Unpleasant People!("Pleasant Readings for the Home" Author unknown)
Where are unpleasant people to be found? The difficulty is to say where they are not — for we find people with unpleasant notions and peculiar habits almost everywhere. There is a diversity of character in every community, all exercising an influence for good or evil. There is an Unpleasant Street in every locality, inhabited by disagreeable people, who are very strange. Let us mention some of them:
Conceited people, who bewilder all;
Crusty people, who repel all;
Tattling people, who annoy all;
Discontented people, who worry all;
Dirty people, who disgust all;
Idle people, who distress all.
Mr. Self-Conceit lived in Unpleasant Street; he bewildered everybody who knew him, by his vague speeches, senseless utterances, and foggy ideas. He was truly a conceited man, and loved to talk about himself and about his knowledge of things in general. What others thought of Mr. Self-Conceit, was quite contrary to what he thought of himself; for the opinion was that be really knew nothing correctly, but had a smattering of many things and did not think for himself. Our advice to such is — think twice before you speak once, and always aim at self-abasement.
Mr. Joe Crusty repelled his would-be friends. He was known to be the man whose absence was preferred to his company. Never cheerful himself, Joe never tried to make others cheerful, but allowed his temper to burst forth on every occasion of annoyance. Thus he became habitually peevish, fretful, and disagreeable. This man, by his uniform snappishness, turned his blessings into trials, and became his own enemy.
Mr. and Mrs. Whisperer were neighbors; they greatly annoyed others by their slander, fault-finding, and evil-speaking. It was truly a frightful source of mischief, for their flippant words and unkind whispers caused to many a lifetime of sorrow.
Oh, those contemptible whisperers! How true it is that "those who cannot strike with force — can poison their weapons — and, as weak as they are, can give mortal wounds!"
Always remember that, "Kind words do not cost much. They never blister the tongue or lips. And we have never heard of any mental trouble arising from this quarter. Though they do not cost much — yet they accomplish much. They help one's own good-nature and good-will. Soft words soften our own soul. Angry words are fuel to the flame of wrath, and make it blaze the more fiercely. Kind words make other people good-natured.
Cold words freeze people,
hot words scorch people,
sarcastic words irritate people,
bitter words make people bitter, and
wrathful words make people wrathful."
The tongue is, indeed, a dangerous member and requires great control. "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by Hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison!" James 3:5-8
A certain woman once called upon her clergyman to tell him how distressed her mind was. He received her with all tenderness, and inquired into the cause of her distress. She went on to say that her mind was very much troubled indeed, but she did know how to tell him. The clergyman judging it must be something serious, urged her to be explicit upon the subject of her trouble.
At last she said, "It is the length of your neckties, sir — when in the pulpit."
"Oh," he said, "the length of my neckties is what distresses you? I will take care that shall be a source of distress to you no more."
So fetching his neckties, he said, "Here is a pair of scissors, cut them to your wish."
After she had done this — she thanked him, and professed to feel her mind relieved.
"Well, my friend," said he, "I may tell you that my mind has also been much troubled, perhaps even more than yours."
"Oh, sir, I am sorry for that — what, sir, has distressed your mind so?"
He replied, "It is the length of your tongue — and now, as one good turn deserves another, you will allow as much to be cut off as will reduce it to its proper length!"
She was speechless and learned an important lesson.
Philip of Macedon was once vilely slandered, and on being told so, he said, "I do my best endeavor every day, as well as by my sayings and doings, to prove my slanderers liars." It would be well always to remember the following rules in listening to evil reports:
1. To hear as little as possible of whatever is to the harm of others.
2. To believe nothing evil — until you are absolutely forced to it.
3. Never to drink into the spirit of one who circulates an ill report.
4. Always to moderate, as far as you can, the unkindness which is expressed towards others.
5. Always to believe that, if the other side were heard — a very different account would be given of the matter.
In this street there were discontented people, of which Mr. Grumbleton was a specimen. He forgot the important truth that those who deserve nothing — should be content with anything; that they should bless God for what they have, and trust Him for what they need.
Mr. Grumbleton did not realize the fact that he was in just the position that God would have him be. He was something like the canary in the following fable:
"A canary and a gold fish had their lot thrown together in the same room. One hot day the master of the house heard the fish complaining of his companion overhead, 'Oh! I wish I could sing as sweetly as my friend up there!'
Meanwhile the canary was eyeing the inhabitant of the globe, 'How cool it looks! I wish my lot was there.'
'So, then, it shall be,' said the master, and forthwith placed the fish in the air and the bird in the water, whereupon they saw their folly and repented of their discontent."
One day, an old man came in and asked a tradesman if he wanted any of his wares. The shop-keeper made a purchase, and in the mean time asked how he was getting on.
The old man answered, "Better since I relocated."
"Oh, have you relocated?"
"Yes, I used to live in Grumbling Street, and I was never well, but since I have lived in Thanksgiving Street, I have got on a great deal better."
He added, "Grumbling Street is a very unhealthy atmosphere, while Thanksgiving Street is altogether different."
We say to all who live in Grumbling Street: Relocate as quickly as possible, for, as this old man said, "No one is healthy in it," and get into Thanksgiving Street. Then, if you can appreciate the change, you can recommend it to others.
In other words, give up grumbling and count your mercies, and say with the Psalmist, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits."
If Mr. Grumbleton had learned this lesson — he would not have rendered himself odious by always murmuring about his lot.
Several people in this locality made themselves disagreeable through their lack of cleanliness. Soap and water seemed to frighten them. The parents sent their children to school with dirty faces, dirty hands, and, worst of all, dirty heads. "Cleanliness is next to godliness," but how slow some are to learn the lesson!
Mr. Idleman lived in Unpleasant Street — his idle habits were a great curse. Mr. Idleman was a fair type of those who do not like work, and who do not share the struggle with poverty with their wives.
There was an idle corner to this street, near the public-house and pawnshop. Young and old congregated there, and conversation of the loosest kind was indulged in, much to the annoyance of respectable people.
Shun this corner, my reader, if you would avoid a place of danger. "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers!"
"In all labor there is profit."
"If a man will not work — neither shall he eat."
An excellent punishment for idleness has been put in practice in a workhouse in Germany. Idlers in the morning are suspended above the dinner table in a basket, so that they may see and smell — but are not permitted to taste the things provided for those who have been industrious.
Poverty is too often the result of idleness and sloth — rather than misfortune.
"How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest — and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man." God helps those who help themselves, and prospers all honest labor.
Even the tiny ant teaches the idle man lessons of wisdom. What industry and forethought! What patience and perseverance! In summer time the ant diligently lays by a store for the dark days of winter. Solomon speaks to the idle when he says, "Go to the ant, you sluggard, consider her ways and be wise!"
Idleness is the canker of the soul, the devil's cushion and pillow, his choice time of temptation — when he carries our corrupt affections to any cursed sin.
There are also those who habitually idle away their time, and yet seem not to have a moment to spare for pious duties. They neglect God's commands, have no time to attend the house of God, no time to pray, no time to read the Bible, and throw away their precious opportunities for mental culture and improvement, as well as preparation for the world to come.
We could mention other people living in Unpleasant Street, who said unpleasant things and did unpleasant things, whose habits of life needed much improvement — but space forbids our doing so.
But if either Mr. Self-Conceit, Mr. Crusty, Mr. Whisperer, etc, are led to see the bad influence they exert upon the locality in which they live, and endeavor to change accordingly, it will elevate and improve the condition of many, while they, themselves, will become agreeable and pleasant people.
Sydney Smith recommends us to try and make at least one person happy every day, and adds the calculation, "Do this for ten years, and you will have made 3,650 people happy, or brightened a small town — by your contribution to the fund of general joy." If every person acted upon this advice, many a street now filled with unpleasant people will become a street filled with those who would be agreeable and pleasant.