This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey.
Some thoughts from the Priesthood session of the April 1975 General Conference. Elder Romney spoke of courage, saying, “We all have a conscience, and a conscience is the root of moral courage. A truly brave person will always obey his conscience. To know what is right and not do it is cowardice.”
This is true. And it is true—to a greater or lesser degree at different times and in different ways—for all of us. That reality makes this story—which I’m going to reproduce in full—from President Kimball’s talk all the more meaningful:
There is the story told of Lord George Hall of an earlier time. It is a mythical story. Believe it or not, but at least take the lesson if you find one there. “Lord George had led an evil life. He had been a drunkard, a gambler, and a cheat in business, and his face reflected the life he had led. It was a very evil face.
“One day he fell in love with a simple country girl to whom he proposed marriage. Jenny Mere told him that she could never marry a man whose face was so repulsive and so evil-looking; and also that when she did marry, she wanted a man with a saintlike face, which was the mirror of true love.
“Following a custom of the day, Lord George went down to Mr. Aeneas in Bond Street, London. Aeneas made waxen masks for people, and his skill was so art-perfect that the person’s identity was completely hidden. As proof of his skill, it is said that many spendthrift debtors, equipped with his masks, could pass among their creditors unrecognized. Aeneas went to his storeroom, selected a mask, heated it over a lamp, fixed it to Lord George’s face; and when Lord George looked in the glass, he had the face of a saint who loved dearly. So altered was his appearance that Jenny Mere was soon wooed and won.
“He bought a little cottage in the country, almost hidden in an arbor of roses, with a tiny garden spot. From then on his entire life changed. He became interested in nature; he found ‘sermons in stones, books in brooks, and good in everything.’ Formerly he was blasé and life had no interest for him; now, he was engrossed in kindliness, and the world around him.
“He was not content with starting life anew, but tried to make amends for the past. Through a confidential solicitor he restored his ill-gotten gains to those whom he had cheated. Each day brought new refinements to his character, more beautiful thoughts to his soul.
“By accident, his former companions discovered his identity. They visited him in his garden, and urged him to return to his old evil life. When he refused, he was attacked, and the mask was torn from his face.
“He hung his head. Here was the end of all; here was the end of his newfound life and his love dream. As he stood with bowed head, with the mask at his feet on the grass, his wife rushed across the garden and threw herself on her knees in front of him. When she looked up at him, what do you suppose she found? Lo! Line for line, feature for feature, the face was the same as that of the mask. Lines of beauty—regular features.”
There is no doubt that the life one leads, and the thoughts one thinks are registered plainly in his face.
This story embodies the hope of all who wish to be good.
- Rebellion to God is Rebellion to Self by G
- We Need Women of Courage by Jan Tolman
- Never fail to respond by Marilyn Nielson