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Who am i?
The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri [Ramana Maharshi]
PRESIDENT, BOARD OF TRUSTEES
"Who am I?" is the title given to a set of questions and answers bearing on Self-enquiry. The questions were put to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi by one Sri M. Sivaprakasam Pillai about the year 1902. Sri Pillai, a graduate in Philosophy, was at the time employed in the Revenue Department of the South Arcot Collectorate. During his visit to Tiruvannamalai in 1902 on official work, he went to Virupaksha Cave on Arunachala Hill and met the Master there. He sought from him spiritual guidance, and solicited answers to questions relating to Self-enquiry. As Bhagavan was not talking then, not because of any vow he had taken, but because he did not have the inclination to talk, he answered the questions put to him by gestures, and when these were not understood, by writing. As recollected and recorded by Sri Sivaprakasam Pillai, there were fourteen questions with answers to them given by Bhagavan. This record was first published by Sri Pillai in 1923, along with a couple of poems composed by himself relating how Bhagavan's grace operated in his case by dispelling his doubts and by saving him from a crisis in life. 'Who am I?' has been published several times subsequently. We find thirty questions and answers in some editions and twenty-eight in others. There is also another published version in which the questions are not given, and the teachings are rearranged in the form of an essay. The extant English translation is of this essay. The present rendering is of the text in the form of twenty-eight questions and answers.
Along with Vicharasangraham (Self-Enquiry), Nan Yar (Who am I?) constitutes the first set of instructions in the Master's own words. These two are the only prosepieces among Bhagavan's Works. They clearly set forth the central teaching that the direct path to liberation is Self-enquiry. The particular mode in which the enquiry is to be made is lucidly set forth in Nan Yar. The mind consists of thoughts. The 'I' thought is the first to arise in the mind. When the enquiry ' Who am I?' is persistently pursued, all other thoughts get destroyed, and finally the 'I' thought itself vanishes leaving the supreme non-dual Self alone. The false identification of the Self with the phenomena of non-self such as the body and mind thus ends, and there is illumination, Sakshatkara. The process of enquiry of course, is not an easy one. As one enquires 'Who am I?', other thoughts will arise; but as these arise, one should not yield to them by following them , on the contrary, one should ask 'To whom do they arise ?' In order to do this, one has to be extremely vigilant. Through constant enquiry one should make the mind stay in its source, without allowing it to wander away and get lost in the mazes of thought created by itself. All other disciplines such as breath-control and meditation on the forms of God should be regarded as auxiliary practices. They are useful in so far as they help the mind to become quiescent and one-pointed.
University of Madras
As all living beings desire to be happy always, without misery, as in the case of everyone there is observed supreme love for one's self, and as happiness alone is the cause for love, in order to gain that happiness which is one's nature and which is experienced in the state of deep sleep where there is no mind, one should know one's self. For that, the path of knowledge, the inquiry of the form "Who am I?", is the principal means.
The gross body which is composed of the seven humours (dhatus), I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, viz. the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell, which apprehend their respective objects, viz. sound, touch, colour, taste, and odour, I am not; the five cognitive sense-organs, viz. the organs of speech, locomotion, grasping, excretion, and procreation, which have as their respective functions speaking, moving, grasping, excreting, and enjoying, I am not; the five vital airs, prana, etc., which perform respectively the five functions of in-breathing, etc., I am not; even the mind which thinks, I am not; the nescience too, which is endowed only with the residual impressions of objects, and in which there are no objects and no functioning's, I am not.
2. If I am none of these, then who am I?
After negating all of the above-mentioned as 'not this', 'not this', that Awareness which alone remains - that I am.
3. What is the nature of Awareness?
The nature of Awareness is existence-consciousness-bliss
4. When will the realization of the Self be gained?
When the world which is what-is-seen has been removed, there will be realization of the Self which is the seer.
5. Will there not be realization of the Self even while the world is there (taken as real)?
The seer and the object seen are like the rope and the snake. Just as the knowledge of the rope which is the substrate will not arise unless the false knowledge of the illusory serpent goes, so the realization of the Self which is the substrate will not be gained unless the belief that the world is real is removed.
When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition's and of all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear.
