Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Scotch Stories and Lectures, Humorous and Amusing
Lecture — Heart’s Ease


When we look upon the placid landscape sleeping in the loving sunshine of a glorious summer day; when we note the luxuriant charms of nature as seen in grand old hills, in richly wooded dells, in undulating fields of ever-changing hue, in murmuring streams, in gay cascades, in browsing flocks, in lowing herds; when every breeze brings with it the breath of flowers, the hum of insects, and the song of birds; when far in the brilliant blue the lark unseen pours down its tide of melody; when all the scattered cottages send up their peaceful wreaths of smoke; when the hamlet is vailed in a sleepy cloud ; when the ducal palace, gleaming in the dazzling sunshine, from each of all its many windows sends forth a sun;—when we look on such scenes, the thought that most frequently fills our mind is, What a happy world this would be if men were wise—if they would “ beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks”—if they would " hang the trumpet in the hall, and study war 110 more! ” But men are not so wise.

Glance at the changing picture. A far-extending plain of cultivated land, dotted here and there with bustling, thriving towns, sprinkled with stately mansions, and powdered with humble happy homes. See, in the dim level distance streaks of glancing steel appear! The distant land has now a tinge of red. It is an armed host approaching. It numbers many thousands. They march to stirring music, which seems strangely echoed from a sunny cloud that screens the distant land to which the host is bound. No, no; that is not an echo. The sunny cloud is rising, and now we see another armed host, with bands and banners which proudly wave as they advance to meet the invading foe. The opposing forces have each other full in view. They are swiftly forming in line of battle. The cannon speaks, and is answered by the bursting shell. From both sides deadly work is done; from both sides there is a steady rattle of musketry, though its killing accents are lost in the roar of the artillery. Long rages the deadly strife. The equal forces fight with equal bravery till the carnage becomes monotonous. They are charging now: they close in deadly strife, and, man to man and hand to hand, strike for dear life. The verdant fields are saturated with warm blood. The wounded remnants from both sides fall back, and are replaced by brave fresh lines. The work of death goes fiercely on. It were hard to tell which side may win, both sides so lose in noble men, who strew the plain in murdered heaps. ’Mid clouds of smoke they now are indistinctly teen, yet still they fighting fall. The sun is sinking, but the battle rages still. Night throws her lfiantle o’er the struggling hosts. Both claim a victory, which both mayhap deserve, but which neither yet have won. The placid moon is now looking down on the field of carnage, shedding her soft light o’er the dead and dying. She is lending her rays to those solitary figures who are moving with such silent speed amongst the heaps of dead. That is a mother seeking for her son, who now sleeps the sleep that knows no waking; that is a sister seeking for an only brother; that is a wife—hark her piercing scream as

“She finds him lying murdered
Where he wooed her long ago!”

Such is material war. We turn from its fearful pictures, certain that, with all its horrors, the human family suffer less from war than from the internal warrings of our hearts.

The fierce physical struggle is soon over; while the warrings of the unsubdued heart may, and do, continue for many years, during which the weary soul finds no peace. How many of us have such warfare! How many of us have set our hearts on some darling object, which Heaven refusing to grant us, we pine in secret discontent, and refuse to take delight in the many blessings with which we are surrounded; and, vainly plotting, strive to thwart the will of the Allwise. The idols of our hearts are broken in mercy; and yet, in our stubbornness, we yearn after them, refusing to walk in the better way. One man loses a worthless friendship; and he is ever after soured with life. Another loses a silly woman, whom he has seen in a radiance that had no existence save in his own eyes; and he is melancholy for life. A third would be quickly rich: he cannot make heaps of money ; and so he is miserable. A fourth would be famous: but he cannot climb the slippery steep; and so he refuses to take comfort in the homely joys of everyday life. A fifth would grasp at power: it is denied his mad ambition; and so he mourns his disappointed hopes. We would all be or have something that kind Providence refuses us; and so we war in our hearts against the will of the Allwise, and are therefore strangers to “heart’s ease.”

By what methods, then, are stubborn hearts subdued to content and happiness? Much, in such subjugation, is done by the application of common sense to our seeming afflictions. In illustration of this I shall, assuming the part of physician of the heart, examine and prescribe for a few cases of heart distress; and shall, I trust, give to each of my patients “heart’s ease.” Each case examined shall be a type of a class of cases.

My first patient is a young man, who is silently mourning the loss of a friend who has proved faithless. He shall tell his own story. He begins:—“My love for my friend was passing the love of woman. Some men don't understand sucb love: I have felt it. In all my dreams and schemes of life he was ever present. I had no joy in aught in which he was not a sharer. I almost worshipped him. Fortune has taken him by the hand. He is rich: I am poor. He passed me in the street without recognition!” He did; and you are mourning for the loss of such an one! Thank God that you are quit of such a weed ! Pluck all the roots of it from your heart. Give half the love you gave to him to all the men you meet, and you will soon have more than one true friend. Love worthily given begets love; love foolishly bestowed, as yours has been, upon the worthless is idolatry, for which sin comes suffering. You still yearn after his friendship: such yearning is just as wise as would be the yearning after a counterfeit coin, the baseness of whose metal you detected at a time when you had no urgent need of money. It is well detected now, and flung away; it might have turned up your only coin when you were far from home and supperless. Such a friend as yours would certainly have deserted you in the hour of need. Be thankful, then, that you have found him out ere you had need to lean upon him. He always was a rotten stick, falsely varnished with your good opinion. You are young and strong, and do not need his help; no, nor the help of any one. You may give help, and will certainly find “ heart’s ease” if you give the love you lavished on him to the poor and friendless. Do so, and you will soon be able to thank God that your rotten idol was broken in your sight, for all your present pain will certainly prove the seeds of future “heart’s ease.”

