THE TRUE CITIZEN, HOW TO BECOME ONE
W. F. MARKWICK, D. D. AND W. A. SMITH, A. B.
This book, intended as a supplementary reader for pupils in the seventh and eighth grades of school, has been prepared with a view to meeting a real need of the times. While there are a large number of text-books, and several readers, dealing with citizenship from the political point of view, the higher aspects of citizenship—the moral and ethical—have been seriously overlooked.
The authors of this work have searched in vain for something which would serve as an aid to the joint development of the natural faculties and the moral instincts, so as to produce a well-rounded manhood, upon which a higher type of citizenship might be built. The development of character appears, to us, to be of far greater importance, in the preparation of the youth for the discharge of the duties of public life, than is mere political instruction; for only by introducing loftier ethical standards can the grade and quality of our citizenship be raised.
It is universally conceded that ethics and civics should go hand in hand; and yet pupils pass through our schools by the thousand, without having their attention definitely called to this important subject; and only an honest desire to aid in improving this state of affairs, has led to the preparation of these pages.
The plan of the book is simple in the extreme. It consists of thirty-nine chapters,—one for each week of the school year;—to eachof which has been prefixed five memory gems; one for each school day. Especial care has been taken to use only such language as will be perfectly intelligible to the pupils for whom it is intended.
The largest possible use has been made of anecdote and incident, so as to quicken the interest and hold the attention to the end. These anecdotes have been selected from every available quarter, and no claim of originality is made concerning them or their use.
Into each of those chapters which have to do directly with the development of the natural faculties, or the moral powers, a "special illustration" has been introduced; this being clearly marked off by the insertion of its title in bold-faced type. To these special illustrations a brief bibliography has been added, in order that a fuller study of the character presented may be readily pursued where deemed desirable. It is hoped that these special illustrations will not only serve to increase the general interest; but that, by thus bringing the pupil into direct contact with these greater minds, ambitions and aspirations may be aroused which shall prove helpful in the later life.
A careful presentation of each separate theme by the teacher, will not only increase the interest in the work of the schoolroom; but, by developing a higher type of citizenship, will be a real service to our nation.
I. THE CHILD.
I. THE EDUCATION OF THE NATURAL FACULTIES II. OBSERVATION III. OBEDIENCE IV. CANDOR V. AFFECTION VI. CHEERFULNESS VII. LOVE OF THE BEAUTIFUL VIII. LOVE OF KNOWLEDGE
II. THE YOUTH.
IX. THE FIRST TRANSITION PERIOD X. INDUSTRY XI. AMBITION XII. CONCENTRATION XIII. SELF-CONTROL XIV. PERSEVERANCE XV. PROMPTNESS XVI. HONESTY XVII. COURTESY XVIII. SELF-DENIAL XIX. SELF-RESPECT XX. CONSCIENTIOUSNESS XXI. ENTHUSIASM XXII. COURAGE XXIII. SELF-HELP XXIV. HUMILITY XXV. FAITHFULNESS
III. THE MAN.
XXVI. THE SECOND TRANSITION PERIOD XXVII. ORDER XXVIII. REVERENCE XXIX. SENTIMENT XXX. DUTY XXXI. TEMPERANCE XXXII. PATRIOTISM XXXIII. INDEPENDENCE XXXIV. THE IDEAL MAN
IV. THE CITIZEN.
XXXV. WHAT CONSTITUTES GOOD CITIZENSHIP? XXXVI. THE CITIZEN AND THE HOME XXXVII. THE CITIZEN AND THE COMMUNITY XXXVIII. THE CITIZEN AND THE NATION XXXIX. THE IDEAL CITIZEN
EDUCATION OF THE NATURAL FACULTIES.
Every man stamps his value on himself.—Schiller
No capital earns such interest as personal culture.—President Eliot
The end and aim of all education is the development of character. —Francis W. Parker
One of the best effects of thorough intellectual training is a knowledge of our own capacities.—Alexander Bain
Education is a growth toward intellectual and moral perfection. —Nicholas Murray Butler
Education begins in the home, is continued through the public school and college, and finds inviting and ever-widening opportunities and possibilities throughout the entire course of life. The mere acquisition of knowledge, or the simple development of the intellect alone, may be of little value. Many who have received such imperfect or one-sided education, have proved to be but ciphers in the world; while, again, intellectual giants have sometimes been found to be but intellectual demons. Indeed, some of the worst characters in history have been men of scholarly ability and of rare academic attainments.
The true education embraces the symmetrical development of mind, body and heart. An old and wise writer has said, "Cultivate the physical exclusively, and you have an athlete or a savage; the moral only, and you have an enthusiast or a maniac; the intellectual only, and you have a diseased oddity,—it may be a monster. It is only by wisely training all of them together that the complete man may be found."
To cultivate anything—be it a plant, an animal, or a mind—is to make it grow. Nothing admits of culture but that which has a principle of life capable of being expanded. He, therefore, who does what he can to unfold all his powers and capacities, especially his nobler ones, so as to become a well-proportioned, vigorous, excellent, happy being, practices self-culture, and secures a true education.
It is a commonplace remark that "a man's faculties are strengthened by use, and weakened by disuse." To change the form of statement, they grow when they are fed and nourished, and decay when they are not fed and nourished. Moreover, every faculty demands appropriate food. What nourishes one will not always nourish another. Accordingly, one part of man's nature may grow while another withers; and one part may be fed and strengthened at the expense of another.
In Hawthorne's beautiful allegory, the "Great Stone Face," you remember how the man Ernest, by daily and admiring contemplation of the face, its dignity, its serenity, its benevolence, came, all unconsciously to himself, to possess the same qualities, and to be transformed by them, until at last he stood revealed to his neighbors as the long promised one, who should be like the Great Stone Face. So in every human life, the unrealized self is the unseen but all-powerful force that brings into subjection the will, guides the conduct, and determines the character.
"The early life of Washington is singularly transparent as to the creation and influence of the ideal. We see how one quality after another was added, until the character became complete. Manly strength, athletic power and skill, appear first; then, courtesy and refined manners; then, careful and exact business habits; then, military qualities; then, devotion to public service."
Steadily, but rapidly, the transforming work went on, until the man was complete; the ideal was realized. Henceforth, the character, the man, appears under all the forms of occupation and office. Legislator, commander, president; the man is in them all, though he is none of them.
Half the blunders of humanity come from not knowing one's self. If we overrate our abilities, we attempt more than we can accomplish; if we underrate our abilities we fail to accomplish much that we attempt. In both cases the life loses just so much from its sum of power.
He who might wield the golden scepter of the pen, never gets beyond the plow; or perhaps he who ought to be a shoemaker attempts the artistic career of an Apelles. When a life-work presents itself we ought to be able from our self-knowledge to say, "I am, or am not, fitted to be useful in that sphere."
Sydney Smith represents the various parts in life by holes of different shapes upon a table—some circular, some triangular, some square, some oblong—and the persons acting these parts, by bits of wood of similar shapes, and he says, "we generally find that the triangular person has gotten into the square hole, the oblong into the triangular, and a square fellow has squeezed into the round hole."
A fundamental need is to find out the elements of power within us, and how they can be trained to good service and yoked to the chariot of influence. We need to know exactly for what work or sphere we are best fitted, so that when opportunities for service open before us, we may invest our mental capital with success and profit.
Self-knowledge must not be confused with self-conceit; for it implies no immodesty or egotism. Even if the faithful study of one's self reveals a high order of natural gifts, it is not needful to imitate the son of the Emerald Isle who always lifted his hat and made an obsequious bow when he spoke of himself or mentioned his own name. George Eliot hits off pompous self-conceit happily when she likens its possessor to "a cock that thinks the sun rises in the morning to hear him crow."
Margaret Fuller wrote: "I now know all the people in America worth knowing, and I have found no intellect comparable with my own." Even if she did not overrate herself, such self-estimate implied no little boldness in expression. We also read in Greek history, how, when the commanders of the allied fleets gave in, by request, a list of the names of those who had shown the highest valor and skill at the battle of Salamis, each put his own name first, graciously according to Themistocles, the real hero of the day, the second rank.
Not a few come to know themselves only through failures and disappointments. Strangers to their own defects—perhaps also to their own powers—they see how they might have succeeded only when success is finally forfeited. Their eyes open too late. A Southern orator tells of a little colored lad who very much wished to have a kitten from a newborn litter, and whose mistress promised that, as soon as they wer old enough, he should take one. Too impatient to wait, he slyly carried one off to his hut. Its eyes were not open, and, in disgust, he drowned it. But, subsequently finding the kitten lying in the pail dead, but with open eyes, he exclaimed, "Umph! When you's alive, you's blind. Now you's dead, you see!" It will be a real calamity to us if our eyes only open when it is too late to make our life of any use.
