It is probably quite within bounds to say that one out of three of our
American farming population, women and men, never enjoy a beautiful day without
first reminding you that "It is one of those infernal weather breeders."
Habitual fretters see more trouble than others. They are never so well as
their neighbours. The weather never suits them. The climate is trying. The winds
are too high or too low; it is too hot or too cold, too damp or too dry. The
roads are either muddy or dusty.
"I met Mr. N. one wet morning," says Dr. John Todd; "and bound as I was
to make the best of it, I ventured:
"'Good morning. This rain will be fine for your grass crop.'
"'Yes, perhaps,' he replied, but it is very bad for corn; I don't think
we'll have half a crop.'
"A few days later, I met him again. 'This is a fine sun for corn, Mr. N.'
"'Yes,' said he, 'but it 's awful for rye; rye wants cold weather.'
"One cool morning soon after, I said: 'This is a capital day for rye.'"'Yes,' he said, 'but it is the worst kind of weather for corn and grass; they want heat to bring them forward."'
There are a vast number of fidgety, nervous, and eccentric people who
live only to expect new disappointments or to recount their old ones.
"Impatient people," said Spurgeon, "water their miseries, and hoe up
"'Let's see," said a neighbour to a farmer, whose wagon was loaded down
with potatoes, "were not we talking together last August?" "I believe so." "At
that time, you said corn was all burnt up." "Yes." "And potatoes were baking in
the ground." "Yes." "And that your district could not possibly expect more than
half a crop." "I remember." "Well here you are with your wagon loaded down.
Things didn't turn out so badly, after all, - eh?" "Well, no-o." said the
farmer, as he raked his fingers through his hair, "but I tell you my geese
suffered awfully for want of a mud hole to paddle in."
What is a pessimist but "a man who looks on the sun only as a thing that
casts a shadow" ?
In Pepys's " "Diary" we learn the difference between "eyes shut and ears
open," and "ears shut and eyes open." In going from John o Groat's House to
Land's End, a blind man would hear that the country was going to destruction,
but a doaf man with eyes open could see great prosperity. "I dare no more fret
than curse or swear," said John Wesley.
"Why should a man whose blood is warm within
Who are the "lemon squeezers of society”? They are people who predict
evil, extinguish hope, and see only the worst side, - "people whose very look
curdles the milk and sets your teeth on edge." They are often worthy people who
think that pleasure is wrong; people, said an old divine, who lead us heavenward
and stick pins into us all the way. They say depressing things and do
disheartening things; they chill prayer meetings, discourage charitable
institutions, injure commerce, and kill churches; they are blowing out lights
when they ought to be kindling them.
A man without mirth is like a wagon without springs in which one jolts
over every pebble; with mirth, he is like a chariot with springs, riding over
the roughest roads and scarcely feeling anything but a pleasant rocking motion.
"Difficulties melt away before the man who carries about a cheerful
spirit and persistently refuses to be discouraged, while they accumulate before
the one who is always groaning over his hard luck and scanning the horizon for
clouds not yet in sight."
"To one man," says Schopenhauer, "the world is barren, dull, and
superficial; to another, rich, interesting, and full of meaning." If one loves
beauty and looks for it, he will see it wherever he goes. If there is music in
his soul, he will hear it everywhere; every object in nature will sing to him.
Two men who live in the same house and do the same work may not live in the same
world. Although they are under the same roof, on may see only deformity and
ugliness; to him the world is out of joint, everything is cross-grained and out
of sorts: the other is surrounded with beauty and harmony; everybody is kind to
him; nobody wishes him harm. These men see the same objects, but they do not
look through the same glasses; one looks through a smoked glass, which drapes
the whole world in mourning, the other looks through rose-colored lenses which
tint everything with loveliness and touch it with beauty.
Take two persons just home from a vacation. One has positively seen
nothing, and has always been robbed; the landlady was a harpy, the bedroom was
unhealthy, and the mutton was tough. The other has always found the cosiest
nooks, the cheapest houses, the best landladies, the finest views, and the best
This is the question a farmer's boy asked of his father.
John," replied his father, "you know I can't give ye the dictionary meanin' of
that word any more 'n I can of a great many others. But I 've got a kind of an
idea what it means. Probably you don't remember your Uncle Henry, but I guess if
there ever was an optimist, he was one. Things was always comin' out right with
Henry, and especially anything hard that he had to do; it wa' n't a-goin' to be
hard, 't was jest kind of solid-pleasant.