8. What is the nature of the mind?
What is called 'mind' is a wondrous power residing in the Self. It causes all thoughts to arise. Apart from thoughts, there is no such thing as mind. Therefore, thought is the nature of mind. Apart from thoughts, there is no independent entity called the world. In deep sleep there are no thoughts, and there is no world. In the states of waking and dream, there are thoughts, and there is a world also. Just as the spider emits the thread (of the web) out of itself and again withdraws it into itself, likewise the mind projects the world out of itself and again resolves it into itself. When the mind comes out of the Self, the world appears. Therefore, when the world appears (to be real), the Self does not appear; and when the Self appears (shines) the world does not appear. When one persistently inquires into the nature of the mind, the mind will end leaving the Self (as the residue). What is referred to as the Self is the Atman. The mind always exists only in dependence on something gross; it cannot stay alone. It is the mind that is called the subtle body or the soul (jiva).
9. What is the path of inquiry for understanding the nature of the mind?
That which rises as 'I' in this body is the mind. If one inquires as to where in the body the thought 'I' rises first, one would discover that it rises in the heart. That is the place of the mind's origin. Even if one thinks constantly 'I' 'I', one will be led to that place. Of all the thoughts that arise in the mind, the 'I' thought is the first. It is only after the rise of this that the other thoughts arise. It is after the appearance of the first personal pronoun that the second and third personal pronouns appear; without the first personal pronoun there will not be the second and third.
When other thoughts arise, one should not pursue them, but should inquire: 'To whom do they arise?' It does not matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises, one should inquire with diligence, "To whom has this thought arisen?". The answer that would emerge would be "To me". Thereupon if one inquires "Who am I?", the mind will go back to its source; and the thought that arose will become quiescent. With repeated practice in this manner, the mind will develop the skill to stay in its source. When the mind that is subtle goes out through the brain and the sense-organs, the gross names and forms appear; when it stays in the heart, the names and forms disappear. Not letting the mind go out, but retaining it in the Heart is what is called "inwardness" (antar-mukha). Letting the mind go out of the Heart is known as "externalisation" (bahir-mukha). Thus, when the mind stays in the Heart, the 'I' which is the source of all thoughts will go, and the Self which ever exists will shine. Whatever one does, one should do without the egoity "I". If one acts in that way, all will appear as of the nature of Siva (God).
Other than inquiry, there are no adequate means. If through other means it is sought to control the mind, the mind will appear to be controlled, but will again go forth. Through the control of breath also, the mind will become quiescent; but it will be quiescent only so long as the breath remains controlled, and when the breath resumes the mind also will again start moving and will wander as impelled by residual impressions. The source is the same for both mind and breath. Thought, indeed, is the nature of the mind. The thought "I" is the first thought of the mind; and that is egoity. It is from that whence egoity originates that breath also originates. Therefore, when the mind becomes quiescent, the breath is controlled, and when the breath is controlled the mind becomes quiescent. But in deep sleep, although the mind becomes quiescent, the breath does not stop. This is because of the will of God, so that the body may be preserved and other people may not be under the impression that it is dead. In the state of waking and in samadhi, when the mind becomes quiescent the breath is controlled. Breath is the gross form of mind. Till the time of death, the mind keeps breath in the body; and when the body dies the mind takes the breath along with it. Therefore, the exercise of breath-control is only an aid for rendering the mind quiescent (manonigraha); it will not destroy the mind (manonasa).
Like the practice of breath-control. meditation on the forms of God, repetition of mantras, restriction on food, etc., are but aids for rendering the mind quiescent.
Through meditation on the forms of God and through repetition of mantras, the mind becomes one-pointed. The mind will always be wandering. Just as when a chain is given to an elephant to hold in its trunk it will go along grasping the chain and nothing else, so also when the mind is occupied with a name or form it will grasp that alone. When the mind expands in the form of countless thoughts, each thought becomes weak; but as thoughts get resolved the mind becomes one-pointed and strong; for such a mind Self-inquiry will become easy. Of all the restrictive rules, that relating to the taking of sattvic food in moderate quantities is the best; by observing this rule, the sattvic quality of mind will increase, and that will be helpful to Self-inquiry.
13. The residual impressions (thoughts) of objects appear wending like the waves of an ocean. When will all of them get destroyed?
14. Is it possible for the residual impressions of objects that come from beginningless time, as it were, to be resolved, and for one to remain as the pure Self?
