Изображения страниц

and stood by the supremacy of the national government and the cause of the Union with patriotic fervor. This was the only source of difference between

the two.

This gives a tangible illustration, certainly, of what honest convictions can do, when they are backed up by warm blood and a lively, high-strung energy of will. It would not be well, as a rule, One night, in April, 1861, they were to do as these spirited college boys did, at prayer meeting, and after they re- on that memorable April night, when turned they heard that Fort Sumter the pugilistic demon from Charleston had been fired upon. This fanned the harbor got into their muscles. It is a fire of antagonism between them into a pity that they could not discuss the vital flame, and the flame was made to do its issue of the day in a less barbarous and sorry work. They went to their room cruel manner. Bit greater is the pity and discussed the event, and soon there that the evil genius of war was in the was too much hot blood to keep the air, and that the brave young gladiators feelings under the control of calm sense. had caught the inspiration and were From word the fraternal chums came simply playing a sad but significant preto blows. They fought long and hard; lude to the grand march which was soon they fought until the furniture in the to follow. It is in place now to divest room was wrecked and turned into a this personal rencounter of its indecorheap of rubbish; they never stopped ous accompaniment of cuffs and blowe, lashing each other with their tongues and to let it pass as a sign of youthful and pounding each other with their energy which, if properly directed, leads fists, until they were completely ex- to a nobility of manhood in the presence hausted and covered with wounds and of which all right thinking people inbruises. Then they parted, and each stinctively bow. And, by the way, followed the bent of his own convictions. taking the world as it is, a high temper The one hastened back to his Southern with a corresponding aptitude to use home, joined the Confederate army, and one's clinched fists as a weapon of war fought to the bitter end; the other as in the defence of honest personal convicpromptly enlisted as a soldier of the tions, may be the propelling force of the Union, and fought bravely through the noblest kind of character. Such energy war. After the great conflict was over will readily accomplish what passive the Pennsylvanian returned to college, natures fail to reach. That Pennsylvania completed his academic course, and College boy was the son of poor parents. then studied theology. He has since He got his education by his own perbecome quite eminent in his profession. sonal energy, and now he is a successful The Tennesseean has risen to political minister of the Gospel of peace. He prominence, and is recognized as a loves to talk of his early trials and boyparty leader in the current political struggles of his native State.

ish mistakes; but whenever he refers to the little war which turned up between himself and his Southern chum, he always smiles and says "The war is over now."

Some years after the war the two men met, and that in a very unexpected manner. The one in the ministry delivered a lecture on a subject connected It is not fortune that makes a man. with the history of the war. The other Easy circumstances may help to make happened to be in the place at the the road to eminence and usefulnes time, saw the announcement of the lec- smooth or level, and the favored children ture and went to hear it. The story of of fortune may secure the advantages of the fight in the room at college was re- a liberal culture with less painful effort lated by the speaker. After the address than those who have to work their way was ended the soldier who had worn the up through the narrow channels of gray, stepped on the platform and ex- pinching deficiencies. Still it remains tended his hand to the lecturer, who im-true that fortune does not make a man, mediately recognized his former chum if he by personal effort does not make and warmly grasped the proffered hand. himself. Under the influence of wealth Thus the old brotherly relations which many grow effeminate, but hardships had been so rudely and abruptly broken, are educators of manly qualities prowere renewed after an interval of nearly vided the will is sufficiently firm to twenty years.

grapple with them and turn them to good account. The oak is shaken by the winds and sometimes rudely bent by the storm, but for all that its roots strike deeper into the soil, its crown is lifted higher towards the sky, and its boughs spread like a broad canopy in majestic circumference and cone. The poor that rise by the force of their will and the use of their own powers, will be practically in a condition to use their gain as those who have never been thrown on their own resources in reaching their ends will not be likely to do. Therefo e, if the young cannot avoid getting out of the line of strict propriety under an occasional high pressure of vital controversy, it is better beyond peradventure that they give each other a sound drubbing for the sake of opinion, than that they grow up destitute of a keen sense of personal responsibility only fit to act the craven in the face of plain duty. It is manhood that is needed, and if this should unfortunately grow pugnacious, then let it be curbed and generously trained, but let not the boy be prevented from being father to the man by a most vigorous use of the keenest energies of his soul.

