Of Cheerfulness.

This is from the 1824 Blue Back Speller that was used by many of our founding fathers to educate their children and grandchildren.


Q. Is cheerfulness a virtue?
A. It doubtless is, and a moral duty to practice it.

Q. Can we be cheerful when we please?
A. In general it depends much on ourselves. We can often mold our tempers into a cheerful frame. --We can frequent company and other objects calculated to inspire us with cheerfulness. To indulge an habitual gloominess of mind is weakness and sin.

Q. What are the effects of cheerfulness on ourselves?
A. Cheerfulness is a great preservative of health, over which it is our duty to watch with care. We have no right to sacrifice our health tby the indulgence of a gloomy state of mind. Besides, a cheerful man will do more business, and do it better, than a melancholy one.

Q. What are the effects of cheerfulness on others?
A. Cheerfulness is readily communicated to others, by which means their happiness is increased. We are all influenced by sympathy, and naturally partake of the joys and sorrows of others.

Q. What effect has melancholy on the heart?
A. It hardens and benumbs it—It chills the warm affections of love and friendship, and prevents the exercise of the social passions. A melancholy person's life is all night and winter. It is as unnatural as perpetual darkness and frost.

Q. What shall one do when overwhelmed with grief?
A. The best method of expelling grief from the mind, or of quieting its pains, is to change the objects that are about us; to ride from place to place, and frequent cheerful company. It is our duty so to do, especially when grief sits heavy on the heart.

Q. Is it not right to grieve for the loss of our friends?
A. It is certainly right; but we should endeavor to moderate our grief, and not suffer it to impair our health, or to grow into a settled melancholy. The use of grief is to soften the heart and make us better. But when our friends are dead, we can render them no further service. Our duty to them ends, when we commit them to the grave; but our duty to ourselves, our families, and surviving friends, requires that we perform to them the customary offices of life. We should therefore remember our departed friends only to imitate their virtues; and not to pine away with useless sorrow.

Q. Has not religion a tendency to fill the mind with gloom?
A. True religion never has this effect. Superstition and false notions of God, often make men gloomy; but true rational piety and religion have the contrary effect. They fill the mind with joy and cheerfulness and the countenance of a truly pious man should always wear a serene smile.

Q. What has Christ said concerning gloomy Christians?
A. He has pronounced them hypocrites; and commanded his followers not to copy their sad countenances and disfigured faces; but even in their actos of humiliation to “anoint their heads and wash their feet.” Christ intended by this, that religion does not consist in, nor require a monkish sadness and gravity; on the other hand, he intimates that such appearances of sanctity are generally the marks of hypocrisy. He expressly enjoins upon this followers marks of cheerfulness. Indeed, the only true ground of perpetual cheerfulness, is, a consciousness of ever having done well, and an assurance of divine favor.

My, how far school has come. Or more precisely, how far it has degraded...

I hope you enjoyed, and be of good cheer!


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