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Little Kindnesses Post by :Maltabrit Category :Essays Author :T. S. Arthur Date :November 2011 Read :810

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Little Kindnesses

NOT long since, it was announced that a large fortune had been left to a citizen of the United States by a foreigner, who, some years before, had "become ill" while travelling in this country, and whose sick-bed was watched with the utmost care and kindness by the citizen referred to. The stranger recovered, continued his journey, and finally returned to his own country. The conduct of the American at a moment so critical, and when, without relatives or friends, the invalid was languishing in a strange land, was not forgotten. He remembered it in his thoughtful and meditative moments, and when about to prepare for another world, his gratitude was manifested in a truly signal manner. A year or two ago, an individual in this city was labouring under great pecuniary difficulty. He was unexpectedly called upon for a considerable sum of money; and, although his means were abundant, they were not at that time immediately available. Puzzled and perplexed, he hesitated as to his best course, when, by the merest chance, he met an old acquaintance, and incidentally mentioned the facts of the case. The other referred to an act of kindness that he had experienced years before, said that he had never forgotten it, and that nothing would afford him more pleasure than to extend the relief that was required, and thus show, his grateful appreciation of the courtesy of former years! The kindness alluded to was a mere trifle, comparatively speaking, and its recollection had passed entirely from the memory of the individual who had performed it. Not so, however, with the obliged. He had never forgotten it, and the result proved, in the most conclusive manner, that he was deeply grateful.

We have mentioned the two incidents with the object of inculcating the general policy of courtesy and kindness, of sympathy and assistance, in our daily intercourse with our fellow-creatures. It is the true course under all circumstances. "Little kindnesses" sometimes make an impression that "lingers and lasts" for years. This is especially the case with the sensitive, the generous, and the high-minded. And how much may be accomplished by this duty of courtesy and humanity! How the paths of life may be smoothed and softened! How the present may be cheered, and the future rendered bright and beautiful!

There are, it is true, some selfish spirits, who can neither appreciate nor reciprocate a courteous or a generous act. They are for themselves--"now and for ever"--if we may employ such a phrase--and appear never to be satisfied. You can never do enough for them. Nay, the deeper the obligation, the colder the heart. They grow jealous, distrustful, and finally begin to hate their benefactors. But these, we trust, are "the exceptions," not "the rule." Many a heart has been won, many a friendship has been secured, many a position has been acquired, through the exercise of such little kindnesses and courtesies as are natural to the generous in spirit and the noble of soul--to all, indeed, who delight, not only in promoting their own prosperity, but in contributing to the welfare of every member of the human family. Who cannot remember some incident of his own life, in which an individual, then and perhaps now a stranger--one who has not been seen for years, and never may be seen again on this side the grave, manifested the true, the genuine, the gentle spirit of a gentleman and a Christian, in some mere trifle--some little but impulsive and spontaneous act, which nevertheless developed the whole heart, and displayed the real character! Distance and time may separate, and our pursuits and vocations may be in paths distinct, dissimilar, and far apart. Yet, there are moments--quiet, calm, and contemplative, when memory will wander back to the incidents referred to, and we will feel a secret bond of affinity, friendship, and brotherhood. The name will be mentioned with respect if not affection, and a desire will be experienced to repay, in some way or on some occasion, the generous courtesy of the by-gone time. It is so easy to be civil and obliging, to be kindly and humane! We not only thus assist the comfort of others, but we promote our own mental enjoyment. Life, moreover, is full of chance's and changes. A few years, sometimes, produce extraordinary revolutions in the fortunes of men. The haughty of to-day may be the humble of to-morrow; the feeble may be the powerful; the rich may be the poor, But, if elevated by affluence or by position, the greater the necessity, the stronger the duty to be kindly, courteous, and conciliatory to those less fortunate. We can afford to be so; and a proper appreciation of our position, a due sympathy for the misfortunes of others, and a grateful acknowledge to Divine Providence, require that we should be so. Life is short at best. We are here a few years--we sink into the grave--and even our memory is phantom-like and evanescent. How plain, then, is our duty! It is to be true to our position, to our conscience, and to the obligations imposed upon us by society, by circumstances, and by our responsibility to the Author of all that is beneficent and good.

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T. S. Arthur's essay: Little Kindnesses

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