Without yielding to the doubt "Is it possible, or not?", one should persistently hold on to the meditation on the Self. Even if one be a great sinner, one should not worry and weep "O! I am a sinner, how can I be saved?"; one should completely renounce the thought "I am a sinner"; and concentrate keenly on meditation on the Self; then, one would surely succeed. There are not two minds - one good and the other evil; the mind is only one. It is the residual impressions that are of two kinds - auspicious and inauspicious. When the mind is under the influence of auspicious impressions it is called good; and when it is under the influence of inauspicious impressions it is regarded as evil.
As long as there are impressions of objects in the mind, so long the inquiry "Who am I?" is required. As thoughts arise they should be destroyed then and there in the very place of their origin, through inquiry. If one resorts to contemplation of the Self unintermittently, until the Self is gained, that alone would do. As long as there are enemies within the fortress, they will continue to sally forth; if they are destroyed as they emerge, the fortress will fall into our hands.
16. What is the nature of the Self?
What exists in truth is the Self alone. The world, the individual soul, and God are appearances in it. like silver in mother-of-pearl, these three appear at the same time, and disappear at the same time. The Self is that where there is absolutely no "I" thought. That is called "Silence". The Self itself is the world; the Self itself is "I"; the Self itself is God; all is Siva, the Self.
17. Is not everything the work of God?
Without desire, resolve, or effort, the sun rises; and in its mere presence, the sun-stone emits fire, the lotus blooms, water evaporates; people perform their various functions and then rest. Just as in the presence of the magnet the needle moves, it is by virtue of the mere presence of God that the souls governed by the three (cosmic) functions or the fivefold divine activity perform their actions and then rest, in accordance with their respective karmas. God has no resolve; no karma attaches itself to Him. That is like worldly actions not affecting the sun, or like the merits and demerits of the other four elements not affecting all pervading space.
18. Of the devotees, who is the greatest?
He who gives himself up to the Self that is God is the most excellent devotee. Giving one's self up to God means remaining constantly in the Self without giving room for the rise of any thoughts other than that of the Self. Whatever burdens are thrown on God, He bears them. Since the supreme power of God makes all things move, why should we, without submitting ourselves to it, constantly worry ourselves with thoughts as to what should be done and how, and what should not be done and how not? We know that the train carries all loads, so after getting on it why should we carry our small luggage on our head to our discomfort, instead of putting it down in the train and feeling at ease?
As thoughts arise, destroying them utterly without any residue in the very place of their origin is non-attachment. Just as the pearl-diver ties a stone to his waist, sinks to the bottom of the sea and there takes the pearls, so each one of us should be endowed with non-attachment, dive within oneself and obtain the Self-Pearl.
20. Is it not possible for God and the Guru to effect the release of a soul?
God and the Guru will only show the way to release; they will not by themselves take the soul to the state of release. In truth, God and the Guru are not different. Just as the prey which has fallen into the jaws of a tiger has no escape, so those who have come within the ambit of the Guru's gracious look will be saved by the Guru and will not get lost; yet, each one should by his own effort pursue the path shown by God or Guru and gain release. One can know oneself only with one's own eye of knowledge, and not with somebody else's. Does he who is Rama require the help of a mirror to know that he is Rama?
21. Is it necessary for one who longs for release to inquire into the nature of categories (tattvas)?
Just as one who wants to throw away garbage has no need to analyse it and see what it is, so one who wants to know the Self has no need to count the number of categories or inquire into their characteristics; what he has to do is to reject altogether the categories that hide the Self. The world should be considered like a dream.
All the texts say that in order to gain release one should render the mind quiescent; therefore their conclusive teaching is that the mind should be rendered quiescent; once this has been understood there is no need for endless reading. In order to quieten the mind one has only to inquire within oneself what one's Self is; how could this search be done in books? One should know one's Self with one's own eye of wisdom. The Self is within the five sheaths; but books are outside them. Since the Self has to be inquired into by discarding the five sheaths, it is futile to search for it in books. There will come a time when one will have to forget all that one has learned.