A traveler may stop short in his course to contemplate the ruin caused by a great volcanic eruption. He may be caught by a terrific thunder gust amid the eternal snows of Alpine glaciers. He may stand aghast in view of the wrecks of a mad hurricane, or of an appalling earthquake. But for all this he will not embrace the notion that these are the ordinary manifestations of the energies of nature. He knows that they come only now and then, as violent but sometimes necessary exceptions. As he passes to and fro in the earth, he sees that the ordinary flow of the forces of nature is as placid and as full of good cheer, as the occasional disturbances are full of terror. Aggressive energy often reaches its goal with such audacious speed, brilliancy, and prestige, that many are dazzled and led to think that this is the only kind of force of character worthy of imitation. Yet even the bravest military chieftain is greater in the arts of a masterly strategy, than in direct bloody assault, and should he shudder in view of the horrid scenes scattered over the battle

ground of his victorious forces, he would prove himself a better model for the inspiration of genuine bravery than he could while being under the inciting pressure of the clash of arms. There are forces of human character which lead to greatness and renown, without ever entering the pathways of violent or demonstrative aggression. Such are the qualities of those popular mortals who, very now and then, come to the front with a full cargo of ready wit and draw men after them by the pleasant charms of their genial humor.

Once upon a time there was a schoolmaster in one of the small principalities of Southern Germany, now belonging to the Russian empire, who kept a wooden horse in his school-room for the purpose of punishing unruly pupils. There was a boy in that school, a lad of tender years but of manly wit. He had a keen sense of self-helpfulness in cases of trying emergency, and never failed to make use of strategy to get out of trouble. He was as full of mischief as be was ready in schemes for escape from difficulty. One day the master caught him in a boyish trick, for which he made him mount the penal steed. The merry lad soon came to the conclusion that there was but very little fun in this sort of equestrian drill, and he made up his mind to get out of it at any venture. So he called his wits to his aid, and, on the plea of necessity, he politely asked permission to withdraw for a few minutes. Of course the request was granted, and the cunning rider dismounted and went out.

Soon he returned with a wad of hay under his arm, which he brought from the parochial barn-yard, and now came the tug of war in the trial of the youngster's wit. The master gruffly and with angry mien demanded why he was carrying that bundle of hay into the school. The lad politely responded thus-"Your worship will please to graciously bear in mind that I am compelled to make a long journey, and that on the back of a very lean horse, a mode of traveling to which I am not at all accustomed. And you are aware that persons of my tender age generally like comfort a great deal better than painful inconvenience. You see, Sir, that the back bone of this animal is rather unusually sharp and angular, and

as your worship has not provided a sad dle, the thought flashed into my mind that a wad of hay might be used as a sort of cushion instead of a saddle, and that afterwards the horse might eat the hay and get into better condition for future use." And suiting the action to the word, the daring adventurer clapped his bundle on the back of the penal steed and promptly mounted, thus giving a ludicrous demonstration of his practical horsemanship. This was a perilous piece of witticism for a Teutonic school-boy of such tender age in the Fatherland, especially under the rigid regime of a century or two ago, but the very audacity of the deed speedily brought the coveted release. The whole school bust ont into a roar of laughter, and the stern pedagogue, in spite of his lofty sense of his official dignity, could not refrain from joining in the chorus. He ordered the rider to dismount and take his seat among the pupils, and the lad obeyed of course with the proud consciousness of having gained a bloodless but grand victory.