Our second patient is a disappointed lover. How very sad her look! She is pale and thin. Her melancholy eyes are bent upon the ground. She has no more tears to shed. Her hand is pressed upon her heart as she says, “Oh, that this bleeding heart would break, that I might be at rest! I loved him as woman ne’er loved man before: I loved him more than I loved my God. I can never cease to love him; he was my first, my only love. There was a magic in his eye that thrilled my soul; his voice was all my music; his touch was rapture. I thought of him by day and dreamed of him by night: it were heaven to me to die in his arms.” Well, well;—we know all about that. Tell us what sort of person he was. “Person! he was of the rarest type of manly beauty; he had every grace.” Well, well;—we know all about that too. We wish you to tell us how he treated you. “He treated me like a true man until he became the dupe of an artful woman. I was then forsaken,—and forsaken for one who was unworthy of his noble heart.” You may depend upon it, my dear, she was quite good enough for him; and that you are much better without him. Any man who could forget such love as yours was certainly unworthy of such love. “But,” you say, “it was all her doing.” No, no; he must have been a consenting party. If he was not bad he was at least silly; and you are much better without him. You think he would have proved a model husband; and that you would have spent a very happy life with him. Do you not think it possible that the man who could desert such a lover as you might have deserted his wife? He might; and have left you with a disgraced and unprotected family. Suppose you had been wed to him, and he then had been brought into contact with this same artful woman. I will not finish the picture. Such things are occurring every day. I chance to know the man you mourn for. Take him all in all, he is a very moderate specimen of humanity. If you had seen as many men as I have seen, you would pronounce your idol a piece of very common stuff indeed. He is ignorant and vain, and thinks far too much of himself ever to treat any woman well. He married his present wife because h thought she had money. He treats her very meanly; he swears; drinks to excess; he is a liar; not quite honest; and that’s the piece of clay you worshipped !—loved more than you loved your God! Down on your knees, poor foolish girl, and thank God you are not the mother of children to such a man! You yet will live to feel fervent gratitude for your escape. Your wounded heart will heal, and the first step to its cure must be active employment in useful work. Your leisure must be spent in doing good,—good to the neglected wives and families of such husbands as you have been preserved from. You will yet live to be beloved by a much better man,—which love you will fervently return. Meanwhile, your duty is submission, which will in time bring you “heart’s ease.” Our fair patient is incredulous. She is still affected with love’s delirium. It is almost certain to wear off; and as she sees the future of her worthless idol unfolded—when, perhaps, she reads his strange, stupid, false revelations when examined as a bankrupt—she will understand her reason for gratitude to Heaven for her present escape. She will then, in spite of an occasional sigh for hef silly youthful dream, find and prize “heart’s ease."

Another lover seeks an interview. He, too, is disappointed. The world for him has lost all charm. He take* no interest in anything. All his plans of life are shattered. He looks upon everything as stale, flat, and unprofitable. He is weary of life. She was his life : she cannot return his love; and so he is miserable. He speaks: “ I have done everything in my power to break the spell that binds me to that woman; but all my efforts are fruitless. She is never absent from my thoughts; and still she stands before me, arrayed in all the winning graces with which my love invests her. Often, before I am aware, I thus stretch forth my arms to clasp her to my heart, and but embrace the empty air. In dreams she is ever present with me, and then is all my own—telling ever, in burning words, how truly her heart beats in sweet response to mine. She then is urgent as myself to have our marriage hastened. An early day is fixed. The sweet morning dawns. I go forth a proud and happy bridegroom, and at the altar meet my radiant bride. The holy man in solemn tone lays on the vows, which we in fervent rapture take. He says, “Join hands,”—and I awake, my heart with disappointment beating like a cannon! I then can sleep no more, but toss in agony till morning. Sometimes my thoughts in sleep take other shapes. But yesternight I seemed sailing with her on a silver sea. It was moonlight, and a very gentle breeze sat in our sail, urging us along a beauteous track of golden wavelets, raised by the footsteps of the gambolling gusts that hurried on before. My hand lay gently on her shoulder, and we talked in whispers, she often looking to the stars, I seeing no stars save her sweet eyes. She oft repeated, “We shall never part.” My heart was throbbing with such rapture that I sat motionless and silent,—when suddenly our boatman pointed to a small dark cloud that boded danger. With frightful speed it blackened all the sky. We instantly stood in for shore. We were swiftly nearing land, when from the very centre of the cloud a blaze of lightning burst. Our boat was struck, and I was swimming in a broken surge, hearing naught but fearful thunder. A second flash displayed my loved one. She was clinging to a fragment of our boat. Heaven seemed to grant me more than mortal strength. I seemed to reach her with a single stroke; then with one hand I cut the foaming surge, while with the other I upheld my precious prize. The breaking waves were strong; but I, inspired by love, was stronger. I never paused to rest till safely oh the beach we stood. She gazed on me with a look of triumphant love, and I, emboldened, made to take my payment from her lips, when, starting, I awoke! Such are my dreams—by thoughts of which my waking hours are haunted. I know she can never be mine; and yet I cannot break the spell that binds me to her.” Perhaps it were best to tell such a lover to love on and die, consoling him with the assurance that

"There’s nothing half so sweet in life
As Love’s young dream.”

