( Originally Published 1879 )
No MAN, in any condition of life, can pass his days with tolerable comfort without patience. It is of universal use. Without it, prosperity will be continually disturbed, and adversity will be clouded with double darkness. He who is without patience will be uneasy and troublesome to all with whom he is connected, and will be more troublesome to himself than to any other. The loud complaint, the querulous temper and fretful spirit, disgrace every character: we weaken thereby the sympathy of others, and estrange them from offices of kindness and comfort. But to maintain a steady and unbroken mind, amidst all the shocks of adversity, forms the highest honor of man. Afflictions supported by patience and surmounted by fortitude, give the last finishing stroke to the heroic and the virtuous character. Thus the vale of tears becomes the theatre of human glory; that dark cloud presents the scene of all the beauties in the bow of virtue. Moral grandeur, like the sun, is brighter in the day of the storm, and never is so truly sublime as when straggling through the darkness of an eclipse.
Patience is the guardian of faith, the preserver of peace, the cherisher of love, the teacher of humility. Patience governs the flesh, strengthens the spirit, sweet-ens the temper, stifles anger, extinguishes envy, subdues pride ; she bridles the tongue, restrains the hand, tramples upon temptations, endures persecutions, con-summates martyrdom.
Patience produces unity in the church, loyalty in the state, harmony in families and societies; she comforts the poor and moderates the rich; she makes us humble in prosperity, cheerful in adversity, unmoved by calumny and reproach; she teaches us to forgive those who have injured us, and to be the first in asking the forgiveness of those whom we have injured; she delights the faithful and invites the unbelieving; she adorns the woman and approves the man; she is beautiful in either sex and every age.
Behold her appearance and her attire ! Her countenance is calm and serene as the face of heaven unspotted by the shadow of a cloud, and no wrinkle of grief or anger is seen in her forehead. Her eyes are as the eyes of doves for meekness, and on her eyebrows sit cheerfulness and joy. Her mouth is lovely in silence her complexion and color that of innocence and security, while, like the virgin, the daughter of Zion, she shakes her head at the adversary, despising and laughing him to scorn. She is clothed in the robes of the martyrs, and in her hand she holds a sceptre in the form of a cross. She rides not in the whirlwind and stormy tempest of passion, but her throne is the humble and contrite heart, and her kingdom is the kingdom of peace.
Patience has been defined as the " courage of virtue," the principle that enables us to lessen pain of mind or body; an emotion that does not so much add to the number of our joys, as it tends to diminish the number of our sufferings. If life is made to abound with pains and troubles, by the errors and the crimes of man, it is no small advantage to have a faculty that enables us to soften these pains and to ameliorate these troubles. How powerful, and how extensive the influence of patience in performing this acceptable service, it is impossible to judge but from experience ; those who have known most bodily pain can best testify its power. Impatience, in fact, by inducing restlessness and irritation, not only doubles every pang, and prolongs every suffering, but actually often creates the trials to be endured. In pains of the body this is the case, but more potently is it so in all mental affliction. The hurry of spirits, the ineffectual efforts for premature relief, the agitation of undue expectation, all combine to create a real suffering, in addition to what is inflicted by the cause of our impatience. How numberless are the petty disasters effected, the trivial vexations protracted by this harrassing emotion; the loss of money, time, friends, reputation, by mistaken earnestness in pursuing violent schemes, in not pausing to reflect before decision, in urging disagreeable or unjust claims, and in rushing into ill-concerted plans?
The most beneficent 'operations of nature are the result of patience. The waters slowly deposit their rich alluvium; the fruits are months in their growth and perfecting.
To be wise we must diligently apply ourselves, and confront the same continuous application which our forefathers did; for labor is still, and ever will be, the inevitable price set upon everything which is valuable. We must be satisfied to work energetically with a purpose, and wait the results with patience. Buffon has even said of patience, that it is genius—the power of great men, in his opinion, consisting mainly in their power of continuous working and waiting. All progress, of the best kind, is slow; but to him who works faithfully and in a right spirit, be sure that the reward will be vouchsafed in its own good time. "Courage and industry," says Granville Sharpe, "must have sunk in despair, and the world must have remained unimproved and unornamented, if men had merely compared the . effect of a single stroke of the chisel with the pyramid to be raised, or of a single impression of the spade with the mountains to be leveled." We must continuously apply ourselves to right pursuits, and we cannot fail to advance steadily, though it may be unconsciously.
Hugh Miller modestly says, in his autobiography: " The only merit to which I lay claim is that of patient research—a merit in which whoever wills may rival or surpass me; and this humble faculty of patience, when rightly developed, may lead to more extraordinary developments of idea than even genius itself."
Patience is a good nag, says the proverb. Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast. Always have a good stock of patience laid by, and be sure you put it where you can easily find it. Cherish patience as your favorite virtue. Always keep it about you. You will find use for it oftener than for all the rest. Moderation is the silken string running through the pearl-chain of all virtue. He who is impatient to become his own master is most likely to become merely his own slave. You can do anything if you will only have patience; water may be carried in a sieve, if you can only wait till it freezes. Those who at the commencement of their career meet with less applause than they deserve, not unfrequently gain more than they deserve at the end of it; though having grounds at first to fear that they were born to be starved, they often live long enough to die of a surfeit.
He hath made a good progress in business that hath thought well of it beforehand. Some do first and think afterwards. Precipitation ruins the best laid designs; whereas patience ripens the most difficult, and renders the execution of them easy. That is done soon enough which is done well. Soon ripe, soon rotten. He that would enjoy the fruit, must not gather the flower. He calls to patience, who is patience itself, and he that gives the precept enforces it by his own example. Patience affords us a shield to defend ourselves, and innocence denies us a sword to defend others. Knowledge is power, but it is one of the slowest because one of the most durable of agencies. Continued exertion, and not hasty efforts, that lead to success. What cannot be cured must be endured. How poor are they that have not patience!