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13 102 Bardeen
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,