us on the Sunday, that somebody by the name of Jesus was all the time a passin' by, and if we would beckon to him, and hould up our bands to him, and ax him, He would hear us - He will hear you, Patsy, and take you some place where your legs wouldn't hurt you so hard - try that Patsy."

"I'm afraid a grand, fine gentleman like Him wouldn't care anything for a boy like me that's rags and tears and Irish." "Yis he would, Patsy; yis he would; that's the best part of it; it's the rags and the tears that houlds the gates o' Heaven wide open for the poorest of us, Irish and all!"

"I'll try, Mike."

"Dear Patsy! do Patsy - try; hould up your hand." Patsy lifted his thin white band, but weak and nerveless, it would not stay lifted - it fell down again.

"What'll I do, Mike? I can't hould the hand up; prop it up with the pillows and make it stay - Jesus must see the hand whin he passes by I've got the faith in Him. Prop it up with the pillows."

Firmly propped with the pillows, the little lad's wasted hand gleamed through the night shadows of the hospital ward with the beautiful whiteness of a star.

In the morning, when the gray old doctor of the hospital went his rounds, he found Mike sobbing at the cot-side, and be found Patsy white and dead! There was a smile of ineffable sweetness upon his face, and the little white hand, whiter grown, was still lifted aloft - eloquent testimony of the faith of a little Irish lad. His spirit had gone with the Master, for in the heart of the night He had passed by!

God never fails. His presence and blessing come with human contentment, human honesty, human love, human hope and human faith, and the joy of His goodness and the glory of His majesty are written upon the face of Nature everywhere.

On the wall of my study at home, I have a picture, the gift of a dear old Quaker friend, who, twenty years agone said: "Thee lovest Nature's beautiful, thee hast said to me. Hang this picture on thy wall in remembrance of me. It shall cheer thee when I am in the dust."

A beautiful picture, a magnificent picture of the Falls of the Yo Sem-i-te. Yo Sem-i-te, the wonderful, the mighty. Yo Sem-i-te, where the water born of the sky and the mountain-peak leaps down as with wings of light for two thousand six hundred feet over the shining rocks! What music! How the notes crash and boom with the voice of a tropic thunder. Marvelous Yo Sem-i-te. Mightiest of the Creator's temples, where in a matchless quartette of song-thundering bass in the crashing cataract, thrilling tenor in the leaping cascade, plaintive alto in the murmuring spray, and sweet soprano in the tinkling drops - voices shout from that lifted choir, "Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory," and the fingers of the wind sweep the harpstrings of the pine-trees with a grand "Amen!"

Joy is the anthem sung by these voices. Let us find the key note, and join in the singing. |