Happiness is the very nature of the Self; happiness and the Self are not different. There is no happiness in any object of the world. We imagine through our ignorance that we derive happiness from objects. When the mind goes out, it experiences misery. In truth, when its desires are fulfilled, it returns to its own place and enjoys the happiness that is the Self. Similarly, in the states of sleep, samadhi and fainting, and when the object desired is obtained or the object disliked is removed, the mind becomes inward-turned, and enjoys pure Self-Happiness. Thus the mind moves without rest alternately going out of the Self and returning to it. Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been going about in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back into the shade is a fool. A wise man stays permanently in the shade. Similarly, the mind of the one who knows the truth does not leave Brahman. The mind of the ignorant, on the contrary, revolves in the world, feeling miserable, and for a little time returns to Brahman to experience happiness. In fact, what is called the world is only thought. When the world disappears, i.e. when there is no thought, the mind experiences happiness; and when the world appears, it goes through misery.
Desirelessness is wisdom. The two are not different; they are the same. Desirelessness is refraining from turning the mind towards any object. Wisdom means the appearance of no object. In other words, not seeking what is other than the Self is detachment or desirelessness; not leaving the Self is wisdom.
Inquiring into the nature of one's self that is in bondage, and realising one's true nature is release.
ShreeRamanavami
SALUTATIONS to Lord Rama, an Incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who is measureless, who is of the nature of pure Consciousness and bliss, who is the consort of Sita, Master of Sri Hanuman, and the Lord of the three worlds, who took His birth at His own will in order to establish righteousness, destroy the wicked and protect His devotees.
Ramnavami or the birthday of Lord Rama falls on the 9th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra (March-April).
Rama was the Lord Hari Himself, incarnate on earth for the destruction of Ravana. He was well accomplished, beautiful and endowed with royal marks. His glory and prowess were unlimited. He was peerless on earth. He was free from malice. He was gentle. He was the protector of all His people. He always addressed them in gentle words. He never used any harsh words even when somebody provoked Him. He held sway over the whole world.
I call this the anti-gossip tonic. When you find that you are wasting your time in gossip, repeat His Name several times. You can make up for the time lost, and the mind will be slowly weaned away from the habit of gossiping.
“The seat of all good things, the destroyer of all impurities of this age of darkness, purer than purity itself, the food for the journey of aspirants on the path to salvation, their only resting place, the very life-breath of virtuous men, is the Divine Name of Sri Rama. So say the sages”.
Ramnavmi is one of the most important festivals of the Vaishnava sect of the Hindus. However, even those who adore Lord Shiva celebrate the occasion. Some observe a strict fast on the day. Temples are decorated and the image of Lord Rama is richly adorned. The holy Ramayana is read in the temples. At Ayodhya, the birthplace of Sri Rama, a big fair is held on this day.
In South India the Sri Ramnavmi Utsavam is celebrated for nine days with great fervour and devotion. Those talented in the art of story-telling narrate the thrilling episodes of the Ramayana. The Kirtanists chant the holy Name of Rama and celebrate the wedding of Rama with Sita on this great day. It is an extremely colourful ceremony, highly inspiring and instructive, too.
2. Devotees read the whole of the Ramayana, either the Sanskrit version of Sage Valmiki or the Hindi version of Saint Tulsidas, during these nine days.
Those who cannot recite the entire epic may read this single verse which contains in a nutshell the story of the Ramayana: “Formerly, Sri Rama went to the forests, where Rishis did penance, and killed the illusive deer. Sita was carried away and Jatayu was killed. Rama met Sugriva, killed Vali and crossed the ocean. The city of Lanka was burnt by Hanuman. The demons, Ravana and Kumbhakarna, were then killed. Thus is recited the holy Ramayana”.
5. On the final or Ramnavmi day, there is a grand worship of Lord Rama in the gorgeously decorated temple. All the Vedic rituals including Laksharchana are performed.
9. Special meetings are held in the evening at which discourses on the life and teachings of the Lord are delivered.
O beloved seekers! time is fleeting. Know the value of time. Time is most precious. Utilise every second profitably. Do not procrastinate. Abandon all idle gossiping. Forget the past. Live every moment of your life for the realisation of the divine ideal and goal. Unfold your latent faculties. Grow, evolve and become a superhuman or a dynamic Yogi. Struggle hard and reach the goal of life.
May you all attain the final beatitude of life through intense devotion towards Lord Rama! May you live immersed in the ecstasy of divine love! May Sri Rama who is as effulgent as a million suns and who is adored by the gods and devotees, protect you all! May the blessings of Lord Rama be upon you all!
