A Pleasure Book


            "She is an aged woman, but her face is serene and peaceful, though trouble has not passed her by. She seems utterly above the little worries and vexations, which torment the average woman and leave lines of care. The Fretful Woman asked her one-day the secret of her happiness; and the beautiful old face shone with joy.

            "My dear,' she said, 'I keep a Pleasure Book.'

            "'A what?'

            "'A Pleasure Book. Long ago I learned that there is no day so dark and gloomy that it does not contain some ray of light, and I have made it one business of my life to write down the little things, which mean so much to a woman. I have a book marked for every day of every year since I left school. It is but a little thing: the new gown, the chat with a friend, the thoughtfulness of my husband, a flower, a book, a walk in the field, a letter, a concert, or a drive; but it all goes into my Pleasure Book, and, when I am inclined to fret, I read a few pages to see what a happy, blessed woman I am. You may see my treasures if you will.

            "Slowly the peevish, discontented woman turned over the book her friend brought her, reading a little here and there. One day's entries ran thus: 'Had a pleasant letter from mother. Saw a beautiful lily in a window. Found the pin I thought I had lost. Saw such a bright, happy girl on the street. Husband brought some roses in the evening.'

            "Bits of verse and lines from her daily reading have gone into the Pleasure Book of this world-wise woman, until its pages are a storehouse of truth and beauty.

            "'Have you found a pleasure for every day?' the Fretful Woman asked.

            "'For every day,' the low voice answered, I had to make my theory come true, you know.'"

            The Fretful Woman ought to have stopped there, but did not; and she found that page where it was written - "He died with his hand in mine, and my name upon his lips." Below were the lines from Lowell: -


                        "Lone watcher on the mountain height:
                        It is right precious to behold
                        The first long surf of climbing light
                        Flood all the thirsty east with gold;
                        "Yet God deems not thine aeried sight
                        More worthy than our twilight dim,
                        For meek obedience, too, is light,
                        And following that is finding Him."


            In one of the battles of the Crimea, a cannon-ball struck inside the fort, crashing through a beautiful garden; but from the ugly chasm there burst forth a spring of water which is still flowing. And how beautiful it is, if our strange earthly sorrows become a blessing to others, through our determination to live and to do for those who need our help. Life is not given for mourning, but for unselfish service.


            "Cheerfulness," says Ruskin, "is as natural to the heart of a man in strong health as colour to his cheek, and wherever there is habitual gloom there must be either bad air, unwholesome food, improperly severe labour, or erring habits of life." It is an erring habit of life if we are not first of all cheerful. We are thrown into a morbid habit through circumstances utterly beyond our control, yet this fact does not change our duty toward God and toward man, - our duty to be cheerful. We are human; but it is our high privilege to lead a divine life, to accept the joy, which our Lord bequeathed to his disciples.


            Our trouble is that we do not half will. After a man's habits are well set, about all he can do is to sit by and observe which way he is going. Regret it as he may, how helpless is a weak man, bound by the mighty cable of habit; twisted from tiny threads, which he thought, were absolutely within his control. Yet a habit of happy thought would transform his life into harmony and beauty. Is not the will almost omnipotent to determine habits before they become all-powerful? What contributes more to health or happiness than a strong, vigorous will? A habit of directing a firm and steady will upon those things which tend to produce harmony of thought will bring happiness and contentment; the will, rightly drilled, and divinely guided, - can drive out all discordant thoughts, and usher in the reign of perpetual harmony. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of forming a habit of cheerfulness early in life. The serene optimist is one whose mind has dwelt so long upon the sunny side of life that he has acquired a habit of cheerfulness.


                        "Talk happiness. The world is sad enough
                        Without your woes. No path is wholly rough;
                        Look for the places that are smooth and clear,
                        And speak of those who rest the weary ear
                        Of earth, so hurt by one continuous strain
                        Of human discontent and grief and pain.
                        "Talk faith. The world is better off without
                        Your uttered ignorance and morbid doubt.
                        If you have faith in God, or man, or self,
                        Say so; if not, push back upon the shelf
                        Of silence all your thoughts till faith shall come
                        No one will grieve because your lips are dumb.
                        "Talk health. The dreary, never-changing tale
                        Of mortal maladies is worn and stale.
                        You cannot charm, or interest, or please,
                        By harping on that minor chord, disease.
                        Say you are well, or all is well with you.
                        And God shall hear your words and make them true"

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