But such a style of treatment will not do. The poor fellow must be brought back to his senses; so I must tell him that it is for some wise purpose that he is denied the love of that woman, and that it is his duty to set about finding out why he is better without her. If he gives sufficient attention to the question he will certainly solve it to his satisfaction. If, with this idea in view, he looks narrowly at the lady, he will in all probability discover some flaw in her that will assist him to “heart’s ease.” If he cannot find in her aught that makes him bless his stars that she is not his, let him look to her relations. Are they all people he would desire to be connected with? Is there not some contemptible personages amongst them,—some old narrow Scrubbs? There is. Is that the sort of old woman his idol is to become ? Yery likely; and if it were so—by some such process of reasoning, if long enough followed, our friend will reach the conclusion that he is better without the subject of his dreams. While he is proceeding with such examination of the merits of his charmer and all her relations, I would counsel him to be very careful of his own personal appearance. He should wear the most costly and stylish clothes he can afford, and frequent every place of fashionable amusement. He should work hard, walk quick, read the driest book he knows in twenty volumes. Or, he might set about learning Goalie. His teacher should be a clever, blooming, handsome, Highland maiden. And if he fails to master the language, he should acquire it by marrying his instructor; and I have not the slightest doubt that with her he would find “heart’s ease.” His strange dreams and vaiu air-clasping will all cease when he clasps his sprightly Flora to his heart.

A host of other lovers seek our counsel. Each one says that his or her case is quite peculiar. But it is not so. Their cases are all very much alike. They have all invested very commonplace persons with sweet ideal charms; and have thereafter made a foolish fuss about them. Such fuss is very well when all goes right; but when the spell must be broken the idols must be looked at,—not as they seemed to blind love, but as they really are; and that, in almost every case, will be found commonplace enough. I think I hear your roars of laughter, if I could bring up beside me a few specimens of persons about whom other persons had been well-nigh heart-broken. I think I hear the young ladies saying, as I descanted on the charms of each of my specimens, —“Very ridiculous beau ideals, indeed!” And yet these same ladies may be languishing for youths whom we would all pronounce decidedly “silly.”

A maiden lady now whispers me that a single life is very comfortless. She must hud consolation in reflecting that Providence has so arranged that many of our best women are never married, and still are very useful, and have as much happiness as falls to the share of humanity in general. Useful old maids have, I believe, an average share of “heart’s ease.” The Baroness Nairn has, in four very beautiful verses, painted the contents and the discontents of married and single life, counselling each to extract the blessings that exist in their own lot.

"Saw ye ne’er a lanely lassie
Thinking, ’gin she were a wife,
The sun o’ joy wad ne’er gae down.
But warm and cheer her a’ her life.

“Saw ye ne’er a weary wifie
Thinking, ’gin she were a lass,
She wad aye be blithe and cheerie,
Merrily as the day would pass.

“Wives and lasses, young and aged,
Think na on each ither’s state;
Ilka ane has its ain crosses—
Mortal joy was ne’er complete.

“Ilka ane has its ain blessings—
Peevish, dinua pass them by;
Seek them oot, like bonnie berries,
Thongh amang the thorns they lie.”

The next person we shall honour with an interview is one who is sore and soured at heart because he cannot become speedily rich. If he had money, he thinks, he would have “heart’s ease.” He has no loud complaint to make, only he confesses his state of feeling is such that he takes little interest in anything. Birds sing in vain for him; the perfume of flowers yields him no charm; the grandeur of nature he does not see. He would be rich: he cannot acquire money; and so he is the victim of constant discontent. But he shall tell frankly his own story:—“For a number of years I plodded quietly on at an honest trade, making it gradually a little better. I grew tired at length of my snail-like progress, and ventured on a speculation, by which I made a lump of money. This led to another speculation, by which I lost my former gains. And so, for years, I have floundered up and down, and now am poor and heartless. The trade I am forced to prosecute I look upon as drudgery. If I could but be rich, I know I would be happy.” So speaks the man who by moderate labour can command good food, comfortable clothing, and a respectable house to live in. What shall we prescribe for him? If we had pills composed of honesty, we would make him swallow them in thousands; for the eager desire to gain wealth by a manoeuvre is not the growth of an honest heart. We have no such pills; so we must reason with our patient. Consider, my friend, how wealth is honestly acquired. Those poor labourers who trench and drain that piece of waste land, thereby converting it into garden ground; those humble fishermen who brave the dangers of the deep to land the finny tribes for our consumption; those lowly artizans who make our shoes, and tlothes, and furniture; those skilled mechanics who build our houses, ships, and engines, are the first and most important wealth-prod ucers in the world. By honest toil they earn an honest living. They are the healthiest, happiest men alive. The next, in point of usefulness, are the humble merchants who act as distributers of all the homely products of useful toil. They labour hard, content with meagre profits, which yield them the simple requirements of life. They, as a class, eat the bread of honest labour, enjoy their hours of rest, and, as a whole, are happy. After them come our hard-working professional men, who make our laws, aid us in sickness, and take charge of our secular and spiritual instruction. These workmen, worthy of their hire, become but slowly rich, yet in their usefulness are happy. Such are the various ways of life that lead to happiness; but you, my friend, who would be rich at once, would overleap these ways: you would reap where you had not sown. You would not dig, nor plough, nor wave, nor build, nor legislate, nor cure, nor teach; and yet you would be rich. You would by some dishonest dodge appropriate the labour of thousands. I must speak plainly, and tell you that in your heart you are dishonest. Do not be indignant. I speak the simple truth; for to cherish a desire to be possessed of aught for which we have not given the world full value is thievery. You would speculate. Yes; and by a dodge cheat that poor old man, that starving sempstress, that unsuspecting ancient maiden, that helpless widow, that poor blind man. You would rob them all by a skilful manoeuvre,—that you might be rich and happy! Few men acquire riches in such a way. And in such a way no man ever yet got happiness. If you would be honestly rich, work hard: be as skilful as you please; but give value for what you receive. Buy that moor, and make it into fruitful fields; contrive some plan by which the comforts of our race may be increased; make some grand discovery in science which will be useful to mankind, and then you may be honestly rich; but give up all thoughts of merely scheming. Riches so acquired would have no satisfying element in them. My friend asserts that he knows men who have become rich by scheming. This I deny; for to be really rich a man must be contented and happy; and no schemer is so. The fever grows upon them all; and if they do not lose their money they lose all power of enjoying it. But what, after all, my friend, would riches yield you, that you have not now? You have health and strength; you have wholesome food, good clothing, a comfortable bed; you have all the knowledge in the world open to you; nature lays all her charms before you; you may be as useful and as happy as any man. Just take a glance at the rich men you know, and tell me if you think that they are peculiarly happy. Did you ever know a very rich man who seemed to take a very great share of enjoyment ? Did you ever see a very rich man with a large company of happy friends about him? Did you ever see a very rich man foremost in a patriotic movement? Did you ever see a very rich man personally administering to the wants of God’s poor? Did you ever see a very rich man ordering the newest and most expensive book for his own use? Did you ever see a very rich man enjoying a pantomime? Did you ever see a very rich man dancing a hornpipe, or singing a song, and getting great applause? You never saw a very rich man doing any of these things. You never saw a very rich man that had not a guarded, distant, solitary look, that seemed to say,—“Here I am with my money; do not come near me; I cannot be familiar, or you might require obligations.” Depend upon it, my friend, riches have not the power of bringing “heart’s ease.” My patient’s wife—who has been all along present with her husband—says, that ever since her husband’s first fortunate speculation, she has been constantly dreaming of becoming the proprietor of a stately mansion, surrounded by fine old trees, down whose avenues she seemed driving in a chaise and pair: and when she wakened from such dreams, and looked around on her humble dwelling, she was very discontented. Do you think the possession of a fine house would cure her discontent? Very likely, although she lived in a very fine mansion, the inhabitants of the adjoining castle would never recognize her: she would still feel far behind.

