God made both tears and laughter, and both for kind purposes; for as laughter enables mirth and surprise to breathe freely, so tears enable sorrow to vent itself patiently. Tears hinder sorrow from becoming despair and madness; and laughter is on top of the very privileges of reason, being confined to the human species.
I have always preferred cheerfulness to mirth. The former is an act, the latter a habit of the mind. Mirth is short and transient; cheerfulness, fixed and permanent. Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment. Cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, filling it with a steady and perpetual serenity.
As for the passions and studies of the mind: avoid envy; anxious fears; anger fretting inwards; subtle and knotty inquisitions; joys and exhilarations in excess; sadness not communicated. Entertain hopes; mirth rather than joy; variety of delights, rather than surfeit of them; wonder and admiration, and therefore novelties; studies that fill the mind with splendid and illustrious objects, as histories, fables, and contemplations of nature.
God made both tears and laughter, and both for kind purposes; for as laughter enables mirth and surprise to breathe freely, so tears enable sorrow to vent itself patiently. Tears hinder sorrow from becoming despair and madness.
I, the ocean of mind, drink all creation’s waves. The four veils of solid, liquid, vapor, light, Lift aright. Myself, in everything, Enters the Great Myself. Gone forever, The fitful, flickering shadows of a mortal memory. Spotless is my mental sky, Below, ahead, and high above. Eternity and I, one united ray. I, a tiny bubble of laughter, Have become the Sea of Mirth Itself.
Only in the theatre was it possible to see the performers and to be warmed by their personal charm, to respond to their efforts and to feel their response to the applause and appreciative laughter of the audience. It had an intimate quality; audience and actors conspired to make a little oasis of happiness and mirth within the walls of the theatre. Try as we will, we cannot be intimate with a shadow on a screen, nor a voice from a box.
The world produces for every pint of honey a gallon of gall, for every dram of pleasure a pound of pain, for every inch of mirth an ell of moan; and as the ivy twines around the oak, so does misery and misfortune encompass the happy man. Felicity, pure and unalloyed felicity, is not a plant of earthly growth; her gardens are the skies.
Behold the father is his daughter's son, The bird that built the nest is hatched therein, The old of years an hour hath not outrun, Eternal life to live doth now begin, The Word is dumb, the mirth of heaven doth weep, Might feeble is, and force doth faintly creep. O dying souls, behold your living spring; O dazzled eyes, behold your sun of grace; Dull ears, attend what word this Word doth bring; Up, heavy hearts, with joy your joy embrace. From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs This life, this light, this Word, this joy repairs. Gift better than himself God doth not know; Gift better than his God no man can see. This gift doth here the giver given bestow; Gift to this gift let each receiver be. God is my gift, himself he freely gave me; God's gift am I, and none but God shall have me. Man altered was by sin from man to beast; Beast's food is hay, hay is all mortal flesh. Now God is flesh and lies in manger pressed As hay, the brutest sinner to refresh. O happy field wherein that fodder grew, Whose taste doth us from beasts to men renew.
Generations are as the days of toilsome mankind; death and birth are the vesper and the matin bells that summon mankind to sleep and to rise refreshed for new advancement. What the father has made, the son can make and enjoy; but has also work of his own appointed him. Thus all things wax and roll onwards: arts, establishments, opinions, nothing is ever completed, but ever completing.
And ye, who have met with Adversity's blast, And been bow'd to the earth by its fury; To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass'd Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury — Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime, The regrets of remembrance to cozen, And having obtained a New Trial of Time, Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.
Fresh from the dewy hill, the merry year Smiles on my head and mounts his flaming car; Round my young brows the laurel wreathes a shade, And rising glories beam around my head. My feet are wing’d, while o’er the dewy lawn, I meet my maiden risen like the morn: O bless those holy feet, like angels’ feet; O bless those limbs, beaming with heav’nly light. Like as an angel glitt’ring in the sky In times of innocence and holy joy; The joyful shepherd stops his grateful song To hear the music of an angel’s tongue. So when she speaks, the voice of Heaven I hear; So when we walk, nothing impure comes near; Each field seems Eden, and each calm retreat; Each village seems the haunt of holy feet. But that sweet village where my black-eyed maid Closes her eyes in sleep beneath night’s shade, Whene’er I enter, more than mortal fire Burns in my soul, and does my song inspire.
The Couch of Death - The veiled evening walked solitary down the western hills, and Silence reposed in the valley; the birds of day were heard in their nests, rustling in brakes and thickets; and the owl and bat flew round the darkening trees: all is silent when Nature takes her repose.—In former times, on such an evening, when the cold clay breathed with life, and our ancestors, who now sleep in their graves, walked on the steadfast globe, the remains of a family of the tribes of Earth, a mother and a sister, were gathered to the sick bed of a youth. Sorrow linked them together; leaning on one another’s necks alternately—like lilies dropping tears in each other’s bosom—they stood by the bed like reeds bending over a lake, when the evening drops trickle down. His voice was low as the whisperings of the woods when the wind is asleep, and the visions of Heaven unfold their visitation. ‘Parting is hard and death is terrible; I seem to walk through a deep valley, far from the light of day, alone and comfortless! The damps of death fall thick upon me! Horrors stare me in the face! I look behind, there is no returning; Death follows after me; I walk in regions of Death, where no tree is, without a lantern to direct my steps, without a staff to support me.’ Thus he laments through the still evening, till the curtains of darkness were drawn. Like the sound of a broken pipe, the aged woman raised her voice. ‘O my son, my son, I know but little of the path thou goest! But lo! there is a God, who made the world; stretch out thy hand to Him.’ The youth replied, like a voice heard from a sepulchre, ‘My hand is feeble, how should I stretch it out? My ways are sinful, how should I raise mine eyes? My voice hath used deceit, how should I call on Him who is Truth? My breath is loathsome, how should He not be offended? If I lay my face in the dust, the grave opens its mouth for me; if I lift up my head, sin covers me as a cloak. O my dear friends, pray ye for me! Stretch forth your hands that my Helper may come! Through the void space I walk, between the sinful world and eternity! Beneath me burns eternal fire! O for a hand to pluck me forth!’ As the voice of an omen heard in the silent valley, when the few inhabitants cling trembling together; as the voice of the Angel of Death, when the thin beams of the moon give a faint light, such was this young man’s voice to his friends. Like the bubbling waters of the brook in the dead of night, the aged woman raised her cry, and said, ‘O Voice, that dwellest in my breast, can I not cry, and lift my eyes to Heaven? Thinking of this, my spirit is turned within me into confusion! O my child, my child, is thy breath infected? so is mine. As the deer wounded, by the brooks of water, so the arrows of sin stick in my flesh; the poison hath entered into my marrow.’ Like rolling waves upon a desert shore, sighs succeeded sighs; they covered their faces and wept. The youth lay silent, his mother’s arm was under his head; he was like a cloud tossed by the winds, till the sun shine, and the drops of rain glisten, the yellow harvest breathes, and the thankful eyes of the villagers are turned up in smiles. The traveller, that hath taken shelter under an oak, eyes the distant country with joy. Such smiles were seen upon the face of the youth: a visionary hand wiped away his tears, and a ray of light beamed around his head. All was still. The moon hung not out her lamp, and the stars faintly glimmered in the summer sky; the breath of night slept among the leaves of the forest; the bosom of the lofty hill drank in the silent dew, while on his majestic brow the voice of Angels is heard, and stringed sounds ride upon the wings of night. The sorrowful pair lift up their heads, hovering Angels are around them, voices of comfort are heard over the Couch of Death, and the youth breathes out his soul with joy into eternity.