W0392 SCHOOL ESSAY BY JOHN BATCHELDER
Oct 6 1826
To: [Dr.] Calvin McQuesten,
From: Bradford Academy, Bradford, Massachusetts, [U.S.A.]ON COMPASSION
There is a strong propensity in human nature to sympathize with the affections of each other. This passion is a strong link of the great chain, that binds the affections of the human family. It is that agent that mingles the emotions of mankind and causes them to flow in similar channels. They, who cherish these feelings for the woes of others, who clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and comfort the minds of those that are afflicted, taste some of the purest joys, this world is capable of affording. The whole family of man were created for promoting the happiness of those around them. As every wheel in a well wrought machine is necessary for the form for which it was designed, so is every work of God necessary for the order and harmony of creation. There is no person so mean or so obscure as not to be able to contribute to the happiness of mankind in some degree.
It should therefore be the general rule among men to look on the miseries and wants of those in any condition inferior to themselves rather than on the pomp and gaiety of earthly splendor and sigh to possess them. Rather have compassion on those mean souls whose whole thoughts are bent on hoarding up in superabundance of this world's good and have no propensity to learn the woes of others.
Compassion is one of the highest attributes of the Deity. God delights in exercising his acts of beneficence towards his children, in healing their broken spirits, soothing all their miseries and above all in his provision of a mediator between them and himself. His word contains numerous instances of the exercise of this heavenly spirit. Who can read the narrative of the Good Samaritan and not feel his affections arise in commendation, of this disinterested, this benevolent and compassionate act. Behold the father of the prodigal son, with what love and affection did he receive his returning penitent. See him who spake as never man spoke taking upon himself our infirmities and healing our diseases. But few indeed are the instances where this heavenly spirit is exercised in its purity. We see many professed Christians applying the balm of consolation with a smooth tongue and hypocritical countenance, but let the distress of a fellow creature draw upon his purse strings, and like the Priest and Levite he will pass by on the other side.
We would charitably hope that instances of this kind are few, but the flock will unavoidably be infected so long as selfishness and the love of gain are the prevailing passions of mankind.1
1 John Batchelder is likely the brother of Jacob Batchelder, Jr. and both were classmates of Calvin McQuesten's at Bradford Academy. Among Dr. McQuesten's school essays, he retained a copy of two of the Batchelder essays: "Liberty and Slavery" dated August 28, 1824, and "On Compassion" dated October 6, 1826, and some letters. (See W0368, W0392, W0039, W0050, W0088, W-MCP5-6.362).