But a word of moralizing about fine houses. I could, within a very short distance, point out to you half-a-dozen of the most handsome residences, each of which might lodge a lord, that are at present either tenantless, or occupied by strangers; for in each case, just as the house was finished, its proprietor was removed to that house where prince and peasant require precisely the same accommodation. My dissatisfied fair friend may believe me when I tell her that “heart’s ease” comes not with fine houses; nay, it seems to flee such grandeur, for I have very often found when) struck by the beauty of some noble seat, I have inquired about its inmates, that they had been for years far away seeking “heart’s ease.”

But I must dismiss these patients, and I do so with a few additional words of counsel. Give up thinking of riches. If they come into your thoughts, have beside you a copy of the share list of the Western Bank. Bead it: calculate the sums that each partner lost. Such exercise will remind you that riches take wings. Look then to the many thousands who have none of the comforts you enjoy: stretch out the hand of help to some of these. You will soon feel that “ it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Endeavour to take a lively interest in all your surroundings; learn some innocent games; grow flowers on your window sill; treat yourselves to singing birds; learn to play some instrument; read all that comes in your way; work hard, and never think of money; and I have little fear you will soon have “heart's ease," More grumblers about money would force themselves on o attention, but we dismiss them all with the words the poet, which, amongst other truths, convey the tru we are urging—namely, that it is not in riches to give permanent happiness or “ heart's ease."

“It’s no in titles nor in rank;
It’s no in wealth like Lon’on bank,
To purchase peace and rest ;
It’s no in makin’ muckle mair;
It’s no in books; it’s no in lair,
To mak us truly blest.
If happiness have not her seat
And oentre in the breast,
We may be wise, or rich, or great,
Bat never can be blest.
Nae treasures nor pleasures
Gould mak’ us happy lang;
The heart aye’s the part aye
That mak’s us right or wrang.”

My next patient is a melancholy youth. He enters with measured tread, in the style of the “Prince of Denmark.” He has what he looks upon as a “noble brow,”—from which his too long hair is thrown rather wildly back. He has an d la Byron collar; and his necktie done in the style of William in “Black-eyed Susan.” He introduces himself with an exclamation from one of our spasmodic poets,—

“Fame, fame, fame,—next greatest thing to God!”

This young gentleman decidedly over-estimates fame, and we may do him good by questioning him a little about this same fame. What, then, my dear sir, is fame?“ Fame, sir, is the concentrated wisdom of the age, that sounds the praise of the worthy of each generation down to latest time.” Not so bad. And you are panting after fame 1 “Yes, sir, I think of it by day and dream of it by night: if I had fame I would have happiness—I would have ‘heart’s ease.’ You said that fame was wisdom which praised worth down to latest time. This wisdom, then, will certainly be honest: she will never praise a humbug and overlook true worth. “ Never,” says the melancholy youth. Then, if you have true worth, you are all right. So I do think it is folly to lose time thinking of fame; you should think only of being “worthy.” The fame is sure to come. Fame, you said, was praise that lasted for a very long time; and that is what you are longing after—praise. You would have every one saying as you went along, “That is a wondrous genius." When you passed the cobblers stall you would have him give his ends an extra pull, and say, “He’s wonderful.” You would have the barber jump and cut his customer each time you passed his window. You would like to see a score of tailors, all minus coats, and having very scanty breeches, standing on a wooden stair as you passed by, to catch a peep of the famous man. And then, when you had left the world (that world unworthy of your presence), you would have monuments in scores erected to your memory. Do you not think that you are a little selfish to desire such a fuss to be made about you? Do you think Shakespeare, or Milton, or Newton, or Watt, or Scott were ever in a fever about fame? Our youth says, “Burns had great longings after fame.” Yes; I admit that was one of the poet’s weaknesses : had he had more certain faith in the future, he would have been a greater and a happier man. All who would be truly great, and so truly famous, should remember the words, “ Let him who would be greatest among you serve.” Do the world s work, give over idle dreaming, and become a famous something useful. In our time we seem most in want of a famous Scavenger,— one who would devise some plan by which the sewage of our cities could be removed without the pollution of our noble rivers. There’s an idea for our youths with down-turned collars and upturned eyes, worth all they will learn from spasmodic poetry in a lifetime; for certain fame is surely his who does the useful work I have indicated! But it is not of such work that our youthful aspirant after fame dreams; he would be petted for dreaming, for just going to do something great. I bid my youthful friend adieu, bidding him get employment on a daily paper, where he will find immediate use for all his great ideas, and certain fame, if he deserves it; but he must not think of fame—he must think only of duty. When he does so, his foolish dreams having evaporated, he may possess “ heart’s ease.”