All true life-power has a basis of high moral integrity. Far higher in the scale than any life of impulse, passion, or even opinion, is the life regulated by principle. The end of life is something more than pleasure. Man is not a piece of vitalized sponge, to absorb all into himself. The essentials of happiness are something to love, something to hope for, something to do—affection, aspiration, action.
We must also educate our dispositions. Some one has said: "Disposition is a lens through which men and things are seen. A fiery temper, like a red glass, gives to all objects a lurid glare; a melancholic temper, like a blue lens, imparts its own hue; through the green spectacles of jealousy every one else becomes an object of distrust and dislike; and he who looks through the black glass of malice, finds others wearing the aspect of his own malevolence. Only the cheerful and charitable soul sees through a clear and colorless medium, whose transparency shows the world as it is."
Disposition has also its concave and convex lenses, which magnify some things and minify others. The self-satisfied man sees every one's faults in giant proportions; and every one's virtues, but his own, dwarfed into insignificance. To the fretful man others seem fretful; to the envious man, envious; and so with the well-disposed, gentle, and generous; sunshine prevails over shadows. The world is different to different observers, largely because they have different media through which they look at it.
Cheerful tempers manufacture solace and joy out of very unpromising material. They are the magic alchemists who extract sweet essences out of bitter herbs, like the old colored woman in the smoky hut, who was "glad of anything to make a smoke with," and, though she had but two teeth, thanked God they were "opposite each other!"
Goodness outranks even uprightness, because the good man aims to do good to others. Uprightness is the beauty of integrity; goodness is the loveliness of benevolence. The good man visits the hut of misery, the hovel of poverty, leaving in a gentle and delicate way, a few comforts for the table or wardrobe, dainties for the fevered palate of the sick, or such other helps as the case may call for, as far as his means and circumstances will allow.
A true education should cover all these points, and many others also; but it must never be allowed to destroy the pupil's individuality. It must teach that a person can be himself, and study all the models he pleases. Webster studied the orations of Cicero so thoroughly that he could repeat most of them by heart; but they did not destroy or compromise his individuality, because he did not try to be Cicero. It has been said that Michael Angelo, who was the most original of ancient or modern artists, was more familiar with the model statues and paintings of the world than any other man. He studied the excellences of all the great works of art, not to copy or imitate them, but to develop his powers. "As the food he consumed became bone and muscle by assimilation; so, by mental assimilation, the knowledge he acquired by art-models entered into the very composition of his mind."
The more thoroughly a man's nature is developed under the influences of a good education, the more justly does he claim the liberty of thought and action, and a suitable field whereon to think and act. The materials of useful and honorable life—of life aiming at great and noble ends—are within him. He feels it, he knows it to be so; and a denial uttered by ten thousand voices would not check the ardor of his pursuit, or induce him to surrender one atom of his claim. His claim involves a right. He is as conscious of it as of his existence. His mind has acquired the power of observing, reasoning, reflecting, judging, and acting; and he feels that, like a pendulum, the action of his mind is capable of giving activity, force, and value, to a large body of well-compacted machinery, of which he is a part.
It is the mind that acts as the universal pendulum; and if its liberty of action be circumscribed, and its vibrations consequently fall short of the mark, then its power will be crippled, and the life, as a whole will be imperfect and incomplete.
We get out of Nature what we carry to her.—Katherine Hagar
Fools learn nothing from wise men, but wise men learn much from fools. —Lavater
The non-observant man goes through the forest and sees no firewood. —Russian Proverb
Some men will learn more in a country stage-ride than others in a tour of Europe.—Dr. Johnson
The world is full of thoughts, and you will find them strewed everywhere in your path.—Elihu Burritt
All conscious life begins in observation. We say of a baby, "See how he notices!" By this statement we really call attention to the fact that the child is beginning to be interested in things separate from and outside of himself. Up to this time he has seen but not observed, for to observe is to "see with attention"; to "notice with care"; to see with the mind as well as with the eye. There are many persons who see almost everything but observe almost nothing. They are forever fluttering over the surface of things, but put forth no real effort to secure and preserve the ideas they ought to gather from the scenes through which they pass.
Every boy and girl in the land, possessing a good pair of eyes, has the means for acquiring a vast store of knowledge. As the child, long before he can talk, obtains a pretty good idea of the little world that lies within his vision; so may all bright, active boys and girls obtain, by correct habits of observation, a knowledge that will the better fit them for the active duties of manhood and womanhood.
The active, observing eye is the sign of intelligence; while the vacant, listless stare of indifference betokens an empty brain. The eyes are placed in an elevated position that they may better observe all that comes within their range. These highways to the soul should always stand wide open, ready to carry inward all such impressions as will add to our knowledge.
No object the eye ever beholds, no sound, however slight, caught by the ear, or anything once passing the turnstile of any of the senses, is ever again let go. The eye is a perpetual camera, imprinting upon the sensitive mental plates, and packing away in the brain for future use, every face, every plant and flower, every scene upon the street, in fact, everything which comes within its range. It should, therefore, be easy to discern that since mere seeing may create false impressions in the mind, and that only by careful observation can we gather for future use such impressions as are thoroughly reliable, we cannot well overestimate the importance of its cultivation.
It is beyond question that childhood and early youth are the most favorable periods for the cultivation of this faculty. Not only is the mind then more free from care, and, therefore, more at leisure to observe, but it is also more easy to interest one's self in the common things, which, while they lie nearest to us, make up by far the greater portion of our lives. Experience also proves that a person is not a good observer at the age of twenty, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred he will never become one. "The student," says Hugh Miller, "should learn to make a right use of his eyes; the commonest things are worth looking at; even the stones and weeds, and the most familiar animals. Then in early manhood he is prepared to study men and things in a way to make success easy and sure."
Houdin, the magician, spent a month in cultivating the observing powers of his son. Together they walked rapidly past the window of a large toy store. Then each would write down the things that he had seen. The boy soon became so expert that one glance at a show window would enable him to write down the names of forty different objects. The boy could easily outdo his father.
The power of observation in the American Indian would put many an educated white man to shame. Returning home, an Indian discovered that his venison, which had been hanging up to dry, had been stolen. After careful observation he started to track the thief through the woods. Meeting a man on the route, he asked him if he had seen a little, old, white man, with a short gun, and with a small bob-tailed dog. The man told him he had met such a man, but was surprised to find that the Indian had not even seen the one he described. He asked the Indian how he could give such a minute description of a man whom he had never seen.
"I knew the thief was a little man," said the Indian, "because he rolled up a stone to stand on in order to reach the venison; I knew he was an old man by his short steps; I knew he was a white man by his turning out his toes in walking, which an Indian never does; I knew he had a short gun by the mark it left on the tree where he had stood it up; I knew the dog was small by his tracks and short steps, and that he had a bob-tail by the mark it left in the dust where he sat."
The poet Longfellow has also dwelt upon the power of observation in the early training of Hiawatha. You will perhaps recall the lines:
"Then the little Hiawatha Learned of every bird its language, Learned their names and all their secrets, How they built their nests in summer, Where they hid themselves in winter, Talked with them whene'er he met them, Called them 'Hiawatha's Chickens.'"
The most noted men of every land and age have acquired their fame by carrying into effect ideas suggested by or obtained from observation.
The head of a large commercial firm was once asked why he employed such an ignorant man for a buyer. He replied: "It is true that our buyer cannot spell correctly; but when anything comes within the range of his eyes, he sees all that there is to be seen. He buys over a million dollars' worth a year for us, and I cannot recall any instance when he failed to notice a defect in any line of goods or any feature that would be likely to render them unsalable." This man's highly developed power of observation was certainly of great value.
Careful observers become accurate thinkers. These are the men that are needed everywhere and by everybody. By observation the scholar gets more out of his books, the traveler more enjoyment from the beauties of nature, and the young person who is quick to read human character avoids companions that would be likely to lead him into the ways of vice and folly, and perhaps cause his life to become a total wreck.
JOHN JAMES AUDUBON.
In 1828 a wonderful book, "The Birds of America," by John James Audubon, was issued. It is a good illustration of what has been accomplished by beginning in one's youth to use the powers of observation. Audubon loved and studied birds. Even in his infancy, lying under the orange trees on his father's plantation in Louisiana, he listened to the mocking bird's song, watching and observing every motion as it flitted from bough to bough. When he was older he began to sketch every bird that he saw, and soon showed so much talent that he was taken to France to be educated.
