After an ugly scar had been made by the stone quarry in the mountainside opposite Ruskin's home, destroying the beauty of his favorite landscape, he used to place a big chair in front of the window where he had been accustomed to command a beautiful view of lake and mountain so that it would conceal the scar from him while working, because it disturbed the harmony of his thought.
If you have received an ugly scar from some one perhaps whom you trusted and believed in; if you have a sore spot, a tender spot anywhere that mars your happiness, don't aggravate your pain by looking at it, keeping the sore open by reviewing a painful experience and cherishing a grudge against the one who injured you. Cover your wound with the mantle of love instead, forget and forgive the injury, and your wound will soon heal.
This is what a great singer did in the case of one who tried to do her a cruel wrong. The story is told by T. DeWitt Talmage in "The Pathway of Life":
"When Madame Sontag began her musical career, she was hissed off the stage at Vienna by the friends of her rival, Amelia Steininger, who had begun to decline through her dissipation. Years passed on and one day Madame Sontag, in her glory, was riding through Berlin, when she saw a child leading a blind woman, and she said: 'Come here, my child. Who is that you are leading by the hand?' The child replied: 'That's my mother; that's Amelia Steininger. She used to be a great singer, but she lost her voice, and she cried so much about it that she lost her eyesight.' 'Give my love to her,' said Madame Sontag, 'and tell her an old acquaintance will call on her this afternoon.' The next week, in Berlin, Madame Sontag sang before a vast audience gathered at a benefit for that blind woman. She took a skilled oculist to see her, but in vain he tried to give eyesight to the blind woman. Until the day of Amelia Steininger's death, Madame Sontag took care of her, and her daughter after her. That was what the queen of song did for her enemy."
That was love's way, the way of the Christ, who gave His followers that divine command, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven."
If you would be truly happy "bless where others curse; love where others hate; forget where others condemn; yield where others strive; give up where others grasp; lose where others gain."
Revenge, prejudice, hatred, spite, the desire for retaliation, all of the ill-will family act as irritants in the blood, and often destroy the health as well as the happiness of those who indulge in them.
I know a man who for years carried a fearful grudge against an employer who had broken a contract with him and discharged him. He not only refused to speak to his former employer when he met him on the street, but he stabbed him in the back whenever he got an opportunity, was always saying bitter things about him. Finally the employer failed in business, and in his desperate need, in order to keep his family from want, he applied for a position to the man he had once discharged, who in the meantime had become prosperous. The man gloated over their changed conditions and took great delight in "getting square," as he called it, with "the old man." Instead of giving him a helping hand, he gave him what he described as "a terrible raking over the coals," told him how he had hated him for years for the insult he had put upon him, and that he was really glad to have the opportunity of witnessing his painful distress and of turning him down when asking for a favor. He actually rejoiced in the misfortune of the man he regarded as his enemy and bragged about his triumph in at last "getting square" with him.
Now, this getting square business proved a very costly one to this man, as it does to everybody who tries it. Hatred had rankled so long in his system that there is no doubt but it had much to do with the failure of his health, for he suffered frightfully from chronic nervous dyspepsia, and liver and kidney trouble, as well as rheumatism. Indeed, his physician told him it was his mental irritation that caused his nervous breakdown. He said that the carrying grudges against neighbors, the failure to eradicate the roots of fancied insults, allowing hard thoughts and bitter feelings to fester and ulcerate in the nature, lowers one's vitality, lessens physical resisting power, and tends to physical and mental deterioration.
A determination to be revenged, to "get square," for real or fancied wrongs, all grudges, all ill-will, all hatred and malice, are boomerangs which always come back to the thrower, who, in the end, is injured much more by them than the one at whom they were aimed.
The story is told of a man who had once been very poor, but who after a time had accumulated a fortune. He built himself a magnificent mansion, and because he wanted to get square with a poorer neighbor with whom he had had a quarrel on his way up, he built a "spite fence" so high around his mansion that it cut much of the light and the sunshine out of the poorer man's house. It cut off the cool breezes in the summer, the sun in the winter, and made his neighbor's house very uncomfortable. To make the matter worse, there was an invalid sister in the neighbor's house who was tubercular and needed the sun very much. The rich man knew this, but so long as he "got square" with the man with whom he had quarreled he did not care who suffered.
He had not spoken to his neighbor for several years, when one day he saw a hearse in front of his door. Instantly the truth flashed upon his mind - that the invalid sister had gone, and then he was tortured with the thought that possibly the cutting off of the sun and air from that part of the house where she had lived had hastened her death. He tried in every way to get this idea out of his head, saying to himself, "How foolish this is; it is none of my affair. The man could have moved the invalid to some other part of the town. Her death is not my fault. But the thought would not down, and he resolved to go to the man against whom he had so long cherished such a bitter grudge and tell him that he would remove the fence, if he so desired. But every time he made up his mind to do this, and had the opportunity, something inside of him re sisted, a stubbornness which he could not account for, urged him to put off, and put off, the execution of his purpose, until finally the man disappeared. He was not seen going in and out of his home, and upon inquiry the rich man learned that his neighbor was very ill and not likely to live. This increased his torture, his regret, for he was fearful, as in the case of the woman, that the spite fence might have had something to do with her brother's illness.