I am now waited upon by one whose heart is yearning after power. He thinks that would bring him “heart’s ease.” I cannot spend time with one so foolish. I but point him to Lords Russell and Palmerston; to the Emperors of France and Austria; to the late Czar of Russia; to the present Pope— all men of the greatest power, yet all, save one, strangers to “heart’s ease,”—the dead Czar of Russia’s heart is at rest.

Who pants for power should think of Napoleon’s steel shirt, and thank God for his lowly lot, which yields him peace and happiness—“heart’s ease.”

I thus dismiss the devotees of fame and power, and turn to our common, general discontents; and will strive to drop a few thoughts that will aid each and all of us in finding “heart’s ease.” The most frequent cause of discontent amongst the humblest working-class is the want of money. Almost every man, and certainly every man’s wife, thinks wages too small: if they were only a little higher, perfect contentment would be the result. When John, who has only fifteen shillings a-week, puts that sum into Mary his wife’s hand, Mary thinks if she had just one pound a-week she would be perfectly satisfied ; Catherine, whose husband has a pound a-week, thinks if her William had twenty-five shillings a-week, she would ask no more ; while Mrs. Brown, whose lord brings her home his twenty-five shillings regularly, thinks if Mr. Brown had thirty shillings, she would not call the queen her cousin ; Mrs. Black, whose husband is an under-foreman, and has thirty shillings a-week, would be as happy as the day was long if Mr. Black had two pounds; while Mrs. Gray, who can count on Mr. Gray’s hundred a-year, would have “ heart’s ease” if Mr. Gray had a hundred and fifty. What would satisfy each and all is just a little more than they at present possess. Now, I am not going to find very much fault with the poor housewife, who finds it so difficult to get fifteen or twenty shillings a-week to furnish the wants of her household, for wishing she had a little more. I am sure I wish she had. I am only going to give her the comforting information that all her neighbours, who have thirty, forty, fifty, or sixty shillings a-week, have just as hard work to get their incomes to supply their wants; and that many who have thousands a-year of income are just thinking the same as the carter’s wife, with her sixteen or seventeen shillings a-week. If there is any good lady hearing me who is often, even in the dead of the night, sad at heart as she lies awake thinking, “If I only had a little more!” I would have her find “heart’s ease” in the thought that almost every one in every class has the same thought and wish,—“If I had only a little more!” The old Highlander Baid, “The fever, sir, has been very bad here; but, thank God, it has been a great deal worse at Strahur.” Donald, however, only meant to thank God that they were no worse than their neighbours. We should all do so, and in doing so we should each and all find “heart’s ease.”

The next cause of discontent amongst humble workingmen is the hardness of their work. Incessant toil from morn to night, day after day, and year after year, seems to some a hard, hopeless lot; and they feel themselves, at times, quite in a humour in which they could, adopting the counsel of Job’s wife, “ Curse God, and die.” When any workman feels such discontent stealing over him he should mix the thoughts of his hard work with thoughts of his sweet hours of rest; of his refreshing slumbers; of his truly heavenly sabbaths,—all delights of which the indolent never taste. He ought to stretch his lithe figure in gratitude that he is free from corpulency; he ought to dance in triumph that he has no gout; he ought to sing such songs as—

"When Sawnie, Jock, an’ Janitie
Are up, and gotten lair,
They’ll help to gar the boatie row,
And lighten a’ our care.
An’ when wi* age we’re worn down,
An’ hirplin' round the door,
They’ll row to keep us dry and warm,
As we did them before.
The boatie rows, the boatie rows,
The boatie rows fu’ well;
And meikle luck attend the boat,
The merlin’, and the creel.”

Amen, say we. May “meikle luck” attend all useful and honourable labour ! May its sons and daughters be ever in possession of “heart’s ease!”

The discontents of the middle class, in a community such as ours, arise chiefly from the fact that we are impatient: we will not move on in the slow, sure style of our fathers. In everything we must go with telegraphic speed. When we enter business we must have large “concerns” at once; when we marry, it is not a home of love that we are content with,—we must have an “establishment:” the youngest must walk abreast with the oldest—nay, outstrip the “foggies.” Our wives and daughters are not content with being clothed,—they must be moving mounds of silks, velvets and laces. “ The more cost the more honour” seems the motto of the fair; so, to keep all this going, money must be made very quickly. Some men, do as they will, are not able to keep up the supplies; and so are strangers to “heart’s ease.” I, my friends, can hardly keep my temper in speaking of such things. Poor men, heartbroken in a vain endeavour to supply the frivolous wants of empty vanity! I am almost tempted to say, let all our men become swindlers, and all our women what you please,— only keep up the style, take larger houses, engage more servants, extend your skirts, increase your trimmings, have twice as many changes, and then insure each other’s lives. You know the rest. “The money must be had.” But such counsel will not do from one who professes to cure. I must endeavour to direct the feverish business man to “ heart’s ease.” I would have him who would be happy, in beginning business to aim at doing a sure, rather than a large trade. 1 would have him live a good way under his income. When he marries, let his house be much smaller than he could afford, that his wife may have scope for gradual extension. He who begins business so, and so carries it on, will every now and then see some new firm, with neither experience nor capital, going right ahead of him. He will see them great in apparent prosperity, although he knows they are buying dearer and selling cheaper than he. He will even be sometimes sad at heart to think on the slowness of his own progress. Well, in such cases I would have consolation come from the thought that such annoyances don’t last very long. Some fine morning the postman delivers a large bunch of invitations to the creditors of the annoyingly successful firm; and it comes out that all along the go-a-head gentlemen have been squandering money. I would have all moderately successful men, in their moments of despondency, to think of the firms we have seen in our time, whose wondrous expansion astonished and puzzled us all for a space; and astonished us still more when their fearful condition was revealed. I would have you think of those, and bless your stars that you are not a splendid rotten sham. Think of those, and it will do something in assisting you to “ heart’s ease.”