He entered cheerfully and earnestly upon his studies, and more than a year was devoted to mathematics; but whenever it was possible he rambled about the country, using his eyes and fingers, collecting more specimens, and sketching with such assiduity that when he left France, only seventeen years old, he had finished two hundred drawings of French birds. At this period he tells us that "it was not the desire of fame which prompted to this devotion; it was simply the enjoyment of nature."
A story is told of his lying on his back in the woods with some moss for his pillow, and looking through a telescopic microscope day after day to watch a pair of little birds while they made their nest. Their peculiar grey plumage harmonized with the color of the bark of the tree, so that it was impossible to see the birds except by the most careful observation. After three weeks of such patient labor, he felt that he had been amply rewarded for the toil and sacrifice by the results he had obtained.
His power of observation gave him great happiness, from the time he rambled as a boy in the country in search of treasures of natural history, till, in his old age, he rose with the sun and went straightway to the woods near his home, enjoying still the beauties and wonders of Nature. His strength of purpose and unwearied energy, combined with his pure enthusiasm, made him successful in his work as a naturalist; but it was all dependent on the habit formed in his boyhood,—this habit of close and careful observation; and he not only had this habit of using his eyes, but he looked at and studied things worth seeing, worth remembering.
This brief sketch of Audubon's boyhood shows the predominant traits of his character,—his power of observation, the training of the eye and hand, that made him in manhood "the most distinguished of American ornithologists," with so much scientific ardor and perseverance that no expedition seemed dangerous, or solitude inaccessible, when he was engaged in his favorite study.
He has left behind him, as the result of his labors, his great book on "The Birds of America," in ten volumes; and illustrated with four hundred and forty-eight colored plates of over one thousand species of birds, all drawn by his own hand, and each bird being represented in its natural size; also a "Biography of American Birds," in five large volumes, in which he describes their habits and customs. He was associated with Dr. Bachman of Philadelphia, in the preparation of a work on "The Quadrupeds of America," in six large volumes, the drawings for which were made by his two sons; and, later on, published his "Biography of American Quadrupeds," a work similar to the "Biography of the Birds." He died at what is known as "Audubon Park," on the Hudson, now within the limits of New York city, in 1851, at the age of seventy.
[Footnote: For fuller information concerning Audubon, consult "Life and Adventures of John J. Audubon," by Robert Buchanan (New York, 1869); Griswold's "Prose Writers of America" (Philadelphia, 1847); Mrs. Horace St. John's "Audubon the Naturalist" (New York, 1856); Rev. C. C. Adams's "Journal of the Life and Labors of J. J. Audubon" (Boston, 1860), and "Audubon and his Journals," by M. R. Audubon (New York, 1897).]
Love makes obedience easy.—T. Watson
The education of the will is the object of our existence.—Emerson
To learn obeying is the fundamental art of governing.—Carlyle
True obedience neither procrastinates nor questions.—Francis Quarles
If thou wouldst be obeyed as a father, be obedient as a son. —William Penn
By obedience is meant submission to authority, and to proper restraint and control. It is the doing of that which we are told to do; and the refraining from that which is forbidden. At its very best it may be defined as the habit of yielding willingly to command or restraint.
As observation forms the first step in the culture of the mind, so obedience forms the first step in the building of the character. It is as important to the life as is the foundation to the house. Thomas Carlyle has well said that "Obedience is our universal duty and destiny, wherein whosoever will not bend must break." It is impossible to escape from it altogether, and it is therefore wise to learn to obey as early in life as possible.
It does not take very long for a child to learn that it cannot do everything that it would like to do. The wishes of others must be regarded. These wishes spring from a knowledge of what is best. Children, with their limited experiences, cannot always foresee the consequences of their doings. For their own good they must not be allowed to do anything that would result in harm to themselves or to others. Some one must oversee and direct them until they can act intelligently. Obedience is one of the principal laws of the family. The harmony and peace of the entire household depend upon it.
True obedience does not argue nor dispute; neither does it delay nor murmur. It goes directly to work to fulfil the commands laid upon us, or to refrain from doing that which is forbidden. "Sir," said the Duke of Wellington to an officer of engineers, who urged the impossibility of executing his orders, "I did not ask your opinion. I gave you my orders, and I expect them to be obeyed."
A story is told of a great captain, who, after a battle, was talking over the events of the day with his officers. He asked them who had done the best that day. Some spoke of one man who had fought very bravely, and some of another. "No," said he, "you are all mistaken. The best man in the field to-day was a soldier, who was just lifting his arm to strike an enemy, but when he heard the trumpet sound a retreat, checked himself, and dropped his arm without striking a blow. That perfect and ready obedience to the will of his general, is the noblest thing that has been done to-day."
The instant obedience of the child is as beautiful and as important as that of the soldier. The unhesitating obedience which springs from a loving confidence is beautifully illustrated in the following incident: A switchman in Prussia was stationed at the junction of two lines of railroad. His hand was on the lever for a train that was approaching. The engine was within a few seconds of reaching his signal box when, on turning his head, the switchman saw his little boy playing on the line of rails over which the train was to pass. "Lie down!" he shouted to the child; but, he himself, remained at his post. The train passed safely on its way. The father rushed forward, expecting to take up a corpse; but what was his joy on finding that the boy had obeyed his order so promptly that the whole train had passed over him without injury. The next day the king sent for the man and attached to his breast the medal for civil courage.
A cheerful obedience is one of the strongest proofs of love. "Love is to obedience like wings to the bird, or sails to the ship. It is the agency that carries it forward to success. When love cools, obedience slackens; and nothing is worthy of the name of love that leads to disobedience."
We remember the anecdote of a Roman commander, who forbade an engagement with the enemy, and the first transgressor was his own son. He accepted the challenge of the leader of the other host, slew and disrobed him, and then in triumph carried the spoils to his father's tent. But the Roman father refused to recognize the instinct which prompted this, as deserving the name of love.
Many of the restraints laid upon us result from the love of those in authority. If we were permitted to pursue our own inclinations, our health might be destroyed, our minds run to waste, and we should be apt to grow up slothful and selfish; a trouble to others and burdensome to ourselves. It is far easier to obey our parents and friends when we recall that we have experienced their goodness long enough to know that they wish to make us happy, even when their commands seem most severe. Let us, therefore, show our appreciation of their goodness by doing cheerfully what they require.
The will is supported, strengthened, and perfected by obedience. There are many who suppose that real strength of will is secured by giving it free play. But we really weaken it in that way. Obedience to a reasonable law is a source of moral strength and power. Obedience is not weakness bowing to strength, but is rather submission to an authority whose claims are already admitted. If a man is royal when he rules over nature, and yet more royal when he rules his brother man, is he not most royal when he so rules himself as to do the right even when it is distasteful?
A man who had declared his aversion for what he called the dry facts of political economy, was found one day knitting his brows over a book on that subject. When a friend expressed surprise, the man replied: "I am playing the schoolmaster with myself. I am reading this because I dislike it."
Difficulties are often really helpful. They enlarge our experience and incite us to do our best. "The head of Hercules," says Ruskin, "was always represented as covered with a lion's skin, with the claws joining under the chin, to show that when we had conquered our misfortunes they became a help to us."
One of the greatest hindrances to obedience is a false pride. The thought of living under the will and direction of another is exceedingly unpleasant, and where such a pride bears rule in the heart, a cheerful obedience is almost an impossibility. We often fail to obey simply because we are unwilling to acknowledge ourselves in the wrong.
Obedience is also hindered by ignorance. One of our commonest errors is that which teaches that authority is always pleasant, and submission always painful. The actual experiences of life prove that the place of command is usually a position of great anxiety, while the place of obedience is generally one of ease and freedom from care.
Indolence also opposes obedience. In our selfish love of ease we allow duties to go undone until the habit of disobedience becomes almost unnoticeable; but when we find ourselves compelled to resist it, we then discover that to break away from its power is one of the hardest tasks we can be called upon to perform.
THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE.
A very striking example of prompt and unquestioning obedience is furnished us in that famous "Charge of the Light Brigade" at Balaclava, during the Crimean War, of which you have all doubtless heard. A series of engagements between the Russians on the one side, and the English and their allies on the other side, took place near this little town, on October 25, 1854. The Russians were for a time victorious, and at last threatened the English port of Balaclava itself. The attack was diverted by a brilliant charge of the Heavy Brigade, led by General Scarlett. Then, through a misunderstanding of the orders of Lord Raglan, the commander-in-chief, Lord Cardigan was directed to charge the Russian artillery at the northern extremity of the Balaclava valley with the Light Brigade, then under his command.
