The Sunshine-Man


            "There's the dearest little old gentleman," says James Buckham, "who goes into town every morning on the 8.30 train. I don't know his name, and yet I know him better than anybody else in town. He just radiates cheerfulness as far as you can see him. There is always a smile on his face, and I never heard him open his mouth except to say something kind, courteous, or good-natured. Everybody bows to him, even strangers, and he bows to everybody, yet never with the slightest hint of presumption or familiarity. If the weather is fine, his jolly compliments make it seem finer; and if it is raining, the merry way in which he speaks of it is as good as a rainbow. Everybody who goes in on the 8.30 train knows the sunshine-man; it's his train. You just hurry up a little, and I'll show you the sunshine-man this morning. It's foggy and cold, but if one look at him doesn't cheer you up so that you'll want to whistle, then I 'm no judge of human nature."

            "Good morning, sir!" said Mr. Jolliboy in going to the same train.

            "Why, sir, I don't know you," replied Mr. Neversmile.

            "I didn't say you did, sir. Good morning, sir!"


            "The inborn geniality of some people," says Whipple, "amounts to genius." "How in our troubled lives," asks J. Freeman Clarke, "could we do without these fair, sunny natures, into which on their creation-day God allowed nothing sour, acrid, or bitter to enter, but made them a perpetual solace and comfort by their cheerfulness?" - There are those whose very presence carries sunshine with them wherever they go; a sunshine which means pity for the poor, sympathy for the suffering, help for the unfortunate, and benignity toward all. Everybody loves the sunny soul. His very face is a passport anywhere. All doors fly open to him. He disarms prejudice and envy, for he bears good will to everybody. He is as welcome in every household as the sunshine.


            "He was quiet, cheerful, genial," says Carlyle in his "Reminiscences" concerning Edward Irving's sunny helpfulness. "His soul unruffled, clear as mirror, honestly loving and loved, Irving's voice was to me one of blessedness and new hope."


            And to William Wilberforce the poet Southey paid this tribute: "I never saw any other man who seemed to enjoy such perpetual serenity and sunshine of spirit."


            "I resolved," said Tom Hood, "that, like the sun, so long as my day lasted, I would look on the bright side of everything."


            When Goldsmith was in Flanders he discovered the happiest man he had ever seen. At his toil, from morning till night, he was full of song and laughter. Yes this sunny-hearted being was a slave, maimed, deformed, and wearing a chain. How well he illustrated that saying which bids us, if there is no bright side, to polish up the dark one! "Mirth is like the flash of lightning that breaks through the gloom of the clouds and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a daylight in the soul, filling it with a steady and perpetual serenity." It is cheerfulness that has the staying equality, like the sunshine changing a world of gloom into a paradise of beauty.


            The first prize at a flower-show was taken by a pale, sickly little girl, who lived in a close, dark court in the east of London. The judges asked how she could grow it in such a dingy and sunless place. She replied that a little ray of sunlight came into the court; as soon as it appeared in the morning, she put her flower beneath it, and, as it moved, moved the flower, so that the kept it in the sunlight all day.


            "Water, air, and sunshine, the three greatest hygienic agents, are free, and within the reach of all." "Twelve years ago," says Walt Whitman, "I came to Camden to die. But every day I went into the country, and bathed in the sunshine, lived with the birds and squirrels, and played in the water with the fishes. I received my health from Nature."


            "It is the unqualified result of all my experience with the sick," said Florence Nightingale, "that second only to their need of fresh air, is their need of light; that, after a close room, what most hurts them is a dark room; and that it is not only light, but direct sunshine they want."


            "Sunlight," says Dr. L.W. Curtis, in "Health Culture," has much to do in keeping air in a healthy condition. No plant can grow in the dark; neither can man remain healthy in a dark, ill-ventilated room. When the first asylum for the blind was erected in Massachusetts, the committee decided to save expense by not having any windows. They reasoned that, as the patients cannot see, there was no need of any light. It was build without windows, but ventilation was well provided for, and the poor sightless patients were domiciled in the house. But things did not go well: one after another began to sicken, and great languor fell upon them; they felt distressed and restless, craving something they hardly knew what. After two had died and all were ill, the committee decided to have windows. The sunlight poured in, and the white faces recovered their colours; their flagging energies and depressed spirits revived, and health was restored." The sun, making all living things to grow, exerts its happiest influence in cheering the mind of man and making his heart glad, and if a man has sunshine in his soul he will go on his way rejoicing; content to look forward if under a cloud, not bating one jot of heart or hope if for a moment cast down; honouring his occupation, whatever it be; rendering even rags respectable by the way he wears them; and not only happy himself, but giving happiness to others.


            How a man's face shines when illuminated by a great moral motive! And his manner, too, is touched with the grace of light.


