Good deeds may be done by any one in any walk of life; by the soldier in barracks or on the battle-field, by the woman in the home, the nurse in the hospital, the business-man in his office, the, boy at school, or the inventor in the worship. The actual performance of a good deed adds to the happiness both of the doer and of those for whom it is done. The memory of a good deed excites love and gratitude, renews man’s belief in his kind, and inspires others to go and do likewise. It is an incentive to them to live purely; act uprightly, and deal justly with their fellow-men.
The source of good deeds is self-sacrifice. That was a noble act of the Swiss patriot who, when his countrymen were unable to break through the solid phalanx of Austrian spearmen, rushed in upon the spears, gathered as an as he could in his arms and plunged them into his breast, thus creating a gap through which the Swiss could enter and win the day. He knew that he was rushing to certain-death; but he considered his own life of little moment if he could only show the way to victory and strike a blow for his, country. Nobility is not the prerogative of men. Grace Darling set an example of heroism in well-doing which has never been surpassed. The steamer Forfarshire, while on its voyage from Hull to Dundee, struck on a rock and snapped in two. The fore-part of the vessel, containing nine persons, remained fast. Half a mile away there was a light-house, occupied by an old man; His wife and a daughter, Grace seeing the men on the wreck, Grace Darling entreated her father to let down a boat, but he declared that on account of the boisterousness of the sea it would be certain death. Yet he let down the boat, and Grace Darling was the first to enter it. The chances of rescue were small indeed: f Nevertheless they toiled on, and by great care and vigilance made their way to the wreck amid the breakers, and succeeded in rescuing, all the survivors.
It is terrible to reflect on the remorse of those who, with great powers for good, worked evil. Charles IX, who authorized the massacre of the Huguenots on the night of St. Bartholomew, was tortured by its horrors during his dying moments. Every moment, visions of corpses covered with blood haunted him. How he wished he had spared the innocent! What a contrast was the end of Pericles, the great Athenian statesman! While those about him were commending him for things that others might have done as well as himself, he interrupted them with a rebuke because they took no notice of the greatest and most honourable part of his character—that no Athenian, through his means, ever went into mourning.