Lord Cardigan was an exceedingly unpopular officer, and greatly disliked by all his men, But no sooner was the order given than, with a battery in front of them, and one on either side, the Light Brigade hewed its way past these deadly engines of war and routed the enemy's cavalry. Of the six hundred and seventy horsemen who made the charge, only one hundred and ninety-eight returned. As an act of war it was madness. In the opinion of the most competent judges there was no good end to be gained by it. But as an act of soldierly obedience it was sublime. The deed has been immortalized by the poet Tennyson in the following verses:
I. Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. "Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!" he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
II. "Forward, the Light Brigade!" Was there a man dismay'd? Not tho' the soldier knew Some one had blunder'd: Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
III. Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them Volley'd and thunder'd; Storm'd at with shot and shell Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell Rode the six hundred.
IV. Flash'd all their sabers bare, Flash'd as they turn'd in air Sabring the gunners there, Charging an army, while All the world wonder'd: Plunged in the battery-smoke, Right thro' the line they broke; Cossack and Russian Reel'd from the saber-stroke Shattered and sunder'd. Then they rode back, but not Not the six hundred.
V. Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon behind them Volley'd and thunder'd; Storm'd at with shot and shell, While horse and hero fell, They that had fought so well Came thro' the jaws of Death Back from the mouth of Hell, All that was left of them, Left of six hundred.
VI. When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wonder'd. Honor the charge they made! Honor the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred!
[Footnote: For the story of the Crimean War, consult "Encyclopedia Britannica", Vol. VIII., p. 366; also Vol. XVII., pp. 228 and 486.]
Truth lies at the bottom of the well.—Old Proverb
Candor looks with equal fairness at both sides of a subject. —Noah Webster
Daylight and truth meet us with clear dawn.—Milton
Perfect openness is the only principle on which a free people can be governed.—C. B. Yonge
There is no fear for any child who is frank with his father and mother.—Buskin
Candor and frankness are so closely akin to each other that we may properly study them together. Each of these words has an interesting origin. "Candor" comes from a Latin word meaning "to be white"; while "frankness" is derived from the name of the Franks, who were a powerful German tribe honorably distinguished for their love of freedom and their scorn of a lie. A candid man is one who is disposed to think and judge according to truth and justice, and without partiality or prejudice; while the one word frank is used to express anything that is generous, straightforward and free.
Candor is a virtue which is everywhere commended, though not quite so prevalent in the world as might be expected. There are doctors who never tell a patient they can make nothing of his case, or that it is one which requires the attention of a specialist. There are lawyers who never assure a client that it is hopeless for him to expect to gain his suit. And so, in all trades and professions, candor is as rare as it is good.
The lack of a simple and straightforward statement of such facts as are in our possession, often leads to serious misunderstanding and sometimes to serious loss.
Frankness is a combination of truthfulness and courage. Its usefulness depends largely on its association with other qualities and circumstances; but to be frank is simply to dare to be truthful. There are many men who would scorn to tell a lie, who are destitute of frankness because they hesitate to face the consequences of perfect openness of speech or conduct.
An Irishman, who had neglected to thatch his cottage, was one day asked by a gentleman with whom he was conversing, "Did it rain yesterday?" Instead of making a direct and candid reply, he sought to hide his fault, which he supposed had been discovered; and the conversation proceeded as follows. "Did it rain yesterday?" asked his friend. "Is it yesterday you mean?" was the reply. "Yes, yesterday." "Please your honor, I wasn't at the bog at all yesterday,—wasn't I after setting my potatoes?" "My good friend, I don't know what you mean about the bog; I only asked you whether it rained yesterday?" "Please your honor, I couldn't get a car and horse any way, to draw home my little straw, or I'd have the house thatched long ago." "Cannot you give me a plain answer to this plain question—Did it rain yesterday?" "Oh sure, I wouldn't go to tell your honor a lie about the matter. Sorrah much it rained yesterday after twelve o'clock, barring a few showers." Of course there will be no difficulty in seeing that such a conversation could not be entirely satisfactory to either party.
The virtue we are now recommending is in daily and hourly demand, and of high and priceless value. But here also we must beware of counterfeits. A smooth outward manner, a countenance clothed with perpetual smiles, and an address distinguished by gentleness and insinuation, may be assumed for selfish ends. A truly candid man is neither carried away by ungenerous suspicion, nor by a weak acceptance of the views of others; and the whole constitution of his mind must be entirely changed before he can become capable of deceit.
Frankness has often been counterfeited by mere bluster. A couple of striking examples of this fact are brought into view in the recently published "Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," in which, speaking of his childhood, Mr. Darwin says: "One little event has fixed itself very firmly in my mind, and I hope it has done so from my conscience having been afterward sorely troubled by it. It is curious as showing that apparently I was interested at this early age in the variability of plants! I told another little boy that I could produce variously colored primroses by watering them with certain colored fluids, which was of course a monstrous fable, and has never been tried by me. I may here also confess that as a little boy I was much given to inventing deliberate falsehoods, and this was always done for the sake of causing excitement. For instance, I once gathered much valuable fruit from my father's trees and hid it in the shrubbery, and then ran in breathless haste to spread the news that I had discovered a hoard of stolen fruit."
Mr. Darwin also relates the following incident, as illustrating the lack of truthfulness and candor on the part of another: "I must have been a very simple fellow when I first went to school. A boy of the name of Garnett took me into a cake shop one day, and bought some cakes for which he did not pay, as the shopman trusted him. When we came out I asked him why he did not pay for them, and he instantly answered, 'Why, do you not know that my uncle left a great sum of money to the town on condition that every tradesman should give whatever was wanted without payment to any one who wore his old hat and moved it in a particular manner?' He then showed me how to move the hat, and said, 'Now, if you would like to go yourself into that cake shop, I will lend you my hat, and you can get whatever you like if you move the hat on your head properly.' I gladly accepted the generous offer, and went in and asked for some cakes, moved the old hat, and was walking out of the shop, when the shopman made a rush at me; so I dropped the cakes and ran for dear life, and was astonished by being greeted with shouts of laughter by my false friend Garnett." The same truth is illustrated in the case of an affected young lady who, on being asked, in a large company, if she had read Shakespeare, assumed a look of astonishment and replied: "Read Shakespeare! Of course I have! I read that when it first came out!"
Frankness and candor will always win respect and friendship, and will always retain them; and the consciousness of having such a treasure, and of being worthy of it, is more than wealth and honors. A man quickly finds when he is unworthy of public respect or private friendship; and the leaden weight he carries ever in his heart, cannot be lightened by any success or any gratification he may secure. But the man of upright character, and proper self-respect, will never meet with such trials as can deprive him of that higher happiness which rests in his own breast.
True candor is manly and leads directly to the development of nobility both of principle and conduct. The late Hon. William P. Fessenden once made a remark which was understood as an insult to Mr. Seward. When informed of it, and seeing such a meaning could be given to his words, he instantly went to Mr. Seward, and said, "Mr. Seward, I have insulted you: I am sorry for it. I did not mean it." This apology, so prompt, frank, and perfect, so delighted Mr. Seward, that, grasping him by the hand, he exclaimed, "God bless you, Fessenden! I wish you would insult me again!" Such an exhibition of real manliness as this may well be cited as worthy of the imitation of the youth of the land.
In "Tom Brown's Schooldays," that charming book, so dear to all wide-awake boys, there is a scene in which little Arthur is introduced in the act of kneeling beside his bed, on his first night at school, for the purpose of saying his prayers according to the custom he had always observed at his home. We are not so much concerned with the fact that he was ridiculed and persecuted by the older boys, as with the further factthat this boy Arthur is said to bear a remarkable resemblance to Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, whose name is everywhere known as the late Dean of Westminster Abbey, the most famous church in England, if not of the world at large. Arthur Stanley was one of the first boys to go to Rugby after the great Dr. Arnold took charge of the school, and an early illustration of his candor and open-mindedness is shown in his immediate and public appreciation of the splendid qualities of his master, at a time when Dr. Arnold was so generally abused, and even branded as an infidel. Dr. Arnold was indeed a noble teacher, and the very man to develop the best faculties in young Arthur Stanley; for one of the doctor's own strongest traits was this same open-mindedness. The frankness and candor, the directness and fearlessness with which Stanley ever gave expression to his views; the purity and "whiteness" of his mind, and the sweetness and tenderness of his disposition,—all these had a part in the building of his fame. But it was chiefly in his power to free himself from prejudice and to look fairly at all sides of the complex questions with which both he and the church to which he belonged were so frequently brought face to face, that gave him his great popular influence, and made him so great a champion of religious liberty. Truth, simplicity and innocence are three jewels which many men barter for worldly honor and success; but Stanley held to these as with a grip of steel; and, through their influence, he succeeded where a score of the great men of his day had already failed.