            "Nothing will supply the want of sunshine to peaches", said Emerson, "and to make knowledge valuable you must have the cheerfulness of wisdom."


            "Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness," said Carlyle; "altogether past calculation its powers of endurance. Efforts to be permanently useful must be uniformly joyous, - a spirit all sunshine, graceful from very gladness, beautiful because bright."


            "The cheerful man carries with him perpetually, in his presence and personality, an influence that acts upon others as summer warmth on the fields and forests. It wakes up and calls out the best that is in them. It makes them stronger, braver, and happier. Such a man makes a little spot of this world a lighter, brighter, warmer place for other people to live in. To meet him in the morning is to get inspiration, which makes all the day's struggles and tasks easier. His hearty handshake puts a thrill of new vigour into your veins. After talking with him for a few minutes, you feel an exhilaration of spirits, a quickening of energy, a renewal of zest and interest in living, and are ready for any duty or service."


            "Great hearts there are among men," says Hillis, of Plymouth pulpit; they carry a volume of manhood; their presence is sunshine; their coming changes our climate; they oil the bearings of life; their shadow always falls behind them; they make right living easy. Blessed are the happiness-makers: they represent the best forces in civilisation!"


            If refined manners reprove us a little for ill-timed laughter, a smiling face kindled by a smiling heart is always in order. Who can ever forget Emerson's smile? It was a perpetual benediction upon all who knew him. A smile is said to be to the human countenance what sunshine is to the landscape. Or a smile is called the rainbow of the face.


            "This is a dark world to many people," says suggestive modern writer, "a world of chills, a world of fogs, a world of wet blankets. Nine-tenths of the men we meet need encouragement. Your work is so urgent that you have no time to stop and speak to the people, but every day you meet scores, perhaps hundreds and thousands of persons, upon whom you might have direct and immediate influence.


            ‘How? How?' you cry out. We answer: By the grace of physiognomy. There is nothing more catching than a face with a lantern behind it, shining clear through. We have no admiration for a face with a dry smile, meaning no more than the grin of a false face. But a smile written by the hand of God, as an index finger or table of contents, to whole volumes of good feeling within, is a benediction. You say: 'My face is hard and lacking in mobility, and my benignant feelings are not observable in the facial proportions.' We do not believe you. Freshness and geniality of the soul are so subtle and pervading that they will, at some eye or mouth corner, leak out. Set behind your face a feeling of gratitude to God and kindliness toward man, and you will every day preach a sermon long as the streets you walk, a sermon with as many heads as the number of people you meet, and differing from other surmons in the fact that the longer it is the better. The reason that there are so many sour faces, so many frowning faces, so many dull faces, is because men content to be acrid and petulant, and stupid. The way to improve your face is to improve your disposition. Attractiveness of physiognomy does not depend on regularity of features. We know persons whose brows are shaggy, eyes oblique, noses ominously longitudinal, and mouths straggling along in unusual and unexpected directions; and yet they are men and women of so much soul that we love to look upon them, and their faces are sweet evangelise."


            It was N. P. Willis, I think, who added to the beatitudes - "Blessed are the joy-makers." "And this is why all the world loves little children, who are always ready to have 'a sunshine party,' - little children bubbling over with fun, as a bobolink with song.


            "How well we remember it all! - The long gone years of our own childhood, and the households of joyous children we have known in later years. Joy-makers are the children still, - some of them in unending scenes of light. I saw but, yesterday this epitaph at Mount Auburn, - She was so pleasant': sunny-hearted in life, and now alive forever more in light supernal.


            "How can we then but rejoice with joy unspeakable, as the children of immortality; living habitually above the gloom and damps of earth, and leading lives of ministration; bestowing everywhere sweetness and light, - radiating upon the earth something of the beauty of the unseen world."


            What is a sunny temper but "a talisman more powerful than wealth, more precious than rubies"? What is it but "an aroma whose fragrance fills the air with the odours of Paradise"?


            "I am so full of happiness," said a little child, "that I could not be any happier unless I could grow." And she bade "Good morning" to her sweet singing bird, and "Good morning" to the sun; then she asked her mother's permission, and softly, reverently, gladly bade "Good morning to God," - and why should she not?

            Was it not Goethe who represented a journey that followed the sunshine round the world, forever bathed in light? And Longfellow sang:


                        "'T is always morning somewhere; and above
                        The awakening continents, from shore to shore,
                        Somewhere the birds are singing evermore."
                        "The darkness past, we mount the radiant skies,
                        And changeless day is ours, we hear the songs
                        And changeless day is ours, we hear the songs
                        Of higher spheres, the light divine our eyes
                        Behold and sunlight robes of countless throngs
                        Who dwell in light; we seek, with joyous quest.
                        God's service sweet to wipe all tears away,
                        And list we every hour, with eager zest,
                        For high command to toils that God has blest:
                        So fill we full our endless sunshine day."

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