SPEAK NO ILL

Nay, speak no ill! a kindly word
    Can never leave a sting behind;
And, oh! to breathe each tale we’ve heard
    Is far beneath a noble mind.
Full oft a better seed is sown
    By choosing thus the kinder plan;
For if but little good is known,
    Still let us speak the best we can.

Give us the heart that fain would hide,
    Would fain another’s faults efface;
How can it please e'en human pride
    To prove humanity but base?
No! let us reach a higher mood,
    A noble sentiment of man;
Be earnest in the search of good,
    And speak of all the best we can.

Then speak no ill, but lenient be
    To other's failings as your own;
If you’re the first a fault to see,
    Be not the first to make it known.
For life is but a passing day,
    No lip may tell how brief its span;
Then, oh! the little time we stay,
    Let’s speak of all the best we can.

—Anon.

Source:  THE PRAIRIE FARMER, Vol. 22, No. 4, Page 58, Chicago, Illinois, July 26, 1860.