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“I have a great lack of charity, that virtue which I feel should be exercised towards me. My own failings should teach me this. Prejudice and pride, too, form a part of my character. I am still sometimes cross and fretful, and I fear my temper is not at all improved. My own selfishness shocks me, sometimes.
• The only thing in which I have improved this past year, is that I have a greater desire to grow good, and I am more thoughtful and watchful. I have wept and prayed over these faults; and will they never be eradicated? Must I always endure this state of anxiety, this longing for pure feelings? I will persevere, for I know that He who has helped me so far, will continue his aid.
“How much reason I have to be thankful for my long illness and the moments of delighful intercourse with God which I then enjoyed, and how grateful ought I to be for being kept so long from the enticements which we are subject to, who mix with the world. But I have not improved it enough. How happy should I be if I had! I fear that when I am again well, all the impressions which my sickness has given me will vanish like a mist. Ungrateful shall I be if they do.
- This is what I am just at sixteen.”
A lady who was intimate with Mrs. Sumner says that she remembers talking with her one day about her son after he had received his injuries from Brooks, and saying, “How proud I should be if I had such a son!” “Yes,” was the reply, “but I tremble."
Speaking of the father, the lady said that he would sometimes buy tickets to lectures on useful subjects, and give them to his children, with the remark, “I shall be busy myself this evening, and I wish you, when you return, to give a correct account of what you hear.” In such ways he cultivated in them habits of attention, and the power of communicating what they knew.
The following letter, written by Mr. Sumner, just on the eve of his setting sail for Europe, in 1837, was addressed to one of his sisters, then a little girl. It reveals the future
66 MY DEAR
“I don't remember that I ever wrote you a letter. I feel confident, however, that your correspondence cannot be very extensive; and, therefore, I may flatter myself that what I write you will be read with attention, and, I trust, also, deposited in your heart. Before trusting myself to the sea, let me say a few words to you, which shall be my good by. I have often spoken to you of certain habits of personal care, which I will not here more particularly refer to than by asking you to remember all that I have told you, and to endeavor to follow my advice. I am very glad, my dear, to remember your cheerful countenance. I shall keep it in my mind, as I travel over the sea and land, and hope that when I return, I may still find its pleasant smile ready to greet me. Try never to cry. But, above all things, do not be obstinate or passionate. If you find your temper mastering you, always stop till you can count sixty, before you say or do anything. Let it be said of you that you are always amiable. Love your father and mother, and brothers and sisters, and all your friends;
cultivate an affectionate disposition. If you find that you can do anything which will add to the pleasure of your parents, or anybody else, be sure to do it.
Consider every opportunity of adding to the pleasure of others as of the highest importance, and do not be unwilling to sacrifice some enjoyment of your own, even some dear plaything, if, by doing so, you can promote the happiness of others. If you follow
. this advice, you will never be selfish or ungenerous, and everybody will love you. Besides this, my dear, always tell the truth. Nobody was ever hurt who told the truth;
while many who told falsehoods have been struck down, like Ananias and Sapphira, whose history you have undoubtedly read in the Acts of the Apostles. If you have ever done anything wrong, always tell of it at once, and your parents and God will forgive you; whereas, they never will if you try to conceal it, or tell a falsehood with regard to it.
• Study all the lessons given you at school, and when at home, in the time when you are tired of play, read some good books which will help to improve the mind. If you follow all this advice you will be amiable, good, and happy, and will contribute very much to the happiness of others. Let me know, on my return from Europe, that you have followed all my dull advice. I should feel grieved very much if I should understand that you had not followed it. If you will let Horace read this letter, it will do the same, perhaps, as one addressed to him, and perhaps he will follow my advice. Give my love to mother, and Mary, and the rest. 6. Your affectionate brother,
CHAS." “ ASTOR HOUSE, Dec. 7, 1837.”