This title best fits Victoria, the true queen of the world, but it fits
her best because she is the best type of a noble wife, the queen of her
husband's heart, and of a queen mother whose children rise up and call her
"I noticed," said Franklin, "a mechanic, among a number of others, at
work on a house a little way from my office, who always appeared to be in a
merry humour; he had a kind word and smile for every one he met. Let the day be
ever so cold, gloomy, or sunless, a happy smile danced on his cheerful
countenance. Meeting him one morning, I asked him to tell me the secret of his
constant flow of spirits.
"'It is no secret, doctor,' he replied. 'I have one of the best of wives;
and, when I go to work, she always has a kind word of encouragement for me; and,
when I go home, she meets me with a smile and a kiss; and then tea is sure to be
ready, and she has done so many little things through the day to please me that
I cannot find it in my heart to speak an unkind word to anybody.'"
Some of the happiest homes I have ever been in, ideal homes, where
intelligence, peace, and harmony dwell, have been homes of poor people. No rich
carpets covered the floors; there were no costly paintings on the walls, no
piano, no library, no works of art. But there were contented minds, devoted and
unselfish lives, each contributing as much as possible to the happiness of all,
and endeavouring to compensate by intelligence and kindness for the poverty of
their surroundings. One cheerful, bright, and contented spirit in a household
will uplift the tone of all the rest. The keynote of the home is in the hand of
the resolutely cheerful member of the family, and he or she will set the pitch
for the rest."
"Young men," it is said, "are apt to be over bearing, imperious, brusque
in their manner; they need that suavity of manner, and urbanity of demeanour,
gracefulness of expression and delicacy of manner, which can only be gained by
association with the female character, which possesses the delicate instinct,
ready judgement, acute perceptions, wonderful intuition. The blending of the
male and female characteristics produces the grandest character in each.
The woman who has what Helen Hunt so aptly called "a genius for
affection," - she, indeed, is queen of the home. "I have often had occasion",
said Washington Irving, "to remark the fortitude with which woman sustains the
most overwhelming reverses of fortune. Those disasters which break down the
spirit of a man, and prostrate him in the dust, seem to call forth all the
energies of the softer sex, and give such intrepidity and elevation to their
character that at times it approaches sublimity."
If a wife cannot make her home bright and happy, so that it shall be the
cleanest, sweetest, cheer fullest place her husband can find refuge in, - a
retreat from the toils and troubles of the outer world, - then God help the poor
man, for he is virtually homeless. "Home-keeping hearts," said Longfellow, "are
happiest." What is a good wife, a good mother? Is she not a gift out of heaven,
sacred and delicate, with affections so great that no measuring line short of
that of the infinite God can tell their bound; fashioned to refine and soothe
and lift and irradiate home and society and the world; of such value that no one
can appreciate it, unless his mother lived long enough to let him understand it,
or unless, in some great crisis of life, when all else failed him, he had a wife
to re-enforce him with a faith in God that nothing could disturb?
Nothing can be more delightful than an anecdote of Joseph H. Choate, of
New York, our Minister at the Court of St. James. Upon being asked, at a dinner
party, who he would prefer to be if he could not be himself, he hesitated a
moment, apparently running over in his mind the great ones on earth, when his
eyes rested on Mrs. Choate at the other end of the table, who was watching him
with great interest in her face, and suddenly replied, "If I could not be
myself, I should like to be Mrs. Choate's second husband."
"Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the
bones." It is the little disputes, little fault-findings, little insinuations,
little reflections, sharp criticisms, fretfulness and impatience, little
unkindness, slurs, little discourtesies, bad temper, that create most of the
discord and unhappiness in the family. How much it would add to the glory of the
homes of the world if that might be said of every one which Rogers said of Lord
Holland's sunshiny face: "He always comes to breakfast like a man upon whom some
sudden good fortune has fallen”!
The value of pleasant words every day, as you go along, is well depicted
by Aunt Jerusha in what she said to our genial friend of Zion's Herald": -
"If folks could have their funerals when they are alive and well and
struggling along, what a help it would be”! she sighed, upon returning from a
funeral, wondering how poor Mrs. Brown would have felt if she could have heard
what the minister said. "Poor soul, she never dreamed they set so much by her!
