« PreviousContinue »
stones, lest they should throw any body down; knocked at a door for a gentleman on horseback; put her little hand between some iron
palisades for a sixpence which had rolled there, belonging to a porter who could not get his great hand between the iron bars; and picked up a child in petticoats that had fallen down on the pavement. Little Mary Wood had managed to perform at least half a dozen acts of kindness.
Thomas. I think it is time to begin to learn to act.
Mr. F. Life is so uncertain, that the youngest of
you in learning to act has no time to lose. When we begin a thing there is some likelihood that we may go on with it; but, until then, a hundred things may prevent our entering upon it at all.
M. Well, we have begun to learn to act, that is one good thing; and I hope now we shall
Mr. F. It is said that a youthful farmer, who had made up his mind to plant an orchard, put it off for a time. Days, weeks, months, and
years rolled over his head, but not a twig was planted; at last he fell sick, and was confined to his bed, and then he had something else to think of. For years and years he went on getting better and worse by turns, but never found another opportunity of planting his orchard. E. Ay! he should never have put it off.
Mr. F. Another young farmer, a friend of his, who had formed the same design, acted in a different manner, for he set about it at
T. Yes, that was the right way.
Mr. F. Both the farmers lived to be old men, but with this difference, that the one was always rejoicing in the fruit trees he had planted in the days of his youth, while the other was always lamenting that he had put off an excellent design. You have not forgotten, I hope, the qualities most
necessary to enable you to do kind and useful acts: they are kind intentions, self-possession, knowledge, prudence, promptitude, patience, and perseverance
of these qualities I shall have to remind you frequently.
E. I remember them all.
essary to make some preparation in most undertakings, and therefore, though you may all do kind actions, you must be prepared, before you can generally act with advantage. We must go on by degrees. Some people are in such a hurry, that they would sow the ground without ploughing it, and cook a fowl without plucking from it a single feather, but we must not be among the number.
In the midst of the general commotion among the young people, who here began laughing and talking together, Mr. Franklin made his escape, pursued to the door by Edward and Mary, the one asserting that he did not intend to leave the ground unploughed, and the other stoutly maintaining that she never thought, for a moment, of cooking the fowl unplucked.
HOW TO OBTAIN SELF-POSSESSION.
The young people, understanding that their papa would join them in the back parlour, took their seats there, and, in two or three minutes, heard the sound of Mr. Franklin's crutches approaching the door.
There is something in the very infirmities of those we love, that seems to endear them to us.
We think of them more tenderly, and are anxious to pay them more attention than if they were in robust health, and had the full use of all their faculties. This was just the feeling of the young people towards their father. All of them were on the watch to wait upon him, on account of his lameness; and there was not one among them who would not have sprung forward to prevent his feeling the least inconvenience. Mr. Franklin was quite alive to the affection his children bore him, and his love to them was thereby increased.
“ And now," said Mr. Franklin, entering the room; advancing to the chair at the end of the table, and handing his crutches to his son Edward, who placed them in the corner
“and now," said he, taking his seat, “all attention. You have heard, in the example
of little Mary Wood, that the simplest child may perform kind acts. As, however, you extend your knowledge, your power to do kind acts will be much increased. I have already told you that the qualities most necessary to enable you to act properly in passing through the world, are kind intentions, self-possession, knowledge, prudence, promptitude, patience, and perseverance; and, as the most skilfuí workman cannot work without tools, neither can you act properly without these qualities.”
Edward. Yes; these qualities must be our tools.
Mr. Franklin. Exactly so; and therefore, if you have them not, you must be diligent to obtain them. It will be quite necessary, then, for you to study with care the two books you have read—“Learning to Think," and « Learning to Feel:” as they will put you in the way of Learning to Act” more easily,
Mary. But, papa, I understand that thinking may help us in getting knowledge, and that proper feelings will make us desire to do good; but how are we to get self-possession ? If any sudden alarm puts me in a flurry, how am I to get the better of it?
Mr. F. Self-possession is not expected to direct people how they are to act in a flurry, but rather to prevent that flurry from taking place.
M. Well, then, papa, how am I to get selfpossession?