Charlotte Bronte's life was short, her married life just a brief break in the clouds that had settled about her; but when they laid her beneath the snow in the churchyard, there stood by the grave a lonely woman who had been seduced and cast out, but loved and cherished by the gentle author, and another, a blind girl who begged neighbors to lead her over the wet, snowy roads that she might shed her tears over the grave of the woman who had been eyes to the blind. These two were but the representatives of a large class who had known the kindness of Charlotte Bronte.
God wanted a deliverer to lead the Negroes out of bondage, and for this work he called the kind and honest country lawyer from the black soil of Illinois. The youth who on a journey had seen a nest blown from the beach by the winds, and its helpless inmates scattered over the grass, and then growing anxious about the birds, walked back for several miles and put the nest high, where the serpents might not get at it, and the birds back into the nest, was father to the man who was to take a helpless, abused, despised race, and lift it to its feet, amid the execration of half a continent, and lead it out of the house of bondage.
Sometimes men are awakened out of mere creatural existense through the breath of kindness. Henry M. Stanley's early life is a story that moves the hardest heart. Never knowing his father, disowned by his mother, in the Asaph workhouse surrounded by misery and cruelty, he used to hear the lesson read from John 4:4, 7: "Little children, . . . love one another," and wondered what it meant. His childish heart was ready and yearning for love, but none gave love to him; and he began to think the sweetest parts of the Bible were wholly inapplicable to actual life. He had come, even at early years, to disbelieve in love.
Then one day the fugitive boy who had run away from the ship at New Orleans stood in front of a kind, grave gentleman who had taken him into his store and then into his home. The man took a basin of water, made the sign of the cross on his brow, gave him his own name, Henry M. Stanley, and then took him in his arms and kissed him. His senses whirled about him, and tears, which no amount of cruelty could ever have forced from him, poured in a torrent under the influence of that simple embrace. "The golden period of my life began from that supreme moment."
It is not Christian to do all that is expected of us. Unbelievers often do that. Christianity does more than that. A man in a hospital, just after a severe operation, asked his nurse to turn his pillow. She at once rearranged two pillows, and made him much more comfortable. As minute after minute and hour after hour dragged on, he noticed that whenever he asked the nurse for anything, she always did more than he asked: did it instantly and cheerily. Finally he asked her if she remembered what the Lord said about "going the second mile," and told her how gratefully he had noticed that she always went that second mile. And it meant so much, to a weak, suffering patient lying there in helplessness.—Sunday School Times.
If I had known in the morning
How wearily all the day
The word unkind
Would trouble my mind
I said when you went away,
I had been more careful, darling,
Nor given you needless pain,
But we vex "our own"
With look and tone
We may never take back again.
For though in the quiet evening
You may give me the kiss of peace,
Yet it might be
That never for me
The pain of the heart shall cease.
How many go forth in the morning
That never come home at night!
And hearts have broken
For harsh words spoken
That sorrow can ne'er set right.
We have careful thought for the stranger,
And smiles for the sometime guest;
But oft for "our own"
The bitter tone,
Though we love "our own" the best.
Ah, lips with the curve impatient!
Ah, brow with that look of scorn!
'Twere a cruel fate
Were the night too late
To undo the work of morn.—Selected.
Did you give him a lift? He's a poor needy man,
And bearing about all the burden he can.
Did you give him a smile? He was downcast and blue,
But a smile would have helped him to battle it through.
Did you give him a hand? He was slipping down hill,
And the world, so I fancied, was making him ill.
Did you give him a word? Did you show him the road?
Or did you just let him go on with his load?
Did you help him along? He's a sinner like you,
But the grasp of your hand might have carried him through.
Did you bid him good cheer? Just a word and a smile
Were what he most needed that last weary mile.
Do you know what he bore in that burden of cares
That is every man's load and that sympathy shares?
Did you try to find out what he needed from you?
Or did you just leave him to battle it through?
Do you know that it means to be losing the fight,
When a lift, just in time, might set everything right?
Do you know what it means—just the clasp of a hand,
When a man's borne about all a man ought to stand?
Did you ask what it was—why the quivering lip,
And the glistening tears down the pale cheek that slip?
Were you brother of his when the time came to be?
Did you offer to help him, or didn't you see?
Don't you know it's the part of a Christian man
To find out what the grief is and help where you can?
Did you stop when he asked you to give him a lift?
Or were you so busy that you left him to shift?
Ah, I know that what you say may really be true,
But the test of your life is: What did you do?—Selected.