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MEANS AND ENDS OF EDUCATION.
TRUTH AND LOVE.
None of us yet know, for none of us have yet been taught in early youth, what fairy palaces we may build of beautiful thought – proof against all adversity; - bright fancies, satisfied memories, noble histories, faithful sayings, treasure-houses of precious and restful thoughts; which care cannot disturb, nor pain make gloomy, nor poverty take away from us — - houses built without hands for our souls to live in. — RUSKIN.
Stirred up with high hopes of living to be brave men and worthy patriots, dear to God and famous to all ages.
A GREAT man's house is filled chiefly with
; and great libraries contain, for the most part, books as dry and lifeless as the dust that gathers on them: but from amidst these dead leaves an immortal mind here and there looks forth with light and love.
From the point of view of the bank president, Emerson tells us, books are merely so much
rubbish. But in his eyes the flowers also, the flowing water, the fresh air, the floating clouds, children's voices, the thrill of love, the fancy's play, the mountains, and the stars are worthless.
Not one in a hundred who buy Shakspere, or Milton, or a work of any other great mind, feels a genuine longing to get at the secret of its power and truth; but to those alone who feel this longing is the secret revealed. We must love the man of genius, if we would have him speak to us. We learn to know ourselves, not by studying the behavior of matter, but through experience of life and intimate acquaintance with literature. Our spiritual as well as our physical being springs from that of our ancestors. Freedom, however, gives the soul the power not only to develop what it inherits, but to grow into conscious communion with the thought and love, the hope and faith of the noble dead, and, in thus enlarging itself, to become the inspiration and source of richer and wider life for those who follow. As parents are consoled by the thought of surviving in their descendants, great minds are upheld and strengthened in their ceaseless labors by the hope of entering as an added impulse to better things, from generation to generation, into the lives of thousands. The greatest misfortune which can befall genius is to be sold to the advocacy of what is not truth and love and goodness and beauty. The proper translation of timeo hominem unius libri is not, “I fear a man of one book,” but “I dread a man of one book:” for he is sure to be narrow, one-sided, and unreasonable. The right phrase enters at once into our spiritual world, and its power becomes as real as that of material objects. The truth to which it gives body is borne in upon us as a star or a mountain is borne in upon us.
Kings and rich men live in history when genius happens to throw the light of abiding worlds upon their ephemeral estate. Carthage is the typical city of merchants and traders. Why is it remembered ? Because Hannibal was a warrior and Virgil a poet.
The strong man is he who knows how and is able to become and be himself; the magnanimous man is he who, being strong, knows how and is able to issue forth from himself, as from a fortress, to guide, protect, encourage, and save others. Life's current flows pure and unimpeded within him, and on its wave his thought and love are borne to bless his fellowmen. If he who gives a cup of water in the right spirit does God's work, so does he who sows or reaps, or builds or sweeps, or utters helpful truth or plays with children or cheers the lonely, or does any other fair or useful thing. Take not seriously one who treats with derision men or books that have been deemed worthy of attention by the best minds. He is false or foolish. As we cherish a human being for the courage and love he inspires, so books are dear to us for the noble thoughts and generous moods they call into being. To drink the spirit of a great author is worth more than a knowledge of his teaching.
He who desires to grow wise should bring his reason to bear habitually upon what he sees and hears not less than upon what he reads; for thus he soon comes to understand that whatever he thinks or feels, says or does, whatever happens within the sphere of his conscious life, may be made the means of self-improvement. “ He is not born for glory,” says Vauvenargues, “who knows not the worth of time.” The educational value of books lies in their power to set the intellectual atmosphere in vibration, thereby rousing the mind to selfactivity; and those which have not this power lack vitality.
If in a whole volume we find one passage in which truth is expressed in a noble and striking manner, we have not read in vain. To read with profit, we should read as a serious student reads, with the mind all alive and held to the subject; for reading is thinking, and it is valu