A very frequent cause of discontent amongst the “well to do” business class is the incessant application that business requires. We find the currents of fortune such that, if we are not pulling with all our might, we feel ourselves at once drifting astern,—being scourged with bad bargains, bad debts, and bad luck in everything. So we must keep incessantly at the oars. The larger our business the harder we must work. To those who feel much distressed at this I would recommend a short visit to some place of fashionable resort, where they will meet with persons iu the enjoyment of perfect leisure— persons who have nothing to do—persons who have been everywhere, seen everything, and everybody, and who, iu their useless, yawning listlessness have, with Sir Charles, in the play, come to the sublime conclusion that there is really nothing in anything under the sun. The sight of a few such men will send the business man back to his counting-house very much reconciled to his hard work and close application. I can easily imagine an able man, after spending some short time amongst the idle, returning with true enjoyment to active employment, and fervently exclaiming, “God help the poor rich people who have nothing to do!” When we feel inclined to grumble at the urgent claims of business on our attention, we might be aided in attaining “heart’s ease” by taking a few minutes and noting down the names of all the distinguished men that we have either seen or read of,— such as Lord Clyde, Dr. Livingston, Lord Elgin, Lord Palmerston, John Bright, and so on; and then inquiring what amount of leisure such men have, compared with us. We are at once forced to the conclusion that all such men have to work harder than we have; and so we have simply “to be, or not to be.” For, to be anything in the world, we must be active; if we are content to be nothing amongst our fellow-beings, if we have a very little money, we may go to sleep. Work is Life, idleness Death. Homer sang on when he was old and blind. Milton’s great work was the performance of an old blind man. Shakespeare sought little rest from writing. All our recent authors have died in harness: all our present great men are great workers. In proportion as we are small, and useless to the world, can we be spared to carry ladies’ parasols, to pet their lap dogs, and to say pleasing nothings into silly ears. Such thoughts as these should tend to calm us when we get restless at our work, and should bring to the business community at large “heart’s

I have spoken hitherto of what may in a seme be called our imaginary evils. I must, however, ere I close, grapple with the more real sorrows and sufferings to which flesh is heir. These are far too numerous to be dealt with individually, and can only be glanced at in a general way under the following three divisions:—Afflictions that reach us through our purses; afflictions that reach us through our persons; and afflictions that reach us through our relations.

It is only a very limited number of the human family who are liable to the first-named class of afflictions,—The afflictions of the purse. The purses of the great mass of mankind are wholesomely empty; or, if they do contain anything, it is so very trifling that hearts are in no way affected thereby. The extremely poor will part with their last copper, without feeling any concern either of head or heart. It is only the favourites of Fortune that the capricious lady has the power of wounding. It is only those whom she has blest with her smiles that she can curse with her frowns. She would never have very much power over any of us if we were wise enough to set only a proper value on her gifts;— if we would only look upon what Fortune gives us as something which has been lent us, and may at any moment be recalled. We would then set no great store upon riches, and would paid; with them at any time without parting with our “heart’s ease.” But very few of us have such wisdom. The golden threads get entwined about many hearts, and so, when our riches are torn from us, our hearts are sorely lacerated.

A man works hard, perhaps, for the greater part of his life, and secures what he looks upon as a competency, when, at a sudden turn of Fortune’s wheel, his treasure is swept away. What can we say to such a one? I would say at once, “ Don’t let your heart be troubled about your loss; if you do, it will spoil your appetite and disturb your sleep,—and that would do you far more harm than the loss of your money.” Such counsel is easily given; yes, and every wise man will take it. He will turn his eyes at once away from what he has lost, and will look to what he has left His will be a very bad case if he does not find himself still possessed of far more than the great mass of mankind ever had. He will reflect on this, and thank God for what remains. If he sometimes thinks on how long it took him to make the treasure he lost in an hour, he should back up that thought with the reflection, that having already lived bo long, he cannot, in the course of nature, live much longer to need money. But then he meant to leave it to his children. If this thought vexes him, his annoyance will depart if it should cross his mind that his darling son was wishing him dead, that he might inherit his money; and so God, in mercy to his child, removed the temptation. He will perhaps sigh at the thought that his daughter will now have no portion. If he does so, he might find comfort in thinking that she was now safe from every sneaking money-hunter; and would now, if she married, marry for love. If he grumbles at the thought that he cannot now retire from business, his friends should tell him—for it is true—that he is far happier working away than he would be retired. He will by and by come to understand that, having had the pleasure of making his money, he had really got all the pleasure he ever could have taken out of it. When he gets this length, he will be in a fair way to “ heart’s ease.”

