What All the World’s A-Seeking

And do you know the influence of this life in the moulding of the features, that it gives the highest beauty that can dwell there, the beauty that comes from within,–the _soul beauty_, so often found in the paintings of the old masters. _True beauty must come, must be grown, from, within_. That outward veneering, which is so prevalent, can never be even a poor imitation of this type of the true, the genuine. To appreciate fully the truth of this, it is but necessary to look for a moment at that beautiful picture by Sant, the “Soul’s Awakening,” a face that grows more beautiful each time one looks at it, and that one never tires of looking at, and compare with it the fractional parts of apothecary shops we see now and then–or so often, to speak more truly–on the streets. A face of this higher type carries with it a benediction wherever it goes.

A beautiful little incident came to my notice not long ago. It was a very hot and dusty day. The passengers on the train were weary and tired. The time seemed long and the journey cheerless. A lady with a face that carries a benediction to all who see her entered the car with a little girl, also of that type of beauty that comes from within, and with a voice musical, sweet, and sparkling, such as also comes from this source.

The child, when they were seated, had no sooner spoken a few words before she began to enlist the attention of her fellow-passengers. She began playing peek-a-boo with a staid and dignified old gentleman in the seat behind her. He at first looked at her over his spectacles, then lowered his paper a little, then a little more, and a little more. Finally, he dropped it altogether, and, apparently forgetting himself and his surroundings, became oblivious to everything in the fascinating pleasure he was having with the little girl. The other passengers soon found themselves following his example. All papers and books were dropped. The younger folks gave way to joyous laughter, and all seemed to vie with each other in having the honor of receiving a word or a smile from the little one.

The dust, the heat, the tired, cheerless feelings were all forgotten; and when these two left the car, the little girl waving them good-by, instinctively, as one person, all the passengers waved it to her in return, and two otherwise dignified gentlemen, leaving their seats, passed over to the other side, and looked out of the window to see her as long as they could. Something as an electrical spark seemed to have passed through the car. All were light-hearted and happy now; and the conditions in the car, compared to what they were before these two entered, would rival the work of the stereopticon, so far as completeness of change is concerned. You have seen such faces and have heard such voices. They result from a life the kind we are considering. They are but its outward manifestations, spontaneous as the water from the earth as it bursts forth a natural fountain.

We must not fail also to notice the effect of this life upon one’s manners and bearing. True politeness comes from a life founded upon this great principle, and from this alone. This gives the true gentleman,–_gentle-man_,–a man gentle, kind, loving, courteous from nature. Such a one can’t have anything but true politeness, can’t be anything but a gentle-man; for one can’t truly be anything but himself. So the one always intent upon and thinking of self cannot be the true gentleman, notwithstanding the artful contrivances and studied efforts to appear so, but which so generally reveal his own shallowness and artificiality, and disgust all with whom he comes in contact.

I sometimes meet a person who, when introduced, will go through a series of stiff, cold, and angular movements, the knee at such a bend, the foot at such an angle, the back with such a bend or hump,–much less pleasant to see than that of a camel or a dromedary, for with these it is natural,–so that I have found myself almost thinking, Poor fellow, I wonder what the trouble is, whether he will get over it all right. It is so very evident that he all the time has his mind upon himself, wondering whether or not he is getting everything just right. What a relief to turn from such a one to one who, instead of thinking always of self, has continually in mind the ease and comfort and pleasure he can give to others, who, in other words, is the true _gentle-man_, and with whom true politeness is natural; for one’s every act is born of his thoughts.

It is said that there was no truer gentleman in all Scotland than Robert Burns. And yet he was a farmer all his life, and had never been away from his native little rural village into a city until near the close of his life, when, taking the manuscripts that for some time had been accumulating in the drawer of his writing-table up to Edinburgh, he captivated the hearts of all in the capital. Without studied contrivances, he was the true gentleman, and true politeness was his, because his life was founded upon the principle that continually brought from his pen lines such as:–

“It’s coming yet, for a’ that,
That man to man, the warld o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that!”

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