Let Sri Rama be your ideal. Ideals are remembered and adored for the purpose of adopting them in your own life. The Ramnavmi celebration or the Vasanta Navaratri every year is an opportune period for us to saturate ourselves with the spirit of Lord Rama. We love and adore our ideals because we express thereby our yearning to unite with them. In our worship of God it is implied that we should be virtuous, good and perfect even as God is. Hence the wise instruction: “One should become divine in order to be able to worship God”. One cannot be a real worshipper of Lord Rama unless one makes an honest attempt to grow in the virtues that the Lord represents. On the other hand, worship of Lord Rama is itself the surest means to develop such virtues.
One who approaches Sri Rama with love and worshipfulness becomes large-hearted, pure in spirit, good-natured and dispassionate in thought, word and deed. A true devotee of Lord Rama is His representative, with His power and His knowledge.
Lord Rama was the prince of the Ikshvaku race. He was virtuous and of manly strength. He was the Lord of the mind and the senses. Brave and valiant, He was yet gentle and modest. He was a sage in counsel, kind and sweet in speech, and most courteous and handsome in appearance. He was the master of all the divine weapons, and a great warrior. Ever devoted to the good and prosperity of His kingdom and His subjects, He was a defender of the weak and the protector of the righteous. Endowed with numerous wondrous powers of the mind, He was well versed in all sciences—in military science as well as the science of the Self.
Deep and unfathomed like the ocean, firm and steadfast like the Himalayan mountains, valiant like Lord Vishnu, He was the joy of Kaushalya. Though fierce like fire on the battlefield, He was calm like the cool breeze of the Mandara Hills, patient like Mother Earth, bounteous like the god of wealth and righteous like the lord of justice himself. In the pains and the griefs of His people, His heart swiftly sympathised with the sufferers. In the festive scenes which held them in joy, He like a father, shared their joys. By His honour and heroism, as well as by His gentleness and love for His subjects, He greatly endeared Himself to the hearts of His people. Such a great person was the Lord Rama!
Lord Rama was the best of men with a sterling character. He was the very image of love. He was an ideal son, an ideal brother, an ideal husband, an ideal friend and an ideal king. He can be taken to embody all the highest ideals of man. He led the ideal life of a householder to teach the tenets of righteousness to humanity. He ruled His people so well that it came to be known as Ram-Rajya, which meant the rule of righteousness, the rule which bestows happiness and prosperity on all.
The noblest lesson embodied in the Ramayana is the supreme importance of righteousness in the life of every human being. Righteousness is the spiritual spark of life. Cultivation of righteousness is the process of unfoldment of the latent divinity in man. The glorious incarnation of the Supreme Being in the form of Lord Rama has exemplified the path of righteousness. Let mankind follow His footsteps and practise the ideals cherished by Him, for it is only thus that there can be everlasting peace, prosperity and welfare in this world.
None but the righteous can be truly happy. None but he who has the correct sense of duty and the will for its implementation can be said to live worthily. One must be imbued with a definite conviction about the supremacy of moral principles, ethical values and spiritual ideals. These ought to guide one’s day-to-day actions and serve as powerful means for the culture of the human personality. That is the purpose of life. That is the way to Self-realisation. That is the message and the mission of Lord Rama’s fife on earth.
To a devotee, Sri Rama is not simply a good and a great person, but God Himself. Rama was the son of King Dasaratha of Ayodhya, but He is also the divine omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient God. The destruction of the ten-headed Ravana signifies the annihilation of the mind or the ten senses. Worship of Lord Rama is worship of the all-pervading Godhead Himself. Read the prayers offered by Mandothari and Brahma in the Yuddha Kanda of the Ramayana. They refer to Rama as the one Creator of the universe, the God of all, the Ruler of the universe.
Devotion to God is not a simple emotion. It is the result of intense dispassion and purity of heart and attitude. You should strive your utmost to possess the good qualities that are extolled in the Ramayana and exemplified in the life of Lord Rama. Otherwise, emotion may rise up in you temporarily to a kind of ecstasy, but you will not experience divine consciousness thereby. Devotion is a fruit which ripens gradually through the processes of self-restraint and virtue. Without intense dispassion there can be no real Sadhana for Self-realisation. Only after detachment from the world of things, is it possible to attain the Supreme Godhead. Remember this.