Thus we have a dramatic illustration of the force of wit, a veritable comedy of keen flashy humor. It was indeed a piece of innocent trickery, performed in an amusing homespun boyish style, but it indicated the presence of unusual capacity in the actor. He evidently had in him the elements of a strong character. His wiry boy nature developed into the shrewd and powerful diplomatist. He stood in the presence of kings and princes, and received the homage of the best man of his day in consideration of his character and genius. He made a brilliant beginning in the parochial school of his native village, but afterwards on the broad field of European politics he showed himself a born humorist with tenfold greater splendor. In the history of his life there lies not one incident the contemplation of which gives any just cause for regret, and his case may be cited as a powerful inducement to give vigorous culture to whatever capacity for striking humor may be imbedded in the make-up of one's latent power.

"Variety is the spice of life." So the people say proverbially. It is, however, to be feared that many say so, and yet do not realize the full force of what they

utter. The proverb is as wide in its application as the universe, and in its plain practical bearings it reaches out into all the relations of the physical, the mental, and the moral world. There is one planet in our solar system which has two rings and seven moons, certainly a grand variety taken by itself. If Saturn has inhabitants they enjoy the privilege of gazing at illuminated arches spanning the sky like rainbows, while they at the same time bask in the mellow rays of several lunar satellites. Still, if they look out into the length and breadth of the celestial hemispheres, they will see that their own planetary world is but a speck in the broad bosom of the boundless all, notwithstanding the munificence and magnitude of its arrangement. The scenery of earth, when measured by the scenery of the heavens, may be small and even mean, but it is grand and noble still. There are individualisms in the planet and animal world which, taken as isolated productions, are things both of strength and of beauty; but when we meet them in combined force, they often rise to a sublimity of grandeur before which the mind bows with instinctive awe. Yet the glory of the human mind is of a higher order than all this, and it is also more grandly various in its world transcending powers. If fire, energy, and pungent wiry wit, have great influence in the social arena, there is still an army of cardinal graces which are equally destined to shine in the unlimited flare of human progress, though they shine with a splendor peculiar to themselves.

If we would take the spot where the historic tree grows under the shadow of which the immortal Penn made his famous treaty with the Indians, as the centre of a given radius, we would hardly reach the circumference in any direction without finding personages who lay no claim to the mental peculiarities had under review, and who still have great force of character. We may, for instance, select an individual noted particularly for retiring modesty. This personage will not likely ever go for an antagonist with clinched fists, or pelt him with the ugly missives of an angry tongue. And it is certainly not probable that he will ride into position and

But the spicy part of life is life. The power to grow, to become more perfect, is greater than the power merely to exist. Individual character is destined to develop beyond any known boundaries, and so to develop is to enjoy the variety of life in the true sense. And the race moves onward and upward, and reaps the benefit of this progress as it moves. In all this lies a glorious variety, and this is the spice of which life is made up.

power by the force of a charming witticism. Nevertheless he is in possession of powers that place him squarely on a level with others who have risen to eminence and fame. The natural turn of his mind is perhaps of that philosophic cast, which is somewhat heavy in its movements and comes to its goal by laborious but substantial progression. What in some is spontaneous may come out of him only by vigorous drilling. Walter Scott had in him the capacity of a first class novelist, but he only became Goethe, the great German poet and a noted belles lettres writer of immortal versatile scholarly champion of intellecfame by long continued heroic self-ual progress, frequently spent hours in culture. It should not be surprising if conversation with his personal friends. this experience of Sir Walter would be Among these he was an intellectual repeated in the prolific soil of our monarch, though many of the most new world. Perhaps we may not find so gifted minds of his classic age were masterly a model within our given gathered around him. At the e social radius. but then we may discover more gatherings earnest discussions were had than one character somewhat similar to his. And now let us suppose that our hero has not been as sorely tried as Lavengro, who with his manuscripts under his arm paid his respects to the publishers but was greeted with a signifi cant shake of the head, on the ground that his productions were out of date and would not sell. It will harmonize better with his modest temper to suppose that his literary aspirations, if he has any, have never led him into the notion to venture out before the public as a maker or translator of books. Yet we must suppose that he has made a point, and that a vital one, though he has not attempted to win popular applause by any marked public career. If he can but look back on any serious failures with an audible smile; if he can meet defeat with philosophic composure, and deal with it as a blessing in disguise; and if he is young and frisky in spiri as a jovial school-boy of tender years, though the hoary period of his earthly pilgrimage has already left its marks upon him, he is the model man we went in search for when we started out from the historic centre of the foundation of this great Commonwealth. And now that we have found him ar d have looked into his modest but manly face, we are about ready to say upon our sacred honor that this personage will never die of disappointed ambition, and that he will just as little fail to make his mark from want of manly energy.