"Take hoein' corn, now. If anything ever tuckered me out, 't was hoein'
corn in the hot sun. But in the field, 'long about the time I begun to lag back
a little, Henry he'd look up an' say: -
"'Good, Jim ! When we get these two rows hoed, an' eighteen more, the
piece 'll be half done.' An' he 'd say it in such a kind of a cheerful way that
I could n't 'a' ben any more tickled if the piece had been all done, - an' the
rest would go light enough.
"But the worst thing we had to do - hoem corn was a picnic to it - was
pickin' stones. There was no end to that on our old farm, if we wanted to raise
anything. When we wa' n't hurried and pressed with something else, there was
always pickin' stones to do, and there wa' n't a plowin' but what brought up a
fresh crop, an' seems as if the pickin' had all to be done over again.
"Well, you 'd' a' thought, to hear Henry, that there wa' n't any fun in
the world like pickin' stones. He looked at it in a different way from anybody I
ever see. Once, when the corn was all hold, and the grass wa' n't fit to cut
yet, an I 'd got all laid out to go fishin', and father he up and set us to
pickin' stones up on the west piece, an' I was about ready to cry, Henry he
"'Come on, Jim. I know where there's lots of nuggets.'
"An' what do you s'pose, now? That boy had a kind of a game that that
there field was what he called a plasser mining field, and he got me into it,
and I could 'a' sworn I was in California all day, - I had such a good time.
"'Only,' says Henry, after we 'd got through the day's work, 'the way you
get rich with these nuggets is to get rid of them, instead of to get 'em.'
"That somehow did n't strike my fancy, but we 'd had play instead of work,
anyway, an' a great lot of stones had been rooted out of that field.
"An', as I said before. I can't give ye any dictionary definition of
optimism; but if your Uncle Henry wa' n't an optimist, I don't know what one
At life's outset, says one, a cheerful optimistic temperament is worth
everything. A cheerful man, who always "feels first-rate," who always looks on
the bright side, who is ever ready to snatch victory from defeat, is the
Everybody avoids the company of those who are always grumbling, who are
full of "ifs" and "buts," and "I told you so's." We like the man who always
looks toward the sun, whether it shines or not. It is the cheerful, hopeful man
we go to for sympathy and assistance; not the carping, gloomy critic, - who
always thinks it is going to rain, and that we are going to have a terribly hot
summer, or a careful thunderstorm, or who is forever complaining of hard times
and his hard lot. It is the bright, cheerful, hopeful, contented man who makes
his way, who is respected and admired.
Gloom and depression not only take much out of life, but detract greatly
from the chances of winning success. It is the bright and cheerful spirit that
wins the final triumph.
"I see our brother, who has just sat down, lives on Grumbling Street,"
said a keen-witted Yorkshireman. "I lived there myself for some time, and never
enjoyed good health. The air was bad, the house bad, the water bad, the birds
never came and sang in the street, and I was gloomy and sad enough. But I
'fitted.' I got into Thanksgiving Avenue; and ever since then I have had good
health, and so have all my family. The air is pure, the house good; the sun
shines on it all day; the birds are always singing; and I am happy as I can
live. Now, I recommend our brother to 'flit.' There are plenty of houses to let
on Thanksgiving avenue, and he will find himself a new man if he will only come;
and I shall be right glad to have him for a neighbour."
This world was not intended for a "vale of tears," but as a sweet Vale of
Content. Travellers are told by the Icelanders, who live amid the cold and
desolation of almost perpetual winter, that Iceland is the best land the sun
shines upon." "In the long Arctic night, the Eskimo is blithe, and carolsome,
far from the approach of the white man; while amid the glorious scenery and
Eden-like climate of Central America, the native languages have a dozen words
for pain and misery and sorrow, for one with any cheerful signification."
When a Persian king was directed by his wise men to wear the shirt of a
contented man, the only contented man in the kingdom had no shirt. The most
contented man in Boston does not live on Commonwealth avenue or do business on
State street: he is poor and blind, and he peddles needles and thread, buttons
and sewing-room supplies, about the streets of Boston from house to house. Dr.
Minot J. Savage used to pity this man very much, and once in venturing to talk
with him about his condition, he was utterly amazed to find that the man was
perfectly happy. He said that he had a faithful wife, and a business by which he
earned sufficient for his wants; and, if he were to complain of his lot, he
should feel mean and contemptible. Surely, if there are any "solid men" in
Boston, he is one.
Content is the magic lamp, which, according to the beautiful picture
painted for us by Goethe, transforms the rude fisherman's hut into a palace of
silver; the logs, the floors, the roof, the furniture, everything being changed
and gleaming with new light.