To tell of all that candor and frankness have done for humanity would be to trace the beginnings of the overthrow of almost every wrong. Other qualities are of course essential to all noble reformers—courage and faith and enthusiasm; but open-mindedness, which grows out of candor and frankness, is the one pioneer that recognizes the opportunity of the hour and is willing to walk in the new light. Candor is the sign of a noble mind. It is the pride of the true man, the charm of the noble woman, the defeat and mockery of the hypocrite, and the rarest virtue of society.
[Footnote: An admirable sketch of the career of Dean Stanley will be found in Johnson's Universal Cyclopedia, Vol. VII., p. 697. See also "Life of Dean Stanley," by R. E. Prothero (London and New York, 1894).]
Gratitude is the music of the heart.—Robert South.
The best way of recognizing a benefit is never to forget it. —J. J. Barthelmey
The affection and the reason are both necessary factors in morality. —Fowler
True love burns hottest when the weather is coldest.—Swinnock
The mind has a thousand eyes, And the heart but one; Yet the light of a whole life dies When love is done.—F. W. Bourdillon
One of the most powerful forces in the building of character is affection; and one of the most common forms of its manifestation is gratitude. The exercise of affection makes us tender and loving toward all living persons and creatures about us; while the exercise of gratitude usually results in making them tender and loving toward us.
Every boy and girl should endeavor to cultivate this spirit of affectionate consideration for the feelings of others, and should be careful not to speak any word, or do any act, or even give any look which can cause unnecessary pain. And yet there are many young people, who have never been taught better, who take exceeding pleasure in causing annoyance and even suffering to all with whom they have to do. This is done with the simple idea of having a little fun; but it is one of the worst habits we can possibly form, and should be carefully avoided by all who would command the respect and esteem which every young person should desire to possess.
Perhaps you have heard the story of the youth who, while walking out with his tutor, saw a pair of shoes that a poor laborer had left under a hedge while he was busied with his work. "What fun it would be," exclaimed the young man, "to hide these shoes, and then to conceal ourselves behind the hedge, and see the man's surprise and excitement when he cannot find them." "I will tell you what would be better sport," said the tutor; "put a piece of money into one of the shoes, and then hide and watch his surprise when he finds it." This the young man did; and the joy and wonder of the poor laborer when he found the money in his shoe was as good fun as he wanted.
We all know what the feeling of gratitude is. We have said "Thank you," a great many times; and have often felt really grateful in our hearts for gifts and favors received. But we are too apt to forget that we have any one to thank for the most important benefits of our lives. When we stop to think, we see that all we have done or can do for ourselves is very little indeed in comparison with what has been done for us.
How much we owe to our parents! What other creature in the world is so helpless as the human infant? Leave a little baby to take care of itself, and how long do you suppose it would live? How many of us would be alive to-day, if in our earliest years we had not been provided for and watched over with tender care? But the outward benefits for which children have to thank their parents are of less value than the lessons of truth and goodness which are never so well taught as by the lips of a faithful and devoted father and mother. To these lessons the greatest and best men generally look back with the deepest gratitude.
A child's affection for his parents ought to make him tender toward them when age or disease has made them irritable or complaining. A love that only accepts, and never gives, is not worthy of the name.
Sometimes we hear of old men and women who are left to die alone, whose children have deserted them, and who have no friends in the world. These cases seem pitiful enough, and it breaks our hearts to think of them. But usually the men and women who are left desolate in their old age are those who have been unloving in their youth. "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly," and an aged man or woman who has made friends through life, and been full of love and affection toward others, is tolerably sure to be tenderly cared for in later years. But true affection is never eager for returns. We love because we must love; never because we expect to be loved in return. We do for others because we wish to make them happy; and not because we wish them to do for us.
Kindness and generosity have their place in the playground. There may be thoughtfulness for one who is weaker than the rest, or who is a newcomer, or who, for any reason, is neglected by others. There is an opportunity to stand up for those who are ill-used. There is a generous sympathy for those who, in any way, are having a hard time.
In all these ways boys and girls, when they are at play, show pretty well what they are going to be in later life. When Napoleon was at a military school, the boys were one day playing at war. One set of them held a fort which the others were trying to capture. The boy, Napoleon, led the attacking party. In the midst of the fight there was a flourish of trumpets, and a party of officers entered, who had come to inspect the school. The boys that held the fort forgot their play, and stood staring at the entering group. Napoleon did not lose his head for a moment. He kept his party up to their work. He took advantage of the interruption, and when the besieged recovered their wits, their fort was captured. He was already the Napoleon who in the real battles of later years knew how to turn so many seemingly adverse circumstances to good account.
We always think of Sir Walter Scott as a very affectionate man; but once when he was a boy he saw a dog coming toward him and carelessly threw a stone at him. The stone broke the dog's leg. The poor creature had strength to crawl up to him and lick his feet. This incident, he afterward said, had given him the bitterest remorse. He never forgot it. From that moment he resolved never to be unkind to any animal. We know that he kept that resolution, for he wrote many of his novels with his faithful dogs Maida, Nimrod, and Bran near him. When Maida died he had a sculptured monument of her set up before his door.
We all know boys who throw stones at animals from pure thoughtlessness and love of fun. But no boy with a really affectionate nature can bear to make an animal or a human being suffer pain. A boy who begins by being cruel to animals usually ends by being cruel to women and children. A girl who habitually forgets to feed her kitten or her canary birds, will be apt to forget her child later in life.
Half a century ago there lived in the state of Massachusetts a very remarkable man named Thoreau. This man became so deeply interested in the animal world that he built a little hut for himself near Walden pond, and he there lived in the closest sympathy with the birds and animals for more than two years. It is said that even the snakes loved him, and would wind round his legs; and on taking a squirrel from a tree the little creature would hide its head in his waistcoat. The fish in the river knew him and would let him lift them out of the water, and the little wood-mice came and nibbled at the cheese he held in his hand. It was Thoreau's love for the little wild creatures which drew them to him, for animals are as responsive to love as are human beings.
John Howard gave his life to the work of improving the condition of prisons all over the world, and finally he died alone in Russia of jail fever. He was followed in his labors by Elizabeth Fry in England, and by Dorothea Dix in America. These noble philanthropists were filled with unselfish love toward suffering humanity. They devoted their lives to the neglected and forsaken, including the whole world in their generous hearts; and their names and deeds will never be forgotten.
There are two principal ways in which our kindly feelings may be made known: First, in our words. It is pleasant to those who do us favors to know that we appreciate their kindness, and we should never fail to tell them so. This is often all the return that they expect or ask; besides, it is good for us. We strengthen our feelings by giving them suitable expression. Loveless at last is the home in which no word of love is ever heard. The grateful feeling to which one gives utterance kindles the same feeling in the hearts of those who hear.
Second, in our deeds. If we are really grateful we are not satisfied with simply saying, "Thank you," to those who have been kind to us, even when we know this is all they expect. We wish to render them some service in return. In the case of our parents, as long as they are with us, we can best do this by doing cheerfully what they ask us to do, by thoughtfully anticipating their wishes, and by trying to be as pure and good as we know they want us to be.
Abraham Lincoln was a poor boy. His early life was full of hardships; but many a kind friend helped him in his struggle against poverty. Among these friends of his early youth was one, Jack Armstrong, of New Salem, Illinois, whose kind, good-hearted wife performed for Lincoln many a motherly act of kindness. She made his clothes and "got him something to eat while he rocked the baby." Years passed by. Lincoln became a successful lawyer. Soon after he had entered upon the practice of his profession at Springfield, his old friend, Jack Armstrong died. The baby whom Lincoln had rocked grew into a stout but dissolute young man. He was arrested, charged with the crime of murder. "Aunt Hannah," as Lincoln used to call her, was heartbroken with sorrow for her poor, misguided boy. In her grief she appealed to the "noble, good Abe," who had rocked her son when he was a baby. The appeal brought tears to the eyes of Lincoln. His generous heart was touched. He resolved to discharge the debt of gratitude which neither his great success in life nor the intervening years had erased from his memory. He pledged his services without charge.
"Aunt Hannah" believed that her boy was innocent and that others wished to fasten the crime upon him because of his bad reputation. The circumstances of the case were as follows: While Armstrong was in the company of several fast young men, they became intoxicated. A "free fight" ensued in which a young fellow named Metzgar was killed. After hearing the facts, Lincoln was convinced that the young man was not guilty, and resolved to do his best to save him from the gallows.
Lincoln secured a postponement of the trial and spent much time in tracing the evidence. He labored as hard to pay his old debt of gratitude as he would have done if he had been offered a five thousand dollar fee.
