"Looking Pleasant" - Something To Be Worked From The Inside


            Acting on a sudden impulse, an elderly woman, the widow of a soldier who had been killed in the Civil War, went into a photographer's to have her picture taken. She was seated before the camera wearing the same stern, hard, forbidding look that had made her an object of fear to the children living in the neighbourhood, when the photographer, thrusting his head out from the black cloth, said suddenly, "Brighten the eyes a little."

            She tried, but the dull and heavy look still lingered.

            "Look a little pleasanter," said the photographer, in an unimpassioned but confident and commanding voice.

            "See here," the woman retorted sharply, "if you think that an old woman who is dull can look bright, that one who feels cross can become pleasant every time she is told to, you don't know anything about human nature. It takes something from the outside to brighten the eye and illuminate the face."

            "Oh, no, it doesn't! It's something to be worked from the inside. Try it again, said the photographer good-naturedly,

            Something in his manner inspired faith, and she tried again, this time with better success.

            "That's good! That's fine! You look twenty years younger," exclaimed the artist, as he caught the transient glow that illuminated the faded face.

            She went home with a queer feeling in her heart. It was the first compliment she had received since her husband had passed away, and it left a pleasant memory behind. When she reached her little cottage, she looked long in the glass and said, "There may be something in it. But I'll wait and see the picture."

            When the picture came, it was like a resurrection. The face seemed alive with the lost fires of youth. She gazed long and earnestly, then said in a clear, firm voice, "If I could do it once, I can do it again."

            Approaching the little mirror above her bureau, she said, "Brighten up, Catherine," and the old light flashed up once more.

            "Look a little pleasanter!" she commanded; and a calm and radiant smile diffused itself over the face.

            Her neighbours, as the writer of this story has said, soon remarked the change that had come over her face; "Why, Mrs. A., you are getting young. How do you manage it?"

            "It is almost all done from the inside. You just brighten up inside and feel pleasant."


                        "Fate served me meanly, but I looked at her and laughed,
                        That none might know how bitter was the cup I quaffed
                        Along came Joy and paused beside me where I sat,
                        Saying, 'I came to see what you were laughing at.'"


            Every emotion tends to sculpture the body into beauty or to ugliness. Worrying, fretting, unbridled passions, petulance, discontent, every dishonest act, every falsehood, every feeling of envy, jealousy, fear, - each has its effect on the system, and acts deteriously like a poison or a deformer of the body. Professor James of Harvard, an expert in the mental sciences, says, "Every small stroke of virtue or vice leaves its ever so little scar. Nothing we ever do is, in strict literalness, wiped out." The way to be beautiful without is to beautiful within.

Worth Five Hundred Dollars


            It is related that Dwight L. Moody once offered to his Northfield pupils a prize of five hundred dollars for the best thought. This took the prize: "Men grumble because God put thorns with roses; wouldn't it be better to thank God that he put roses with thorns?"


            We win half the battle when we make up our minds to take the world as we find it, including the thorns. "It is," says Fontenelle, "a great obstacle to happiness to expect too much." This is what happens in real life. Watch Edison. He makes the most expensive experiments throughout a long period of time, and he expects to make them, and he never worries because he does not succeed the first time.


            "I cannot but think," says Sir John Lubbock, "that the world would be better and brighter if our teachers would dwell on the duty off happiness as well as on the happiness of duty."

            Oliver Wendell Holmes, in advanced years, acknowledged his debt of gratitude to the nurse of his childhood, who studiously taught him to ignore unpleasant incidents. If he stubbed his toe, or skinned his knee, or bumped his nose, his nurse would never permit his mind to dwell upon the temporary pain, but claimed his attention for some pretty object, or charming story, or happy reminiscence. To her, he said, he was largely indebted for the sunshine of a long life. It is a lesson, which is easily mastered in childhood, but seldom to be learned in middle life, and never in old age.


            "When I was a boy," says another author, "I was consoled for cutting my finger by having my attention called to the fact that I had not broken my arm; and when I got a cinder in my eye, I was expected to feel more comfortable because my cousin had lost his eye by an accident."


            "We should brave trouble," says Beecher, "as the New England boy braves winter. The school is a mile away over the hill, yet he lingers not by the fire; but, with his books slung over his shoulder, he sets out to face the storm. When he reaches the topmost ridge, where the snow lies in drifts, and the north wind comes keen and biting, does he shrink and cower down by the fences, or run into the nearest house to warm himself? No; he buttons up his coat, and rejoices to defy the blast, and tosses the snow-wreaths with his foot; and so, erect and fearless, with strong heart and ruddy cheek, he goes on to his place at school."


            Children should be taught the habit of finding pleasure everywhere; and to see the bright side of everything. "Serenity of mind comes easy to some, and hard to others. It can be taught and learned. We ought to have teachers who are able to educate us in this department of our natures quite as much as in music or art. Think of a school or classes for training men and women to carry themselves serenely amid all the trials that beset them!"


                        "Joy is the mainspring in the whole
                        Of endless Nature's calm rotation.
                        Joy moves the dazzling wheels that roll
                        In the great timepiece of Creation."


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