Devotion has absolutely nothing to do with age, caste, creed, position or sex. Generally, the worldly-minded people say: “We will practise meditation and devotion when we retire from service.” This is a serious mistake. How can you do serious Sadhana after squeezing out all your energy in working? How will you be able to practise the strict Yogic discipline in your old age? Is there any certainty in life? No, the spiritual seeds of discipline and devotion must be sown in you while you are young, while your heart is tender and untainted. Then only will it strike a deep root, blossom forth and bear fruit when you become old and retire. Only then can you bravely face the god of death and meet him with a smile!
I shall tell you the means of attaining the final release from the great cycle of births and deaths. Devotion to Lord Rama is a great purifier of the heart. From devotion arises knowledge. From knowledge comes the realisation of the pure Self. Knowing this perfectly, one goes to the Supreme Abode and merges in the Supreme Self.
Without first developing devotion to Rama who is the Self, who lives in the hearts of all beings, who is all bliss and who is peerless, how can man cross the ocean of worldly life which has sorrow, pain and misery for its waves?
Do thou therefore worship Lord Rama who is Vishnu and the consort of Sita who is Lakshmi. Abandon all foolishness and enmity. Take to the service of Lord Rama.
The Lord is extremely fond of those who have surrendered themselves to Him. He has given this promise in the Ramayana: “To anyone who once takes shelter under Me and solicits ‘I am Thine’, I bestow fearlessness from all beings. This is My vow”.
Even a great sinner who is full of evil qualities and who is fond of other people’s wealth, is freed from all kinds of faults that pertain to worldly life if only he remembers the Lord always. He attains purity and goes to the supreme abode of the Lord.
The Name of Lord Rama is the greatest purifier of the heart. It wipes away all one’s sins. Not only this, but it wipes away the sinful tendencies as well. The Name is sweeter than the sweetest of objects. It is the haven of peace. It is the very life of pure souls. It is the purifier of all purifying agencies. It quenches the consuming fire of worldly desires. It awakens the knowledge of God. It bathes the aspirant in the, ocean of divine bliss. Glory to Sri Rama and His Name!
O Devotee! recite His Name, sing His glory and serve His Lotus Feet. Enthrone in your heart Lord Rama of dark hue, whose image is reflected in the heart of Lord Shiva. Blessed is the pious soul who uninterruptedly drinks the nectar of Sri Rama’s Name which has been churned out of the ocean of the Vedas, which removes the impurities of the Kali Yuga or the iron age, which lives constantly on the lips of Lord Shiva, which is a sovereign remedy or unfailing specific to cure the disease of worldly existence and which is the life of Mother Sita.
Ram-Nam burns ignorance, passion and sin. With or without knowledge, correctly or incorrectly, when the word “Rama” is pronounced it showers a rain of good upon the devotee. Sri Rama is Brahman who takes one across the ocean of worldly existence. Rama is one in across whom the Yogis sport, that is, the Self within.
Lord Shiva tells His consort Parvati: “This Ram-Nam is equal to the Lord’s thousand Names, or repetition of the Mantra a thousand times”.
The University of Hard Knocks
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The University of Hard Knocks
"Sweet are the uses of adversity;
MORE than a million people have sat in audiences in all parts of
the United States and have listened to "The University of Hard
kinds of audiences. Ralph Parlette is kept busy year after year
of many deliveries.
shake the hand of every person who has sat in my audiences. And I
wish I could tell the lecture committees of America how I
appreciate the vast amount of altruistic work they have done in
bringing the audiences of America together. For lecture audiences
The warm reception given "The University of Hard Knocks" by the
public, has encouraged the publishers to put more of Mr. Parlette's
are now in preparation as this, the third edition of "The
University of Hard Knocks" comes from the press.
The University of Hard Knocks
I. THE BOOKS ARE BUMPS--Every bump a lesson--Why the two kinds of
bumps--Description of University--"Sweet are the uses of
II. THE COLLEGE OF NEEDLESS KNOCKS, the bumps that we bump
into--Getting the coffee-pot--Teaching a wilful child--Bumps make
III. THE COLLEGE OF NEEDFUL KNOCKS, the bumps that bump into
ones shake up and the little ones shake down--The barrel of life
people--A glimpse of Gunsaulus
VI. THE PROBLEM OF "PREPAREDNESS"--Preparing children for
children--The story of "Gussie" and "Bill Whackem"--Schools and
Menace of America not swollen fortunes but shrunken souls--
Helping the turkeys killed them--the happiness of work we love--
Amusement drunkards--Lure of the city--Strong men from the
Must save the home towns--A school of struggle--New School
VII. THE SALVATION OF A "SUCKER"--You can't get something for
experience--Theory and practice--Tuning the strings of life
VIII. LOOKING BACKWARD--Memories of the price we pay--My first
school teaching--Loaning the deacon my money--Calling the roll of
my schoolmates--At the grave of the boy I had envied--Why Ben Hur
but stop--Few go on south--The plague of incompetents--Today our
principle, not praise--Doing duty for the joy of it--Becoming the
"Father of Waters"--Go on south forever!
you some of the multiplication table of life--not mine, not yours
lecture go differently before every audience. The kind of an
audience is just as important as the kind of a lecture. A cold
When I was a boy we had a barrel of sorghum in the woodshed. When
the woodshed to get a bucket of sorghum from that barrel.
I have brought a barrel of sorghum to this audience. The name of
the sorghum is "The University of Hard Knocks." I can only pull the
of this audience. You can have all you want of it, but to get it to
it. How much any one gets out of a lecture depends also upon the
size of the bucket he brings to get it in. A big bucket can get
That often explains why one person says a lecture is great, while
the next person says he got nothing out of it.
Here is a great mass of words and sentences and pictures to express
two or three simple little ideas of life, that our education is our
promote mental digestion like more bulk in the way of pictures and
discussions of these truths. Here is bulk as well as nutriment.
I believe in the Angel of Good inside every block of human marble.
I believe it must be carved out in The University of Hard Knocks.
see more of the Angel in you.
The University of Hard Knocks
THE greatest school is the University of Hard Knocks. Its books are
matter with us, so that we do not learn the lesson of the bump we
Some of us learn to go forward with a few bumps, but most of us are
The tuition in the University of Hard Knocks is not free.
Experience is the dearest teacher in the world. Most of us spend
our lives in the A-B-C's of getting started.
There are two kinds of people--wise people and fools. The fools are
The playground is all of God's universe.
The Need of the Bumps
"Sweet are the uses of adversity;
get preachers to preach sermons, and they build houses out of
happy that I am learning the sweet tho painful lessons of the
University of Adversity. I am happy that I am beginning to listen.
preaching and every running brook the unfolding of a book.
But if you will remember some of these things, they will feel like
two kinds of bumps--bumps that we need and bumps that we do not
We discover, in other words, that The University of Hard Knocks has
two colleges--The College of Needless Knocks and The College of
The College of Needless Knocks
There comes a vivid memory of one of my early Needless Knocks as I
That day they had the little joy and sunshine of the family in his
high-chair throne right up beside the dinner table. The coffee-pot
I became enamored with that coffee-pot. I decided I needed that
coffee-pot in my business. I reached over to get the coffee-pot.
And that day when I wanted the coffee-pot--I did want it. Nobody
how I desired that coffee-pot. "One thing thou lackest," a
coffee-pot--
I stopped it. I got the coffee-pot. I know I got the coffee-pot. I
got it. I got about a gallon of the reddest, hottest coffee a bad
applebutter on me--and coal oil and white-of-an-egg and starch and
anything else the neighbors could think of. They would bring it
over and rub it on the little joy and sunshine of the family, who
pleased. She told me not to get the coffee-pot and then let me get
the most kind and effective way to rear one stubborn boy I know of.
The neighbors and the ladies' aid society often said my mother was
kind of an insect mother was trying to raise. Mother did know. She
"side of the house."
notice upon me, and then let me go ahead and get my coffee-pot.
coffee-pot would spill upon me. I cannot remember when I disobeyed
my mother that a coffee-pot of some kind did not spill upon me, and I
got my blisters. Mother did not inflict them. Mother was not much of an
And thru the bumps we learn that The College of Needless Knocks
runs on the same plan. The Voice of Wisdom says to each of us,
"Child of humanity, do right, walk in the right path. You will be
We get off the right path. We go down forbidden paths. They seem
It wasn't my fault--all my bumps and coffee-pots! I was just
to learn the lesson of the bump and find the right path, so that
The other day I watched a blind man go down the aisle of the car to
get off the train. Did you ever study the walk of a blind man? He
line of least resistance, depend upon it you are going downward.
Look over your community. Note the handful of brave, faithful,
getting in the way of the pushers.
brave minority of thinking, self-sacrificing people that decides
the tomorrow of communities that go upward. Majorities are not
Human life is the story of the Prodigal Son. We look over the fence
of goodness into the mystery of the great unknown world beyond and
Down the great white way of the world go the million prodigals,
They just must get their coffee-pot!