on the topics of the day, especially on
such as particularly agitated the mind
of Europe at that time. Of course
there was often a radical difference of
opinion, some being timidly or obstinate-
ly conservative, while others went head-
long for change and revolution. But
the great master spirit of the circle
always held the reins, and played the
role of umpire between its conflicting
tendencies. One night, after a long and
somewhat fiery discussion of the conflict
of opinions and its probable results, he
addressed himself to a particular lady
friend with a characteristic gracefulness
of demeanor, and told her he was much
surprised to find that so gifted and in-
telligent a representative of the sex as
she was, could be so seriously moved by
these troubles. "We men," said he,
"are apt to lose ourselves in the regions
of abstract thought, and therefore to
get alarmed at, or out of patience with,
what we cannot measure by the rule and
square of our logic. But you women
are constantly engaged with what is
practical and tangible. You cook,
bake, and do a multitude of other
things of the kind in daily routine, and
sometimes you turn your houses literally
upside down for the purpose of cleans-
ing, renovating, and beautifying them.
And it we lords of the rougher gender
would interfere with these notions of
house-wifery, you would greet us wit
the sharp end of your tongue, or perhaps
with the specific ultra gravitation of

your broomstick. But when the temple of thought is being swept and dusted, you tremble, you protest." Here he paus d, but no reply was made. The majesty of his genius seemed to hold every one present in absolute submission. He smiled and in a vein of admirable good humor he delivered himself of one of those classic perorations, which he had always at command. He pointed to the sky and said; "That starry vault will not cave in, though a thousand forces run against its eternal arches And just so the war ideas will never ruin the temple of human progress." Again he paused but still there was a deathlike silence. Finally he proceeded, with a placid air, to wind up in these words: "There is unity in all this conflicting diversity, even in the midst of apparent utter confusion and ruin; and positively there will always be diversity in unity, as the voice of univer-al history plainly testifies. Be not alarmed, my friends, at the war of differences, since after the storm a pleasant and refreshing calm is sure to follow."

Then he rose and made his exit, gracefully bidding every one present good-night. Now his particular lady friend awoke as out of a revery and ejaculated: "Well, doubtless there is more truth than poetry in the reminder that we women are so largely occupied with our domestic pursuits, that we have but little capacity for these higher flights for which our lords of the rougher gender are so noted. But if our princely champion, with prophetic eye, has inded, caught he dawn of a bett r day, it is to be hoped hat at its coming our masculine companions will be so gentle and humane, that we will need the use neither of our tongues nor of our broomsticks to keep them in their places."

At this juncture all retired, pleased that the evening was so pleasantly and so profitably spent.

TEMPERANCE CREDIT.-Young man if you contemplate a business career, you cannot look at your habits too carefully. Your aim in life is to be successful; with bad habits it is impossible to be successful or respected-Matters that seem of small importance to you may become in future the turning point

in your career, either up or down, as they have many a man before you. In illustration of this we take the following anecdote from one of the New York dailies:

Horace B. Claflin, one of the most prominent and wealthy dry goods merchants of New York, was alone in his office one afternoon when a pale, careworn young man timidly knocked and entered. "Mr. Claflin," said he, “I have been unable to meet certain payments because parties failed to do by me as they agreed to do, and I would like to borrow $10,000. I come to you because you have been a friend to my father, to my mother, and might be a friend to me. "Come in," said Claflin,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

come in and take a glass of wine." No, I don't drink. " "Have a cigar, then?" "No, I never smoke.

"Well," said the merchant, "I would like to accommodate you but I don't think I can.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »