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The Art of Living with Others, 1855

This was originally published in a California Trade journal, January 1855

The Art of Living with Others.

The fireside jars, the tea-table tempests, and the every-day laborings in too many family circles, are proof that the art of living with others is imperfectly understood, and still more imperfectly practiced. The evolutions of patience and temper, the constant manceuverings of affections and jealousy, kindness and coldness, humility and pride, in the miniature precincts of a home, are worthy to be compared to the best examples of military tactics.

The heart is ever prone to love, while the mind continually endeavors to assert its own supremacy, and domineer over every mind with which it is brought into contact. Thus arise the thousand differences which disturb the peace of families and wreck the highest hopes of earth. It is idle to argue the possibly of realizing a perfectly’ ideal state of social existence, but there is no harm in inquiring whether there are any methods of making the social relations more harmonious than now.

For some of the thoughts here presented, we are indebted to an essay in the ” Friends in Council,” an anonymous volume, published by James Munroe, Boston. In the first place, if people are to live happily together, they must not fancy that, because they are together, all their lives have been exactly similar, and that they are to be of the same mind for all the future.

We are not to expect a single person to agree with us in all points, and we must not be vexed if we fail to drive our own tastes and opinions into those we live with. In order to live on intimate terms with any one, we must entertain a proper respect for him, and be willing in some instances to waive our own preferences when they conflict with those of our friends.

Diversities, from the nature of mind itself, must arise, and we might as well complain, when gazing into the clear evening sky, ” why all these stars ; why not all one star!” as to find fault that every mind is not the exact correlate to our own. Easily derived from this general principle are the following rules: Never interfere unreasonably with others; never ridicule their tastes; never question and requestion their resolves; do not indulge in perpetual comment on their proceedings; avoid set topics of dispute, around which angry words fester till a rank quarrel breaks out; and do not hold too much to logic and suppose that every thing is to be settled by a sufficient reason.

Dr. Johnson saw this clearly with regard to married people, when he said ‘ wretched would be the pair above all names of wretchedness, who should be doomed to adjust by reason every morning, all the minute details of a domestic day. If you would be loved as a companion, ignore all unnecessary criticism upon your associates.

The number of those who have taken out judges’ patents, is very large in society, and they all drive a most prosperous business. But no one chooses to live between the glasses of a microscope, even though a fool be looking in.

One of the most vexatious kinds of criticism is that back-handed variety which commences with such introductions as these: ” Had I been consulted,” ” had you listened to me,” ” you always would have your own way,” and a legion of such like expressions which are not designed to soothe a perturbed spirit.

Another important rule is not to let familiarity swallow up courtesy. There is no place where real politeness is of more value than where we are apt to regard it superfluous. We ought never to trifle with the feelings of others, or to omit those delicate attentions in daily intercourse which we lavish upon strangers and those whose favor we would win. It is proper to speak to our associates more plainly, but not less kindly than to strangers.

Again, we must not expect too much from the society of our friends. They do not live for us alone, any more than we do exclusively for them, and we cannot command them at all times to do our pleasure. Hazlitt says—”

In travelling along at night we catch a glimpse into cheerful looking rooms with light blazing in them, and we conclude, involuntarily, how happy the inmates must be but there is no Eden of happiness in those rooms. We have at all times need of forgiveness and that charity which covercth a multitude of sins.

Perhaps some objector to the spirit of these comments may say that some persons have such sour tempers and uncontrollable passions, that there is no living peacefully with them, But to cut off the causes of bad temper, is to make that temper what it should be. The lion undisturbed is as peaceful as a lamb.

The unkindness and fretfulness which arouse anger, are as  reprehensible as anger itself, and we question whether there is not more suffering in social life from these provocations than from anger itself.

Calm self possession and a pleasant impassiveness, are sovereign remedies for irritable dispositions, but when two sensitive persons are shut up together, and go on vexing each other with a reproductive instability, there is no end to unrest and misery.

A golden maxim in this golden art is that friends and relations should be careful when they go out into the world, or admit others into their own circle, they do not expose to the disadvantage of each other the faults of which they have gained a knowledge in intimacy.

Nothing is more common than this, and whether it proceeds from carelessness or maliciousness, it is alike ungenerous and unpardonable.

The weakness of a person ought never to be learned from his bosom friends. We should shield them from the public view as religiously as we hide our own. We might go on citing little rules and precautions without number, but if the great principle of love and good will to all mankind were the ruling power in life, all these would be needless.

To live happily with others we must first learn to live happy with ourselves. He who rules his own spirit well, can so adapt himself to the shifting phases in the life of his friends as never to be drawn into harshness, never to do violence to the feelings or tastes of those who are bound to him by the sacred ties of friendship and love.

The great law of social life is ” Do unto others as you would they should do to you.” Study in all things to conciliate, and cherish continually that charity and forgiving spirit which you would have exercised toward you.

Cheerfully acknowledge merit in others, and in turn you will always Receive that kind consideration which you desire. When you cannot consistently praise, by all means remain silent, unless there be a manifest wrong, deserving censure.

As a general rule it will be found that our greatest sources of unhappiness are within ourselves, and if we fail to live harmoniously with others we shall act more wisely to set about correcting our own faults than to pick flaws in their character.  Make the fountain pure and the stream will flow clearly along, even though it must pass dark forests, lonely chasms, and rough shores.


The Mother’s Hand, anon.

A wandering orphan child was I— But meanly, at the best, attired;
For oh ! my mother scarce could buy The common food each week required;
But when the anxious day had fled. It seemed to be her dearest joy,
To press her pale hand on my head,
And pray that God would guide her boy.
But more, each winter, more and more Stern suffering brought her to decay;
And then an Angel passed her door, And bore her lingering soul away!
But oh I they know not what is grief, Who ne’er knelt by a dying bed;
All other woe on earth is brief, Save that which weeps a mother dead.

A seaman’s life was soon my lot, ‘Mid reckless deeds—and desperate men!
But still I never quite forgot The prayer I ne’er should hear again,
And oft, when half induced to tread Such paths as unto sin decoy,
I’ve felt her soft hand press my head, And that soft touch hath saved her boy.

Though hard their mockery to receive, Who ne’er themselves ‘gainst sin had striv’n,
Her whom on earth I dared not grieve, I could not —would not—grieve in heaven;
And thus from many an action dread, Too dark for human eyes to scan;
The same fond hand upon my head That blessed the boy—hath saved the man!

— published 1855 in the California Farmer & Journal of Useful Sciences.

Most Powerful Prayers #80, Take this Cup

We jump to Mark xiv and the Mount of Olives, or Gethsemane,  the night before the crucifixion. where we find Jesus praying..”  34 He said to James, Peter & John  “My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.”

35 Going a little farther by himself, Jesus  threw himself to the ground and prayed that if it were possible,  the next hour would pass from him and there would be no tribulations,  36 saying , “Abba, 52  [while originally Chaldean, it was accepted by the Greeks for the sacred name for Father in Heaven -- Gott im Himmel --  & whence Abbott comes] all things are possible for you. Take this cup 53 away from me., if thou will.   Yet if it cannot be, then not what I will, but what you will.”

And Jesus returned to his disciples having accepted his Father’s word.

Most Powerful Prayers #78 Doves Cry

This prayer is based on the thanks from King Hezekiah, King David’s heir, who had been very ill  &  was stricken with a terminal illness. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz visited him and told him, “This is what the Lord says, ‘Give instructions to your household, for you are about to die; you will not get well.’”

Heartsick about the news from the Lord’s messenger, Hezekiah does as Isaiah commands and lo and behold, he  is healed.  In the tradition of his forefather, David, he  gives up a psalm of thanksgiving.  The book gives v. 14 as the prayer, which this time comes from the NET version.  Their site btw, has been greatly been revamped.

“I thought,

‘In the middle of my life I must walk through the gates of Sheol,

I am deprived of the rest of my years.’

11“I thought,

‘I will no longer see the Lord in the land of the living,

I will no longer look on humankind with the inhabitants of the world.

12My dwelling place is removed and taken away from me

like a shepherd’s tent.

I rolled up my life like a weaver rolls cloth;

from the loom he cuts me off.

You turn day into night and end my life.

13 I cry out until morning;

like a lion he shatters all my bones;

you turn day into night and end my life.

14 Like a swallow or a thrush I chirp,

I coo like a dove;

my eyes grow tired from looking up to the sky.

O Adonai [sovereign  master], I am oppressed;

help me!

Most Powerful Prayers #76, Trials and Mortifications

see, Spirit of Prayer #3 

Praised (honored, blessed) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)! By His boundless mercy we have been born again to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, we have been 

[Born anew] into an inheritance which is beyond the reach of the change and decay [imperishable] of this  world, but  unsullied and unfading,  you,5    are being guarded (garrisoned) by God’s power through [your] faith [until you fully inherit that [c]final] salvation that is ready to be revealed [to you] for the last time.

[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though for a  while you may be distressed by the trials and suffer temptations, along the way  All of this will  let  [the genuineness] of your faith  will be tested, just like  perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire,  and so God will know of your True Love  And  you can  prove,   likewise your faith

Peter i.3-4, Amplified

Most Powerful Prayers #69, Prayer

One day,  Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said  “LORD, teach us to pray, just as John the Baptist,  taught his disciples.”

Luke 11:1 Amplified.

And the Lord gave him our Prayer.

Same chapter, different verse, 9, repeating that very idea from the Man Himself.

 So I say to you, Ask and [b]keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and [c]keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and [d]keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.10 For everyone who asks and [e]keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and [f]keeps on seeking,  finds; and to him who knocks and [g]keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.

Most Powerful Prayers, #68 Unlimited

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,15 Of whom the  family in heaven and earth is named,16 That he would grant you, from the  riches of his glory, to be strengthened with the  might of his Spirit, the inner man; 17 And that Christ may dwell in your
hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 And you May comprehend with all saints,  the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19  the love of Christ

-Ephesians of St Paul, iii:16