The day for the trial came. Lincoln threw his whole soul into the effort to defend the life of his client. He succeeded in proving his innocence beyond the shadow of a doubt. The closing of his plea was a marvel of eloquence. He depicted the loneliness and sorrow of the widowed mother, whose husband had once welcomed to his humble home a strange and penniless boy. "That boy now stands before you pleading for the life of his benefactor's son."
When the jury brought in the verdict, "not guilty," a shout of joy went up from the crowded court room. The aged mother pressed forward through the throng and, with tears streaming from her eyes, attempted to express to Lincoln her gratitude for his noble effort.
Some months afterward Lincoln called to see her at her home. She urged him to take pay for his services. "Why, Aunt Hannah," he exclaimed, "I shan't take a cent of yours; never! Anything I can do for you, I will do willingly, and without any charge."
True gratitude never forgets. No one can possess too much gratitude any more than he can have too much honesty or truthfulness. It was a "pearl of great price" in Lincoln's heart. He was truer and nobler for it; and it did much to endear him to the American people, by whom he is still remembered as one of the most large-hearted and liberal-minded men our country has produced.
[Footnote: See also biographies of Lincoln, by Holland (1865); Arnold (1868); Lamon (1872); Nicolay and Hay (1890); Schurz (1892); and Herndon (1892, revised edition).]
Cheerfulness is the best promoter of health.—Addison
Give us, oh give us, the man who sings at his work.—Carlyle
Age without cheerfulness is like a Lapland winter without the sun. —Colton
An ounce of cheerfulness is worth a pound of sadness.—Fuller
The habit of looking at the bright side of things is better than an income of a thousand a year.—Hume.
We all love the company of cheerful people, but we do not think, as much as we ought to, of the nature of cheerfulness itself. Because we find that some people are naturally cheerful, we are apt to forget that cheerfulness is a habit which can be cultivated by all. Whether we do or do not possess a cheerful disposition, depends very largely upon our own efforts; for if we will endeavor, while still in our early years, to form the habit of looking on the bright side of things, and then persist in this course as we grow older, we shall certainly attain to that habitual cheerfulness which makes the lives of those we admire so sunny and so pleasing.
Even the smallest matters may aid us in forming this habit. Perhaps you have heard of the little girl who noticed, while eating her dinner, that the golden rays of the sun fell upon her spoon. She put the spoon to her mouth, and then exclaimed, "O mother! I have swallowed a whole spoonful of sunshine." Some children even take a cheerful view of their punishments, as seen in the following incident. "Little Charley had been very naughty, and was imprisoned for an hour in the kitchen wood-box. He speedily began amusing himself with chips and splinters, and was playing quite busily and happily, when a neighbor entered the house by way of the kitchen. 'Charley,' he cried, 'what are you doing there?' 'Nothing,' said Charley, 'nothing; but mamma's just been having one of her bad spells.'"
Cheerfulness consists in that happy frame of mind which is best described as the shutting out of all that pertains to the morbid, the gloomy, the fretful, and the discontented. The perfection of cheerfulness is displayed in general good temper united to much kindliness of heart. It arises partly from personal goodness, and partly from belief in the goodness of others. Its face is ever directed toward happiness. It sees "the glory in the grass, the sunshine on the flower." It encourages happy thoughts, and lives in an atmosphere of peace. It costs nothing, and yet is invaluable; for it blesses its possessor, and affords a large measure of enjoyment to others.
Cheerfulness bears the same friendly regard to the mind as to the body. It banishes all anxious care and discontent, soothes and composes the passions, and keeps the soul in a perpetual calm. Try for a single day to keep yourself in an easy and cheerful frame of mind; and then compare the day with one which has been marred by discontent, and you will find your heart open to every good motive, and your life so greatly strengthened, that you will wonder at your own improvement, and will feel that you are more than repaid for the effort.
Goethe once said, "Give me the man who bears a heavy load lightly, and looks on a grave matter with a blithe and cheerful eye." And Carlyle has pointed out that "One is scarcely sensible of fatigue whilst he marches to music. The very stars are said to make harmony as they revolve in their spheres. Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness; altogether past calculation its power of endurance. Efforts, to be permanently useful, must be uniformly joyous—a spirit all sunshine, graceful from very gladness, beautiful because bright."
This spirit of cheerfulness should be encouraged in our youth if we would wish to have the benefit of it in our old age. Persons who are always innocently cheerful and good-humored are very useful in the world; they maintain peace and happiness, and spread a thankful temper among all who live around them.
"A little word in kindness spoken A motion or a tear, Has often healed a heart that's broken, And made a friend sincere."
Cheerfulness does not depend upon the measure of our possessions. There is a Persian story to the effect that the great king, being out of spirits, consulted his astrologers, and was told that happiness could be found by wearing the shirt of a perfectly happy man. The court, and the homes of all the prosperous classes were searched in vain; no such man could be found. At last a common laborer was found to fulfill the conditions; he was absolutely happy; but, alas! the remedy was as far off as ever, for the man had no shirt.
The same truth may be illustrated by a reference to the life and character of the Roman emperor, Nero. Few persons ever had greater means and opportunities for self-gratification. From the senator to the slave, everybody in the empire crouched in servile subjection before his throne. Enormous revenues from the provinces were poured into his coffers, and no one dared criticise his manner of spending them. He was absolute monarch, holding the destinies of millions at his will. He came to the throne at seventeen; and during the fifteen years of his reign he exhausted every known means of passionate indulgence. He left nothing untried or untouched that could stimulate the palate, or arouse his passions, or administer in any way to his pleasure. After the great fire in Rome, he built his golden palace, and said, "Now at last I am lodged like a man"; but alas! his search for happiness was in vain. During his later years he never knew a really cheerful day; and, at last, he was forced to flee before his outraged people, and took refuge in a miserable hut, trembling like a base coward, where, at his own request, a slave did him the favor to end his miserable life.
In one of his famous essays, Addison says, "I have always preferred cheerfulness to mirth. The latter I consider as an act, the former as a habit of the mind. Mirth is like a flash of lightning that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity."
Cheerfulness and good spirits depend in a great degree upon bodily causes; but much may be done for the promotion of this frame of mind. "Persons subject to low spirits should make the room in which they live as cheerful as possible; hanging up pictures or prints, and filling the odd nooks and corners with beautiful ornaments. A bay window looking upon pleasant objects, and, above all, a large fire whenever the weather will permit, are favorable to good spirits, and the tables near should be strewed with books and pamphlets." "To this," says Sydney Smith, "must be added as much eating and drinking as is consistent with health; and some manual employment for men—as gardening, a carpenter's shop, or a turning-lathe. Women have always manual employment enough, and it is a great source of cheerfulness." For children, fresh air, occupation, and outdoor sports are great helps in overcoming depression and gloom.
There are a few noble natures whose very presence carries sunshine with them wherever they go; a sunshine which means pity for the poor, sympathy for the suffering, help for the unfortunate, and kindness toward all. It is the sunshine, and not the cloud, that colors the flower. There is more virtue in one sunbeam than in a whole hemisphere of cloud and gloom.
A man of this stamp is found in Sydney Smith, an English clergyman and writer of great distinction, who was born in 1771, and died in 1845. His was a sunny temperament. Noted for his wit, he was equally famous for his kindness. He hated injustice; he praised virtue; he pierced humbugs; he laughed away trouble; he preached and lived the gospel of Christian cheerfulness.
Smith helped to found the Edinburgh Review, and he advocated putting on the title-page this truthful, too truthful, sentence: "We cultivate literature on a little oatmeal." Poor but happy, this jest is characteristic of the man. His name became known: his society was sought. Macaulay and he were called "the great talkers." He moved to London, and gave lectures on moral philosophy that drew crowds, so that the carriages of fashion blocked the streets. He was the charm of every circle. His pen was always on the side of progress and good fellowship.
At every turn in life he made light of vexations, and never allowed himself or those with him to indulge in morbid ideas, imaginative forebodings, or resentment. This is what he wrote to his daughter: "I am not situated as I should choose; but I am resolved to like it, and to reconcile myself to it; which is more manly than to feign myself above it and send up complaints of being thrown away." One of his favorite expressions was, "Let us glorify the room"; which meant, throw up the shades and let in the sunshine.
The following anecdote will help to show his bright and sparkling disposition: At dinner with a large party of famous men and women, a French scientist annoyed all the rest by loudly arguing for atheism, and proclaimed his belief that there is no God. "Very good soup this," struck in Sydney Smith. "Yes, monsieur, it is excellent," replied the atheist. "Pray, sir," continued Smith, "do you believe in a cook?" The ounce of wit was worth a pound of argument.