But I must look at a worse case than the foregoing, and recent events could furnish any number of such cases. A widow lady is left with a numerous family, and a sum sufficient to keep them in a respectable position. Well, the concern in which the widow’s money is invested gives way, and she is left without a penny. What would I counsel such a one do? She had best first take her Bible, and read the inspired words—“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” She should look up from the page perfectly assured that, if she does her duty, her children are not to be beggars. She must then clear her mind of all the silly mother's dreams she has had about the future of her children; and, calling her eldest boy to her, tell him that she expects his help in bringing up his brothers and sisters. She will whisper in his ear her proud desire to be independent of charity. As the boy responds, “Never fear, mother; I will soon be able to work for you,” the widow will feel a thrill of joy, which in prosperity she could never have experienced; and, as her heart glows with that feeling, she should rest assured that God has ordered all for the best. With a moderate competence secured to them, her children might have leant upon it, and made no way in the world; now, having nothing'to depend upon but their own exertions, they will be healthfully active, and may soon, themselves, make more of fortune than she has lost. One after another they will now find their way into some field of useful labour; and as each in turn lays his first earnings in his mother’s lap, that mother will feel that her loss has been gain; and, in full possession of “heart’s ease,” will sometimes muse on what might have been her lot if she had not lost her money. She might have been tempted to take another husband, who, pretending to love her, was only affectionately attached to her money; and so her children might have been scattered, and she lonely and far from the possession of “heart’s ease.” I, therefore, without the slightest hesitation, say to the widow who has lost her money,—Don’t let it grieve you: if you do your duty you will yet live to thank God for your loss, which has developed the noble powers and noble feelings of your children, and has led them to know the genuine qualities of their worthy mother, and so brought you well-earned “ heart’s ease.”

We must glance at another case. A prosperous merchant, who has made a considerable sum of money, adopted an expensive style of living, and grown confident in his success!

has lost all taste for small transactions, and deals only largely, makes one monster bad debt, which at one swoop takes all his gains away, and leaves him bankrupt. To such a one we say,—Keep up your heart; your loss may yet be made a gain: retrace your steps, reduce your style of living, and adopt a safer system of trading. In your security, you put more than all your own eggs into one basket; be wiser now, and build your future fortune on a broader base: put it not in the power of any one man to ruin you; seek after the small transactions you formerly despised, and you yet may be securely rich. The dangerous mode of business yout vanity led you to adopt would certainly have ended in ruin. Be grateful, then, for the lesson you have been taught in comparatively early life; and, adopting a course of certain safety, seek and find in that course “ heart’s ease.” We need not multiply individual cases. A few general counsels may be useful to all my hearers. Bums says,—

“Though losses and crosses
Be lessons right severe,
There’s wit there, ye’ll get there,
Ye’ll find nae ither where.”

To extract these lessons from our losses should be our constant aim. When we meet with a common misfortune, in the shape of a bad debt, we ought to look well to all the circumstances connected with it, and mark them in the chart of our future lives as rocks to be steered clear of. When we lose heavy suras in companies which paid us nearly ten per cent., which came to us we knew not how, we ought to console ourselves with the reflection that our loss might have been greater, for we were embarked foolishly in a concern we really knew nothing about. When by any sudden misfortune we lose our all, we ought to find comfort in the thought that we brought nothing into the world, and will take nothing out. If we have the prospect of dying poor, we ought to feel pleased that our friends will have no ungraceful disputes at the reading of our wills. If we should tind ourselves old and poor, we ought to find comfort in the fact that “ the parish is bound to maintain us.” And to such as myself, who have seen many pauper pleasure trips, and often taken part at grand soirees in poor-houses, that fact—namely, the liability of the parish—would go a good way in directing me, in extreme poverty, to “ heart’s ease.” In my second class of afflictions—namely, Afflictions that reach us through our persons—all are interested, because all are liable. Although a poor man is well-nigh free from purse sufferings, he is just as sensitive in his person as a rich man. Any of us may at any moment be deprived of any one of our senses. We may be struck blind, or deaf, or dumb, or lame, or sick. We may have any or all of these afflictions; and yet withal, if we have true wisdom, we may have “heart’s ease.” It is very seldom, however, that all these bitters are put into one cup. The men or women who are deprived of any one of their senses are generally in a measure compensated for their loss by an increased acuteness of the senses they still possess. The blind man hears and feels with an acuteness of which we, in possession of sight, know nothing; while the deaf and dumb so observe with their eyes that, in a sense, they may be said to hear with them. This is one of the kind compensating laws of Nature, which she carries out to all her children. If we are deprived of one blessing, we have certainly some other blessing to compensate us; so, whatever our condition may be, if we have wisdom, we shall have “ heart’s ease.” No one human being has every perfection: indeed, we have, almost all, very great imperfections. One man feels that he is decidedly too small of stature; another, that he is awkwardly big. Miss A. is getting uncomfortably fat; while Miss B. is growing as thin as a razor. Mr. A. has very red hair, which is not the colour he would have chosen; while Mr. B., though still young, is quite bald. Miss C. fias ijo colour; while Miss D.?

who drinks only cold water, has a fearfully red nose. I could go on with such an enumeration to any length, for every member of the human body is liable to both deformity and disease; and in every case where such disease or deformity exists, “heart’s ease” is in danger. Now, such should not be the case, for every human being has much to thank God for; and we are so constituted that if we are not thankful, we can have no happiness; for grumbling only makes matters worse. Miss D.’s red nose, for instance, is to her a sore affliction :—she should bring herself into a proper state of mind by visiting those who would be thankful for red noses,—those who, by accident or disease, have lost that “very ill-to-spare” member.

