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not in England many such days : in the few we have, there is a concentration of delight; of luxurious ecstasy in our sensations, which, if we had them always, we could scarcely feel or enjoy :-but this belongs not to my tale.
I was walking in such a place, at such a moment, when I observed a group of young people, busy, with no common earnestness, in making a bouquet of flowers from the wood. And much was the difficulty, and many were the dangers, they seemed disposed to encounter, to effect their purpose. If a honeysuckle, of fairer promise than those below, hung high upon the branches, long and patient were the contrivances to reach it, and great the destruction of muslin and riband that ensued. If a rose. bud of deeper red than usual was caught sight of many were the scratches endured to ravish the guarded treasure from its bed of thorns. And
presently they were on their kness in the herbage, in spite of sting-nettles and thistles, to steal some more hidden treasure: it might be the sweet violet, or the pretty myosotis. From the eagerness with which these beauties were collected, and the taste with which they were chosen, I supposed the bouquet was forming for some favourite purpose.
Casting my eyes at that moment on the ground, I saw, under my feet, a bed of small white flowers. They too had looked down upon it, and several times their feet had trodden over it—but they had not stooped to gather any. I picked a piece—the tiny stars that formed each separate flower, of the purest and most brilliant white, arranging themselves into a head, formed a group as rich as it was delicate. The thread-like stems that supported them, the circles round it of slender leaves, minutely cut and fringed, gave such elegance and lightness to the
whole, it seemed fitted to be the flower of fairyland. But a still greater charm was the exquisite perfume of the many blossoms—too delicate, like its beauty, to be perceived at a distance, but exquisite when approached. Perhaps because I was enamoured of its charms; perhaps because others had neglected and despised it, I left the rose among its thorns, and the woodbine on its heights, and gathered myself a bouquet of this small flower; contemplating its beauty, and feasting on its perfume, during the remainder of my walk. But my flowers died. The pure white took the hue of decay, and the perfume of the blossoms passed away. With still lingering attachment, I placed the withered branches in my work-box. As they dried there, they acquired the most delightful and refreshing scent, and became themselves a treasure-one carefully collected, I have been told, by ladies in other countries, to perfume their drawers. For weeks and months that mine remained there, I found no diminution of its sweetness.
Many a time since, as I have walked the paths of society, circumstances have called to memory my sweet woodroffe. Fenced with no thorns, armed with no stings, planted on no heights inaccessible; attainable without cost, and yet passed by; its beauty and its sweetness unperceived. And there is one thing in particular to which I have compared it. It is so despised a thing, that I scarcely know by what name I should call it, or if there is a name by which what I mean, will be exactly understood. I would call it good-nature, but, in the received language of society, a good-natured person means a fool—or, at best, a character that, having no prominence of fedture, good or bad, that can be seized upon; is dismissed with a sentence of harmless uselessness, under the appellation of good-nature. Good-temper is
not the thing I mean. I have seen most decidedly good tempers with a great deficiency of this quality; and I have seen it subsist where the temper, when put to trial, has proved by no means a good one. I have seen so much virtue, so much excellence, so much benevolence, subsist without it, and I have seen it pre-eminently exhibited among so much vice, that I am satisfied it is a virtue and a beauty of itself, independently of every other; and one too much neglected, and too much despised. For want of a better name, I will call it Good-humour. In the most common acceptation of words, when we say, a person is good-humoured I do not think it expresses what I mean; but when we say any one is in good humour, I think it does exactly. So let it be understood that, by good-humoured, I mean always in a good humour.
This plant, alas! is, not like my sweet woodroffe, indigenous in England. Whether by something in our physical formation, or by the influence of our skies, I fear it is an exotic with us, and must be cultivated with some diligence ere it will flourish. But that it will grow in England, I am sure: and that in every bosom swayed by Christian principles it ought to be implanted, if it is not indigenous, I am doubly sure. I have known too little of foreign society, to give it as my own observation ; but from all that may be learned otherwise than by personal intercourse, I do not understand that there is any other country, where people get out of humour gratuitously, and for nothing, as we do in England; and I am sure, if that is the case, it is no small inducement to seek the influence of fairer skies: for what with our own ill-humour, and other people's illhumour; half the pleasure of existence is destroyed : and what is worse, virtue, and piety, and truth,
lose half their charms :—man is injured, and God is offended.
I go into a family where there is nothing external to interrupt the happiness of its members, and nothing wanting that can essentially promote it: and I find every body as intent on making troubles, as if it were their misery to have none. At breakfast, peace is disturbed, and the blessing of abundance forgotten, because an egg is not boiled enough; though five minutes and hot water would soon boil it more. After breakfast, a walk or a ride is rendered thoroughly disagreeable, and the delights of scenery and sunshine disregarded; because no one will
say whether they prefer to go up hill or down; though it is evident all will be satisfied who have not their choice. At noon, every body begins to fret and grumble, because the day is so hot; which might be excused, if grumbling would cool it. At dinner, the gentleman is out of humour, because the window is open; whereas nothing can be more easy than to get up and shut it. The lady is out of humour, because the butcher has served beef instead of mutton ; though no one at table cares whether they eat mutton or beef. The daughter is out of humour, because she is sitting on the wrong side of the table ; though she had no reason on earth for preferring the other side, but because she is not sitting there. The boys are out of humour, because a shower prevents their going out; though, till it began, they had not discovered that they wished to go out. The servant is out of humour, because the bell has rung a second time before he has time to answer it the first.
The dogthe least unreasonable, as I think, of the party -is out of humour, because he has been kicked, and trodden upon, and scolded for being in the way,
when he might as well as not, have been put quietly out of the way.
The evening, in a family party of well-informed accomplished, and agreeable people, did they happen to be in a good humour, could not pass other
ise than pleasantly. But here every thing goes wrong. Mary is vexed because Sarah opens the instrument first. Sarah will not play, because Mary is vexed; and Mary will not play, for about the same reason ; and so neither plays. Jane cannot do her work, because Anne has lost her needle, though a hundred other needles were offered to her choice: neither can she quietly leave her work undone. When one takes up a book, another pronounces it rude, disagreeable, and unsociable, to read in company; though a full half an hour has passed since any one opened their lips. If one laughs, the other is sure to wonder what there is to laugh at: if one complains, the other is certain there can be nothing the matter. Whatever is praised, nobody else can see the merit of; though, if it had first been censured, some one would have found it all perfection. Now, it may be supposed this family are remarkably ill-natured. So far from it, there is not among them one who does not love the other most sincerely, or one who would hurt a hair of the other's head, to serve a selfish interest.
I go into another family where the hand of adversity presses hard: where unaccustomed penury has abridged the indulgences, and overhanging evil saddened the bosoms of its inmates. I see the fa. ther come home after a day of anxious exertion for his family: and instead of being greeted with cheer. fulness and smiles, to lighten his bosom of its cares, or at least to requite him for their endurance ; he finds nothing but superfluous ill-humour, and useless