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Uncle Hopeful, as we must call him, because he is
everything that is cheerful and happy, was talking with
us on the occasion of his seventieth birth-day, and the
conversation naturally led to life and its uses. We
could not avoid asking the question how it was that,
while other men were soured by the cares of the world,
and bent over with their weight, he had retained his
elasticity of temper and body. He assured us that he
had no patent for his remedy, there was no secret involved
in it. He had begun life with a determination
to do right, and as, in order to do right, it was essential
that he should feel right, his prayer had been for grace,
a cheerful heart, and a broader nature. He had gone
out into the world with this feeling, and the result had
been peace. He had never quarrelled, never wronged
a man, never joined a church, loved God and men, and
was now ready to step from this bank and shoal of time
to the destiny beyond, unwavering in his faith that it
was well with him. Uncle Hopeful had not been a perfect
man, as the world understands the word perfect.
He had had his buffetings with Satan in the form of
various temptations, from some of which encounters he
had come out badly hurt; but the smart had done him


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good. He had seen in each temptation a new lesson,
enjoining upon him the duty of loving the tempted and
the fallen, and the uses of adversity likewise had a deep
and abiding belief in him. He thanked God for his
temptation, for it had made him stronger; and for his
adversity, for it had made him better — had softened his
heart, and brought him more into sympathy with the
sorrowful. “Uncle Hopeful,” then we said, “what is
your recipe, in brief, for a happy life?” The old man
lifted his face, as bright as though he were transfigured,
and uttered the words, “Purpose and work — an object
and the struggle for its attainment.”—“Suppose the
object is money?” we queried. — “That is disease,” he
replied, thoughtfully; “the object should be the honor
of. God and the improvement of man — everything else
should be subordinate.” We separated, but the lesson
went with us. How few there are who live according
to Uncle Hopeful's idea of happiness! How many are
there now standing on the verge of a life, that can look
back along its path with the same satisfaction as Uncle
Hopeful? Measuring life by its usefulness, he has lived
more than seventy years. When such a person dies, it
seems to us that tears are the selfish begrudgings of our
nature of the rest he so much needs after his long and
faithful toil. A little of his own cheerful philosophy
should give us joy at his transit, rather than sorrow.