"Do you not know how many things you can do under personal influence that you cannot in any other way? My father said to me, when I was a little boy, “Henry, take these letters and go down to the Post Office with them.” I was a brave boy; and yet I had imagination. And thousands of people are not as cowardly as you think. Persons with quick imaginations, and quick sensibility, people the heavens and the earth, so that there are a thousand things in them that harder men do not think of and understand. I saw behind every thicket some shadowy form; and I heard trees say strange and weird things; and in the dark concave above I could hear flitting spirits. All the heaven was populous to me, and the earth was full of I know not what strange sights. These things wrought my system to a wonderful tension. When I went pit-a-pat along the road in the dark, I was brave enough; and if it had been anything that I could have seen, if it had been anything that I could have fought, it would have given me great relief; but it was not. It was only a vague, outlying fear. I knew not what it was. When father said to me, “Go,” I went – for I was obedient. I took my old felt hat, and stepped out of the door; and Charles Smith (a great thick-lipped black man, who worked on the farm, and who was always doing kind things) said to me, “Look here, I will go with you.” Oh! Sweeter music never came out of any instrument than that. The heaven was just as full, and the earth was just as full as before; but now I had somebody to go with me. It was not that I thought he was going to fight for me. I did not think there was going to be any need of fighting, but I had somebody to lean on; somebody to care for me; somebody to help and succor me. Let anything be done by direction, let anything be done by thought or rule, and how different it is from its being done by personal inspiration.”
There's a lot about this little story that tickles me, but what strikes me most is the sweet music that Charles Smith made to this youngster. It takes me back to my boyhood and memories of my uncle Jack, who would play this music to my ears on so many occasions. Whether it was something I feared or just to eliminate boredom, his company meant so much to me. The power of personal presence, it just cannot be over estimated.
Henry Ward Beecher - Photo by Taci Yuksel