“Heart’s ease” comes from a variety of sources to the personally afflicted. It comes first and most certainly from happy resignation to God’s will; it comes, perhaps, secondly, from the pleasure we have in comparing ourselves with others, and finding that we would not change positions, all things taken into account, with any of our neighbours. We would all rather be ourselves than any other. Stout Miss A. would like if she was thinner, but she would not be the knife that Miss B. is, on any consideration; while Miss B., although she does covet a little more plumpness, would not for the world be the mountain of flesh that Miss A. is. Well, Miss A. will never become Miss B., nor will Miss B. become Miss A.; so each should, in her own person, discern the right person in the right place, and therewith be content.

Great bodily afflictions may, and often have been, by the afflicted converted into even apparent blessings. The cripple boy who sits at home with his book, while his more robust brothers are at play, often becomes the great man, useful to the world; while his brothers remain unnoticed or unknown. Homer and Milton were both blind; Scott and Byron were both lame; Dr. Kitto was deaf; and the great American historian, Prescott, was blind; Pope was deformed; AEsop, and a whole host of the great ancients, were in some way deformed. Such facts as these should reconcile the personally afflicted to their respective lots, and assist them to the acquirement of “heart’s ease.” I take leave of personal afflictions with one suggestion. Whenever we feel ourselves becoming discontented at an unavoidable affliction, we should reason thus:—Almost each individual in the great mass of mankind has some personal distress. This is the lot of fallen humanity. Well, have I more than my average share? If the answer is, I have more than my share, the fallacious thought will be corrected if you look at the whole matter in this light:—Suppose there was a great pit formed, into which each human being who thought that his personal affliction was more than his neighbours’ could throw that affliction, and thereafter, blindfolded, take out the personal affliction of some other fellow-mortal in exchange. Many might approach that pit—the lame, the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the scrofulous, the consumptive, and the liable to insanity—all determined to throw in their distresses; but, as they mingled with one another, each would shudder at tf thought of what he might get in exchange for his present trial, and retire from the pit hugging his known malady in preference to any one he saw around the pit.

Such a train of reflections would assist each and all of us to “ heart’s ease.” One other thought. Whatever our own personal troubles may be, they will never be increased by any efforts we may make to. alleviate the sufferings of our fellow-beings: no; all such efforts will be found as something paid to account of our own “ heart’s ease.”

The third class of afflictions to which I have referred— namely, Those that reach us through our relations—would in themselves afford ample scope for an entire lecture. I can, however, only glance at them. We have sorrowings at the loss of our friends and relations; we have sorrowings at the misfortunes of our friends and relations; and we have our most bitter sorrowings at the misconduct of our friends and relations. I have said we have sorrowings at the loss of friends,—

"Friend after friend departs:
Who hath not lost a friend?
There is no tmion here of hearts
That finds not here an end."

Such partings are the will of Heaven, and so should be borne without any protracted eclipse of “ heart’s ease.” When we lose our parents the lines of Shakespeare—

“All that live must die,
Passing through nature to eternity”—

should have due weight in reconciling us to the loss. When husbands lose their wives, or wives their husbands, resignation is the most becoming virtue; and “ heart’s ease” should be sought, on such bereavements, as in the great majority of cases it is, in once more making choice of a partner! Never mind although meddling neighbours gossip: the young widow should have her tears kissed away as soon as possible; and the young widower need be in no fear of me quizzing him, although he should ask me to be abest-man” at his wedding, before his “ weepers” be much the worse of the wear 1 Unavailing sorrow long indulged in is folly: natural grief having had its course, natural consolation ought to be cordially embraced. When children are taken from us by death we ought to feel that the stroke has come from the hand of love; and, looking at the dangers and temptations of the world from which our darling has been removed, we ought in humble submission to find “ heart’s ease.”

When we sorrow at the misfortunes of our friends, we shall find “ heart’s ease” from such sorrows most readily by doing our very utmost, to make amends to our friends for their misfortunes. During the disasters of 1848 a number of friends were bewailing the misfortune of an old and much-respected gentleman who had lost his all, when one, the poorest of the company, said, “Well, I'll give him a hundred pounds;” another immediately added, “I’ll give him two hundred;” while a third said, “I can spare him three hundred.” On the spot a thousand pounds were collected: the old man was provided for, and all his friends had, so far as he was concerned, “heart’s ease.”

The misconduct of friends and relations is one of the very greatest trials of life. When our nearest and dearest prove false to us, and therefore false to themselves; when we have relations who are guilty of dishonesty, of glaring immorality, or of fearful crimes, such trials must be borne; and in such trials “heart’s ease” can only come on every effort of head and heart being made for the restoration of the lost one. If, for instance, a parent is subjected to this great sorrow—the fall of a beloved daughter—there is no prospect of “ heart’s ease” if indignant pride takes the helm and turns the unfortunate into the streets. No, no; such a course can only lead to hopeless misery to all concerned. The parents can only have comfort in such an affliction when they fold the lost lamb to their hearts. When they have stilled the throbbings of the frail sufferer, they themselves will have “hearts ease.” And even such a sorrow may, by true wisdom, be converted into a joy.

But I must have done; and I close with one thought which has been present to me all through my lecture. I said at the outset that much was done towards producing “heart’s ease” by the application of common sense to our seeming afflictions; much, I said,—indicating my belief that all is not accomplished by such a process: no; something more is required to produce true “heart’s ease.” All the earthly treasures on which we set our hearts may be, and often are, one after another, taken from us. If, then, we would have certain “heart's ease" we must place first in our affections a something that is above and beyond the things of time; a something that will be ours although we may be stripped of all our earthly possessions; a something that will be ours although we may be forsaken by our best friends; a something that will be ours although our fondest love may be repaid by hatred; and that something can only be a well-grounded hope of eternal happiness through the blood of the Lamb. If we have such hope, we may on the voyage of life encounter much of mist and darkness, rock and 'whirlpool, storm and tempest; but we shall never, even in our greatest trials, be long deprived of “heart’s ease.”


Return to Book Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast