Quarrels with Neighbors
Most people think there are cares enough in the world, and yet many are very industrious to increase them. One of the readiest ways of doing this, is to quarrel with a neighbor. A bad bargain may vex a man for a week, and a bad debt may trouble him for a month; but a quarrel with his neighbors will keep him in hot water all the year round.
Aaron Hanes delights in fowls, and his cocks and hens are always scratching up the flowerbeds of his neighbor William Wilkes, whose mischievous tom-cat every now and then runs off with a chicken. The consequence is, that William Wilkins is one half the day occupied in driving away the fowls, and threatening to wrench their long ugly necks off; while Aaron Hands, in his periodical outbreaks, invariably vows to skin his neighbor's cat, as sure as he can lay hold of him.
Neighbors! Neighbors! Why can you not be at peace? Not all the fowls you can rear, and the flowers you can grow — will make amends for a life of anger, hatred, malice, and uncharitableness. Come to some kind-hearted understanding one with another, and dwell in peace.
Upton, the refiner, has a smoky chimney, that sets all the neighborhood by the ears. The people around abuse him without mercy, complaining that they are poisoned, and declaring that they will indict him at the sessions. Upton fiercely sets them at defiance, on the ground that his premises were built before theirs, that his chimney did not come to them, but that they came to his chimney.
Neighbors! Neighbors! practice a little more forbearance. Had half a dozen of you waited on the refiner in a kindly spirit, he would years ago have so altered his chimney, that it would not have annoyed you.
Mrs. Tibbets is thoughtless — if it were not so she would never have had her large dusty carpet beaten, when her neighbor, who had a wash, was having her wet clothes hung out to dry. Mrs. Williams is hasty and passionate, or she would never have taken it for granted that the carpet was beaten on purpose to spite her, and give her trouble. As it is, Mrs. Tibbets and Mrs. Williams hate one another with a perfect hatred.
Neighbors! Neighbors! bear with one another. We are none of us angels — and should not, therefore, expect those about us to be free from faults.
Those who attempt to out-wrangle a quarrelsome neighbor, go the wrong way to work. A kind word, and still more a kind deed — will be more likely to be successful.
Two children wanted to pass by a savage dog: the one took a stick in his hand and pointed it at him, but this only made the enraged creature more furious than before. The other child adopted a different plan; for by giving the dog a piece of his bread and butter, he was allowed to pass, the subdued animal wagging his tail in quietude.
If you happen to have a quarrelsome neighbor, conquer him by civility and kindness; try the bread and butter system, and keep your stick out of sight. That is an excellent Christian admonition, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger."
Neighbors' quarrels are a mutual reproach, and yet a stick or a straw is sufficient to promote them. One man is rich, and another poor; one is a churchman, another a dissenter; one is a conservative, another a liberal; one hates another because he is of the same trade, and another is bitter with his neighbor because he is a Jew or a Roman Catholic.
Neighbors! Neighbors! live in love, and then while you make others happy, you will be happier yourselves.
"Be you all of one mind," says the Apostle, "having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing." To a rich man I would say, bear with and try to serve those who are below you. And to a poor one —
"Fear God, love peace, and mind your labor;
And never, never quarrel with your neighbor."