He is one of the very few men whose names have been handed down to us by reason of the possession of this gift, and his career should be more fully studied.
[Footnote: See "Wit and Wisdom of Sydney Smith," by Duyckinck (1856); "Memoirs of Sydney Smith" by his daughter, Lady Holland (1855); "Life and Times of Sydney Smith," by Stuart J. Reid (London, 1844).]
THE LOVE OF THE BEAUTIFUL.
The beautiful can never die.—Kingsley
A thing of beauty is a joy forever.—Keats
The love of beauty is an essential part of all healthy human nature. —Ruskin
The sense of beauty is its own excuse for being.—Dr. Hedge
If eyes were made for seeing, Then beauty is its own excuse for being.—Emerson
One of the principal objects of the large amount of "nature study" that, within recent years, has been pursued in our public schools, is to develop in the pupils the love of the beautiful. The beautiful in nature and art is that which gives pleasure to the senses. The question might be asked, "Why do some forms and colors please, and others displease?" Yankee fashion, it might be answered by the question, "Why do we like sugar and dislike wormwood?" It is also a fact that cultivated minds derive more pleasure from nature and art than uncultivated minds.
This fact is aptly illustrated by the following remark of a little girl in one of the lower grades of our public schools. Shortly after she had taken up the study of plants and minerals she came to her teacher and said, "Oh! we have a lovely time now when we go up to the reservoir to play. Before we studied about plants and stones, we used to go up there and sit down and look around; but now we find so many beautiful things to look at. We know the plants and stones; and what pleasure it does give us to find a new specimen!" This child's love of the beautiful was being intelligently developed.
Natural beauty is an all-pervading presence. It unfolds into the numberless flowers of spring. It waves in the branches of the trees and the green blades of grass. It haunts the depths of the earth and the sea, and gleams from the hues of the shell and the precious stone. And not only these minute objects, but the ocean, the mountains, the clouds, the heavens, the stars, the rising and setting sun—all overflow with beauty. The universe is its temple; and those men who are alive to it cannot lift their eyes without feeling themselves encompassed with it on every side. This beauty is so precious, the enjoyments it gives are so refined and pure, so congenial to our tenderest and noblest feelings, and so akin to worship, that it is painful to think of the multitude of persons living in the midst of it and yet remaining almost as blind to it as if they were tenants of a dungeon.
All persons should seek to become sufficiently acquainted with the beautiful in nature to secure to themselves the rich fund of happiness which it is so well able to give. There is not a worm we tread upon, nor a rare leaf that dances merrily as it falls before the autumn winds, but has superior claims upon our study and admiration. The child who plucks a rose to pieces, or crushes the fragile form of a fluttering insect, destroys a work which the highest art could not create, nor man's best skilled hand construct.
One of the first forms in which man's idea of the beautiful shaped itself was in architecture. Extremely crude at first, this love for beautiful buildings has been highly developed among civilized nations. Ruskin says, "All good architecture is the expression of national life and character, and is produced by a permanent and eager desire or taste for beauty."
A taste for pictures, merely, is not in itself a moral quality; but the taste for good pictures is. A beautiful painting by one of the great artists, a Grecian statue, or a rare coin, or magnificent building, is a good and perfect thing; for it gives constant delight to the beholder.
The absence of the love of nature is not an assured ground of condemnation. Its presence is an invariable sign of goodness of heart, though by no means an evidence of moral practice. In proportion to the degree in which it is felt, will probably be the degree in which nobleness and beauty of character will be attained.
One of our great artists has said, that good taste is essentially a moral quality. To his mind, the first, last, and closest trial question to any living creature is, What do you like? Tell me what you like, and I will tell you what you are.
Let us examine this argument. Suppose you go out into the street and ask the first person you meet what he likes? You happen to accost a man in rags with an unsteady step, who, straightening himself up in a half uncertain way, answers, "A pipe and a quart of beer." You can take a pretty good measure of his character from that answer, can you not? But here comes a little girl, with golden hair and soft, blue eyes. "What do you like, my little girl?" "My canary, and to run among the flowers," is her answer. And you, little boy, with dirty hands and low forehead, "What do you like?" "A chance to hit the sparrows with a stone." When we have secured so much knowledge of their tastes, we really know the character of these persons so well that we do not need to ask any further questions about them.
The man who likes what you like must belong to the same class with you. You may give him a different form of work to do, but as long as he likes the things that you like, and dislikes that which you dislike, he will not be content while employed in an inferior position.
Hearing a young lady highly praised for her beauty, Gotthold asked, "What kind of beauty do you mean? Merely that of the body, or that also of the mind? I see well that you have been looking no further than the sign which Nature displays outside the house, but have never asked for the host who dwells within. Beauty is an excellent gift of God, but many a pretty girl is like the flower called 'the imperial crown,' which is admired for its showy appearance, and despised for its unpleasant odor. Were her mind as free from pride, selfishness, luxury, and levity, as her countenance is from spots and wrinkles, and could she govern her inward inclinations as she does her external carriage, she would have none to match her."
The power to appreciate beauty does not merely increase our sources of happiness,—it enlarges our moral nature too. Beauty calms our restlessness and dispels our cares. Go into the fields or the woods, spend a summer day by the sea or the mountains, and all your little perplexities and anxieties vanish. Listen to sweet music, and your foolish fears and petty jealousies pass away. The beauty of the world helps us to seek and find the beauty of goodness.
The love of the beautiful is an unfailing source of happiness. In his brief life, Regnault, the great painter, had more genuine enjoyment than a score of men of duller perceptions. He had cultivated his sense of color and proportion until nothing beautiful escaped his eye. If we are to enjoy the beauty about us, there is need of similar preparation. What we get out of communion with the beauty of nature or art, depends largely on what we bring to that communion. We must make ourselves sensitive to beauty, or else the charms of form and color and graceful motion and sweet music will be unheeded or unappreciated. It is also true, as Lowell said:
"Thou seest no beauty save thou make it first; Man, woman, nature, each is but a glass In which man sees the image of himself."
Alfred Tennyson, England's greatest modern poet, was a devoted lover of the beautiful from the very beginning of his career. The earliest verses he composed, which were written upon his slate when but a child of seven or eight years of age, had for their subject, "The Flowers in the Garden." As a dreamy boy, he loved to throw himself upon the grass and listen to the bird voices in the adjoining thicket, or to the lowing of the cattle as they stood knee-deep in the glittering waters of the river shallows which lay about his home.
How close an observer he became, even as a lad, is clearly shown in these lines, written as he lay under a tree, listening to the music of the birds:
"The creeping mosses and clambering weeds, And the willow branches hoar and dank, And the wavy swell of the soughing reeds, And the wave-worn horns of the echoing bank, And the silvery marish flowers that throng The desolate creeks and pools among, Were flooded over with eddying song."
He became so thoroughly acquainted with the various orders of vegetation with which his native land is clothed, and which mark the progress of the growth and development of plant and flower, that there is scarcely a false note in his music from first to last. His pictures of animal life are drawn in vivid master strokes, and are as notable for their correctness as for their grace. While we cannot speak of him as an astronomer, yet no one can read his verses without admitting that he was a close observer of the starry heavens. We could not rightly give him an equal place with Shelley as a painter of cloud-scenery, yet we know how he loved to lie on his back on the Down of Farringford and watch for hours the swiftly-moving and rapidly-changing panorama of the midday heavens. It was his chiefest joy to dream away his peaceful days among the trees and brooks and flowers. He sometimes spent weeks at a time in the open air wandering for miles in meditative silence along the banks of some sparkling stream, or over the sand and shingle that form the dividing line between the land and sea.
His pictures are photographic in their fidelity, and yet, in them all, the outbursting life and movement of nature is carefully preserved. They cover the widest possible field; dealing with the cloud and sunshine, the storm wind and the zephyr, the roaring of the ocean surge and the murmuring of the running brook, the crashing of the thunder peal and the whisper of the pine-trees. The fields and the hedgerows, the flowers and the grasses, the darkness and the dawn; all are exhibited under every possible shade of variation. His studies of the beautiful are as broad and true to life as any that have ever been written. So sensitive was his soul to these outward impressions of beauty that even those acquired in childhood never entirely passed out of his mind.
[Footnote: On Tennyson, see Dixon's "Tennyson Primer" (New York, 1896); Van Dyke's "Poetry of Tennyson" (New York, 1894); Tainsh's "A Study of Tennyson" (New York, 1893), and Tennyson's Poems.]
THE LOYE OF KNOWLEDGE.
