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A PRIZE ESSAY.
(See page 32.) MOTIVE gives character to every action performed by reasoning beings. The same thing done or said — the same to all outward appearance is good or bad, beautiful or unlovely, according to the motive which gave it birth. Does this require illustration to enforce its truth?
I am busy at my writing-desk. Near me is my little sister or niece, looking over a book of pictures I have placed in her hand. Her little bare arms are often crossing the paper on which I am writing, to show the objects that interest and excite curiosity, and obtain some satisfying answer. Suddenly that fair arm receives from my hand a blow so startling that the book falls, the flesh reddens, and tears start into the innocent eyes. Perhaps I gave that blow because I was impatient at the interruption of my pursuits. — How unkind and cruel the act! Perhaps I gave it because a noisome insect had settled upon the sweet flesh, and would feed himself at the expense of the little girl's future comfort.— How kind and friendly the act !
Both these actions are the result of impulse, but the impulse springs from a motive; in the one case, the selfish desire of personal convenience; in the other, the unselfish wish to spare another inconvenience. Multitudes of similar instances might be adduced, were they needed. I shall cite but one other, this belonging to the class of deliberate actions.
I have on my premises a magnificent tree, the growth of many years, in the possession of which I have much pleasure,
possessi a magnifate activite but onces miente