[Temple Wall]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 19: Morning


Be sweet to all. Is thy complexion sowre?

Then keep such companie; make them thy allay:

Get a sharp wife, a servant that will lowre.

A stumbler stumbles least in rugged way.

   Command thy self in chief. He lifes warre knows,

   Whom all his passions follow, as he goes.

     Be sweet to all. Is your complexion sour? Then keep such company [that fits your sour complexion]; make them your alloy [combine with them to temper you]: Get a sharp wife, a servant that will frown. A stumbler stumbles least in rugged way. Command yourself first. He knows life's war, whom all his passions follow as he goes. [He commands them to follow his objectives; he is not led by his emotions..]

     If a person is sour, moody, argumentative, mean or otherwise disagreeable, he/she should find people like him/herself. Socialize with them, and they will temper him, give him emotional support. Get a bitter gossip for a wife and a servant that will skulk and argue with him. Join those equally miserable, and he will be accepted and not be exceptional. He will fit in and not be noticed. He may even seem to be good humored by comparison. He will be happy broadcasting his bad moods to those like himself, and he will not detract from those who are better tempered. This is an excellent solution.

     There is a better, more lasting conclusion: Rule yourself first. Manage your feelings, and keep them behind you, out of your way. If you give free rein to your passions, you bounce like an American football, out of control. On the other hand, you can govern your conflicting affections. You learn that governing your feelings does not mean rejecting or suppressing them. You see them for what they are, why they occur and how they control you. You have a continuous war maintaining yourself from these invading feelings. Don't let them get in front of you and cloud your judgment or prevent your dealing with others. The first step is to rule yourself.

© 1997 J. R. Arner

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