Knowledge is the eye of the soul.—T. Watson
Common sense is knowledge of common things.—M. C. Peters
It is noble to seek truth, and it is beautiful to find it. —Sydney Smith
It has cost many a man life or fortune for not knowing what he thought he was sure of.—J. Staples White
The desire of knowledge, like the thirst of riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it.—Sterne
It has been well said that "Nothing is so costly as ignorance. You sow the wrong seed, you plant the wrong field, you build with the wrong timber, you buy the wrong ticket, you take the wrong train, you settle in the wrong locality, or you take the wrong medicine—and no money can make good your mistake."
The knowledge attained by any man appears to be a poor thing to boast of, since there is no condition or situation in which he may be placed without feeling or perceiving that there is something or other which he knows little or nothing about. A man can scarcely open his eyes or turn his head without being able to convince himself of this truth. And yet, without a fair working knowledge of the ordinary affairs of life, every man is, in some respects, as helpless as a child. Indeed there is no kind of knowledge which, in the hands of the diligent and skillful, may not be turned to good account. Honey exudes from all flowers, the bitter not excepted, but the bee knows how to extract it, and, by this knowledge, succeeds in providing for all its needs.
Learning is like a river. At its first rising the river is small and easily viewed, but as it flows onward it increases in breadth and depth, being fed by a thousand smaller streams flowing into it on either side, until at length it pours its mighty torrent into the ocean. So learning, which seems so small to us at the beginning, is ever increasing in its range and scope, until even the greatest minds are unable to comprehend it as a whole.
Sir Isaac Newton felt this when, after his sublime discoveries in science had been accomplished, he said, "I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem only like a boy playing upon the seashore, and diverting myself by now and then finding a choice pebble, or a prettier shell than ordinary; while the great ocean of truth lies all undiscovered before me."
Strabo was entitled to be called a profound geographer eighteen hundred years ago, but a geographer who had never heard of America would now be laughed at by boys and girls of ten years of age. What would now be thought of the greatest chemist or geologist of 1776? The truth is that, in every science, mankind is constantly advancing. Every generation has its front and its rear rank; but the rear rank of the later generation stands upon the ground which was occupied by the front rank of its predecessor.
It is important that our knowledge should be as full and complete as we can make it. Partial knowledge nearly always leads us into error. A traveler, as he passed through a large and thick wood, saw a part of a huge oak which appeared misshapen, and almost seemed to spoil the scenery. "If," said he, "I was the owner of this forest, I would cut down that tree." But when he had ascended the hill, and taken a full view of the forest, this same tree appeared the most beautiful part of the landscape. "How erroneously," said he, "I have judged while I saw only a part!" The full view, the harmony and proportion of things, are all necessary to clear up our judgment.
Walter A. Wood, whose keen business ability made him a wealthy man, and sent him to congress as a representative from the great state of New York, is reported to have said, "I would give fifty thousand dollars for a college education." When he came to measure his ability with that of men who had had greater opportunities in an educational line, he realized his loss. Chauncey M. Depew is also reported as having said, "I never saw a self-made man in my life who did not firmly believe that he had been handicapped, no matter how great his success, by deficiency in education, and who was not determined to give his children the advantages of which he felt, not only in business, but in intercourse with his fellow-men, so great a need."
There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom and understanding; but without the first the rest cannot be gained, any more than you can have a harvest of wheat without seed and skill of cultivation. Understanding is the right use of facts; facts make knowledge; knowledge is the root of wisdom. Many men know a great deal, but are not wise or capable; many others know less, but are able to use what they have learned. Wisdom is the ripe fruit of knowledge; knowledge is the beginning of character.
The love of knowledge has been characteristic of most great men. They not only loved knowledge but they were willing to work hard to attain it. As examples of this: Gibbon was in his study every morning, winter and summer, at six o'clock. Milton is said to have stuck to the study of his books with the regularity of a paid bookkeeper. Raphael, the great artist, lived only to the age of thirty-seven, yet so diligent was his pursuit of knowledge, that he carried his art to such a degree of perfection that it became the model for his successors. When a man like one of these wins success, people say "he is a genius." But the real reason for success, was, as you may see, that the love of knowledge led to the effort to obtain it.
Useful knowledge is the knowledge of what is of benefit to ourselves and to others; and that is the most important which is the most useful. It is the belief of those who have spent their lives in the search for it, that knowledge is better than riches, and that its possession brings more comfort to the owner. To be acquainted with the great deeds enacted in past ages; to find out how some nations have grown powerful while others have fallen; or to learn something about the great mysteries of nature, brings with it to the diligent searcher many hours of pleasure. Also the experience of man teaches that the exercise of the mind brings great satisfaction.
Even in seemingly little things the same holds true. There is a fountain in London that is opened by a concealed spring. One day the Bishop of London wanted to drink, but no one could tell him how to open it. At last a little dirty bootblack stepped up and touched the spring and the water gushed out. He knew more than the bishop about that one thing, and so was able to render the great man a real service.
The power of intellectual knowledge, without the power of moral principle, can only tend to evil. It has been said that education would empty our jails; but the greatest criminals, whether of scientific poisoning, or of fraud and forgery, are well educated. It has been asserted lately that "there is a race between scientific detection and prevention, on the one hand, and scientific roguery on the other."
Character is the criterion of knowledge. Not what a man has, but what he is, is the question, after all. The quality of soul is more than the quantity of information. Personal, spiritual substance is the final result. Have that, and your intellectual furnishings and attainments will turn naturally to the loftiest uses. Add obedience to knowledge, and your education will be worth all that it has cost.
ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT.
We may further illustrate this topic by a brief glance at the life of Alexander Von Humboldt. His brother, Wilhelm, acquired a distinguished name; but the greater renown fell to the younger, who was born at Berlin, Germany, September 14, 1769,—his full name being Friedrich Heinrich Alexander Von Humboldt. In circumstances of life, his lot was easy; his father had the means to educate him well. No very striking outward event occurred in his youth. Tutors prepared him for college; his own aim was not at once seized. "Until I reached the age of sixteen," he says, "I showed little inclination for scientific pursuits. I was of a restless disposition, and wished to be a soldier."
But another current was flowing in his mind. "From my earliest youth I had an intense desire to travel in those distant lands which have been but rarely visited by Europeans." And again he says: "The study of maps and the perusal of books of travel exercised a secret fascination over me." These early tastes blended at last with a serious purpose, and became "the incentive to scientific labor, or to undertakings of vast import."
To show that Humboldt was not a mere fact-gatherer, we select one incident out of many in his early life. When about twenty-one years of age, he made an extended journey with George Forster over the continent. Forster wrote the following after they had visited the cathedral at Cologne. After describing the glories of the structure he adds: "My attention was arrested by a yet more engrossing object: before me stood a man of lively imagination and refined taste, riveted with admiration to the spot. Oh, it was glorious to see, in his rapt contemplation, the grandeur of the temple repeated as it were by reflection!" In this scene we behold the actual process of knowledge being changed into true learning and ideas; it was always so with Humboldt in his long and varied career.
Humboldt studied hard, held official positions, and matured. His mother died in 1796. To her this son owed much, for the father had died when Alexander was only ten years old, and she watched his education with fidelity. She saw the bent of the "little apothecary,"—as Alexander was called because of his passion for collecting and labeling shells, plants, and insects,—and guided it. Her death set Humboldt free to go afar in travels. In June, 1799, he started on a five years' absence, in which time he climbed Teneriffe and the Cordilleras, explored the Orinoco, visited the United States, and gathered a mass of knowledge which afterward won him lasting fame. Often he was in peril, often baffled, often put to dreary discomforts by savage tribes; but through all ran his unconquerable purpose.
In his scientific work he often took great risks in order to ascertain facts, as all earnest investigators do. In testing a new lamp for miners, he crept into a "crosscut" of the mine, lamp in hand, and continued there so long and persistently that two men rushed in and drew him out by the feet, the gases having overcome him.
We have not space to give details of his splendid career. Humboldt shone with greater light from year to year. Honors were lavished upon him. His works aided science, his life was a constant inspiration. He lived to be ninety years old, dying in 1859,—possessing to the last, a strong memory, and a tireless love of research.
[Footnote: On Humboldt, consult Haym's "Biography of Humboldt" (London, 1856); Bruhn's "Biography of Humboldt" (Leipsic, 1872, translated by the Misses Lassell); Klenke's "Alexander Von Humboldt" (1859); "Humboldt's Correspondence with Goethe" (London, 1876).]
THE FIRST TRANSITION PERIOD.
The child is father of the man.—Wordsworth
Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.—Chesterfield
No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself.—Emerson
A man cannot live a broad life if he runs only in one groove. —J. Staples White
'Tis education forms the common mind, Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined.—Pope