Do you toil, young girl, from daylight to midnight, while the little sums eked out with frowns and reluctant fingers, hardly suffice to provide for you food and raiment? And the wife of your rich employer, who passes stranger-like by you, may sit at her marble toilet-table for hours, and retouch the faded brow of beauty before a gilded mirror; may lounge at her palace window till she is weary of gazing, and being gazed at; do you envy your wealthier neighbour, young sewing-girl? Go to her boudoir, where pictures and statuary, silken hangings and perfumes delight every sense, and where costly robes are flung around with a profusion that betokens lavish expenditure; ask her which she deems happiest, and she will point her jewelled finger towards you, and–if she speaks with candour–tell you that for your single soul and free spirits, she would barter all her riches. The opera, where night after night the wealth of glorious voices is flung upon the air till its every vibration is melody, and the spirit drinks it in as it would the incense of rare flowers, is to her not so exquisite a luxury as the choice songs, warbled in a concert room, to which you may listen but few times in the year; such pleasure palls in repetition, on the common mind, for nature’s favourites are among the poor, and gold, with all its magical power, can never attune the ear to music, nor the taste to an appreciation of that which is truly beautiful in nature or art. Keep then your integrity, and you never need envy the wife of your employer. A round of heartless dissipation has sickened her of humanity; and if it were not for the excitement of outshining her compeers in the ranks of fashion, she would lay down her useless life to-morrow.
Mothers, worn out and enfeebled with work, labouring for those who, however good they may be, are at the best unable to pay you for you unceasing toil, unable to realize your great sacrifices, do you look upon your neighbour who has more means and a few petted children, and wish that your lot was like hers? You pause often over your task, and think it greater than you can bear.
“Tell mothers,” said a lady to us a short time since, “who have their little ones around them, that they are living their happiest days; and the time will come when they will realize it. Tell them to bend in thankfulness over the midnight lamp, to smile at their ceaseless work and call it pleasure. I can but kneel in fancy by the distant graves of my children; they are all gone. Could I but have them beside me now, I would delve like a slave for them; I would think no burden too hard, no denial beyond my strength, if I might but labour for their good and be rewarded by their smiles and their love.”
Then in whatever situation we are, we should remember that even but a door from our own dwelling there may be anguish, compared with which ours is but as the whisper of a breath to the roll of the thunder. We do not say then, let us console ourselves by the reflection that there are always those in the world who suffer keener afflictions than ourselves, “but let us feel that though our cup of sorrow may be almost full, there might be added many a drop of bitterness;” and never, never should we breathe the expression, “there is no sorrow like unto mine.”