"Miss' Brown got discouraged. Ye see, Deacon Brown, he'd got a way of
blaming everything on to her. I don't suppose the deacon meant it, - 't was just
his way, - but it's awful wearing. When things wore out or broke, he acted just
as if Miss' Brown did it herself on purpose; and they all caught it, like the
measles or the whooping cough.
"And the minister a-telling how the deacon brought his young wife here
when 't wa' n't nothing but a wilderness, and how patiently she bore hardship,
and what a good wife she'd been! Now the minister wouldn't have known anything
about that if the deacon hadn't told him. Dear! Dear! If he'd only told Miss'
Brown herself what he thought, do believe he might have saved the funeral.
"And when the minister said how the children would miss their mother,
seemed as though they couldn't stand it, poor things!
"Well, I guess it is true enough, - Miss' Brown was always doing for some
of them. When they was singing about sweet rest in heaven, I couldn't help
thinking that that was something Miss' Brown would have to get used to, for she
never had none of it here.
"She'd have been awful pleased with the flowers. They were pretty, and no
mistake. Ye see, the deacon wa' n't never willing for her to have a flower-bed.
He said 't was enough prettier sight to see good cabbages a-growing; but Miss'
Brown always kind of hankered after sweet-smelling things, like roses and such.
"What did you say, Levi ? 'Most time for supper? Well, land's sake, so it
is! I must have got to meditating. I' ve been a-thinking, Levi you needn't tell
the minister anything about me. If the pancakes and pumpkin pies are good, you
just say so as we go along. It ain't best to keep everything laid up for
It is the grand secret of a happy home to press the affection you really
"He is the happiest," it was said by Goethe, "be he king or peasant, who
finds peace in his home." There are indeed many serious, too serious-minded
fathers and mothers who do not wish to advertise their children to all the
neighbours as "the laughing family." If this be so, yet, at the very least,
these solemn parents may read the Bible. Where it is said, "provoke not your
children to wrath," it means literally, "do not irritate your children;" "do not
rub them up the wrong way.
Children ought never to get the impression, that they live in a hopeless
cheerless, cold world; but the household cheerfulness should, transform their
lives like sunlight, making their hearts glad with little things, rejoicing upon
"How beautiful would our home-life be if every little child at the
bed-time hour could look into the faces of the older ones and say: 'We've had
such sweet times to-day.'"
"To love, and to be loved," says Sydney Smith, "is the greatest happiness
Dining one day with Baron James Rothschild, Eugene Delacroix, the famous
French artist, confessed that, during some time past, he had vainly sought for a
head to serve as a model for that of a beggar in a picture which he was
painting; and that, as he gazed at his host's features, the idea suddenly
occurred to him that the very head he desired was before him. Rothschild, being
a great lover of art, readily consented to sit as the beggar. The next day, at
the studio, Delacroix placed a tunic around the baron's shoulders, put a stout
staff in his hand, and made him pose as if he were resting on the steps of an
ancient Roman temple. In this attitude he was found by one of the artist's
favourite pupils, in a brief absence of the master from the room. The youth
naturally concluded that the beggar had just been brought in, and with a
sympathetic look quietly slipped a piece of money into his hand. Rothschild
thanked him simply, pocketed the money, and the student passed out. Rothschild
then inquired of the master, and found that the young man had talent, but very
slender means. Soon after, the youth received a letter stating that charity
bears interest, and that the accumulated interest on the amount he had given to
one he supposed to be a beggar was represented by the sum of ten thousand
francs, which was awaiting his claim at the Rothschild office.
This illustrates well the art of cheerful amusement even if one has great
business cares, - the entertainment of the artist, the personation of a beggar,
and an act of beneficence toward a worthy student.
It illustrates, too, what was said by Wilhelm von Humboldt, that "it is
worthy of special remark that when we are not too anxious about happiness and
unhappiness, but devote ourselves to the strict and unsparing performance of
duty, then happiness comes of itself." We carry each day nobly, doing the duty
or enjoying the privilege of the moment, without thinking whether or not it will
make us happy. This is quite in accord with the saying of George Herbert, "The
consciousness of duty performed gives us music at midnight."
Are not buoyant spirits like water sparkling when it runs? "I have found
my greatest happiness in labour," said Gladstone. "I early formed a habit of
industry, and it has been its own reward. The young are apt to think that rest
means a cessation from all effort, but I have found the most perfect rest in
changing effort. If brain-weary over books and study, go out into the blessed
sunlight and the pure air, and give heart-felt exercise to the body. The brain
will soon become calm and rested. The efforts of Nature are ceaseless. Even in
our sleep the heart throbs on. I try to live close to Nature, and to imitate her
in my labours. The compensation is sound sleep, a wholesome digestion, and
powers that are kept at their best; and this, I take it, is the chief reward of
"Owing to ingrained habits," said Horaoc Mann, "work has always been to
me what water is to a fish. I have wondered a thousand times to hear people say,
'I don't like this business, or 'I wish I could exchange it for that;' for with
me, when I have had anything to do, I do not remember ever to have demurred, but
have always set about it like a fatalist, and it was as sure to be done as the
sun was to set."
"One's personal enjoyment is a very small thing, but one's personal
usefulness is a very important thing." Those only are happy who have their minds
fixed on some object other than their own happiness. "The most delicate, the
most sensible of all pleasures," says La Bruyere, "consists in promoting the
pleasures of others." And Hawthorne has said that the inward pleasures of
imparting pleasure is the choicest of all.
"Oh, it is great," said Carlyle, "and there is no other greatness, - to
make some nook of God's creation more fruitful, better, more worthy of God, - to
make some human heart a little wiser, manlier, happier, more blessed, less
accursed!" The gladness of service, of having some honour able share in the
world's work, what is better than this?
"The Lord must love the common people," said Lincoln, "for he made so
many of them and so few of the other kind." To extend to all the cup of joy is
indeed angelic business, and there is nothing that makes one more beautiful than
to be engaged in it.
"The high desire that others may be blest savours of heaven."
The memory of those who spend their days in hanging sweet pictures of
faith and trust in the galleries of sunless lives shall never perish from the
"This," said Charles Lamb, "is the greatest pleasure I know." "Money
never yet made a man happy," said Franklin; "and there is nothing in its nature
to produce happiness." To do good with it, makes life a delight to the giver.
How happy, then, was the life of Jean Ingelow, since what she received from the
sale of a hundred thousand copies of her poems, and fifty thousand of her prose
works, she spent largely in charity; one unique charity being a "copyright"
dinner three times a week to twelve poor persons just discharged from the
neighbouring hospitals! Nor was any one made happier by it than the poet.
John Ruskin inherited a million dollars. "With this money he set about
doing good," says a writer in the "Arena." "Poor young men and women who were
struggling to get an education were helped, homes for working men and women were
established, and model apartment houses were erected. He also promoted a work
for reclaiming wasteland outside of London. This land was used for the aid of
unfortunate men who wished to rise again from the state in which they had fallen
through cruel social conditions and their own weakness. It is said that this
work suggested to General Booth his colonisation farms. Ruskin has also ever
been liberal in aiding poor artists, and has done much to encourage artistic
taste among the young. On one occasion he purchased ten fine watercolour
paintings by Holman Hunt for $3,750, to be hung in the public schools of London.
By 1877 he had disposed of three-fourths of his inheritance, besides all the
income from his books. But the calls of the poor, and his plans looking toward
educating and ennobling the lives of working men, giving more sunshine and joy,
were such that he determined to dispose of all the remainder of his wealth
except a sum sufficient to yield him $1,500 a year on which to live."
Our own Peter Cooper, in his last days, was one of the happiest men in
America; his beneficence shone in his countenance.
Let the man who has the blues take a map and census table of the world,
and estimate how many millions there are who would gladly exchange lots with
him, and let him begin upon some practicable plan to do all the good he can to
as many as he can, and he will forget to be despondent; and he need not stop
short at praying for them without first giving every dollar he can, without
troubling the Lord about that. Let him scatter his flowers as he goes along,
since he will never go over the same road again.
No man in England had a better time than did Du Maurier on that cold day
when he took the hat of an old soldier on Hampstead road, and sent him away to
the soup kitchen in Euston to get warm. The artist chalked on a blackboard such
portraits as he commonly made for "Punch," and soon gathered a great quantity of
small coins for the grateful soldier; who, however, at once rubbed out Du
Maurier's pictures ant put on "the faithful dog," and a battle scene, as more
"Chinese Gordon," after serving faithfully and valiantly in the great
Chinese rebellion, and receiving the highest honours of the Chinese Empire,
returned to England, caring little for the praise thus heaped on him. He took
some position at Gravesend, just below London, where he filled his house with
boys from the streets, whom he taught and made men of, and then secured them
places on ships, - following them all over the world with letters of advice and