The last thing Mamma Fly said as Johnny went off to the city was,
several minutes. But when he sees all the smart young flies of his
right, of course, but she isn't up-to-date. We young set of modern
You see Johnny fly back and forth and have the time of his
so soft and soothing!"
First he puts one foot down and pulls it out. That is a lot of fun.
flypaper. It is a fine place to stick around. All his young set of
Most of them stay. They just settle down into the stickiness
The tuition in The College of Needless Knocks is very high indeed!
The world loves to write resolutions of respect. How often we
There is a good deal of suicide charged up to Providence.
The College of Needful Knocks
BUT occasionally all of us get bumps that we do not bump into. They
were bumped. Some of you in this audience are just now wondering
are lessons in The College of Needful Knocks. They point upward to
most of these knocks--who have faced the great crises of life and
have been tried in the crucibles of affliction. For I am learning
The Sorrows of the Piano
see you. You are so shiny, beautiful, valuable and full of music,
Did you get the meaning of that, children? I hope you are green.
The Sufferings of the Red Mud
One day I was up the Missabe road about a hundred miles north of
hole--about a half-mile of hole. There were steam-shovels at work
throwing out of that hole what I thought was red mud.
"Kind sir, why are they throwing that red mud out of that hole?" I
of this same red mud. It had been moved over the Great Lakes and
of which being The College of Needful Knocks for Red Mud.
Then they pulled the plug out of the bottom of the college and held
Some of the pig iron went into another department, a big teakettle,
Some of the sophomore steel went up into another grade where it was
roasted yet again and rolled thin into a junior. Some of that went
If a ton of that red mud had become watch-springs or razor-blades,
the price had gone up into thousands of dollars.
a larger life. The diamond and the chunk of soft coal are exactly the
of Needful Knocks more than has her crude sister of the coal-scuttle.
crucibles of affliction. There is no gold that has not been refined
right down to the foot of the platform. The subject was The
University of Hard Knocks. Presently the cripple's face was shining
said. "I have been in pain most of my life. But I have learned all
well-gowned. She lived in one of the finest homes in the city. She
What would you have said? Just on the spur of the moment--I said,
The cripple girl had traveled ahead of her jealous mother. For
Schools of Sympathy
When I see a long row of cots in a hospital or sanitarium, I want
precious lessons of patience, sympathy, love, faith and courage.
more than tables of logarithms. Only those who have suffered can
sympathize. They are to become a precious part of our population.
are truly new chapters of our education if we are willing to learn
We think this is true of the good things that come to us, but we do
not want to think so of the bad things. Yet we grow more in lean
prosperity do not often travel hand-in-hand. When we become
materially very prosperous, so many of us begin to say, "Is not
Think of what might happen to you today. Your home might burn. We
look out! Some of your friends would say, "I am so sorry for you.
for it is not true. The old enemy of humanity wants you to believe
The truth is, another chapter of your real education has been
opened. Will you read the lesson of the Needful Knocks?
Out of the trenches of the Great War come nations chastened by
sacrifice and purged of their dross.
NOW as we learn the lessons of the Needless and the Needful Knocks,
a picture of it.
track was a grocery with a row of barrels of apples in front. There
was one barrel full of big, red, fat apples. I rushed over and got
a sack of the big, red, fat apples. Later as the train was under
All I could figure out was that there was only one layer of the
have reached to the bottom, for he gave me the worst mess of runts
Man of sorrows, you have been slandered. It never occurred to me
need to do it. It does itself. It is the shaking of the barrel that
in the Black Swamp of Ohio we had corduroy roads. Did you ever see
a corduroy road? It was a layer of logs in the mud. Riding over it
was the poetry of motion! The wagon "hit the high spots." And as I
hauled a wagon-bed full of apples to the cider-mill over a corduroy
of my pocket and the little ones would rattle down to the bottom.
big ones and some little things of about the same density in a box
you cannot change the place of one of the objects.
inside of it you see two sizes of objects--a lot of little white
Equality of position demands quality of size. Let the little one
The Shaking Barrel of Life
O, fellow apples! We are all apples in the barrel of life on the
way to the market place of the future. It is a corduroy road and
In other words, all the people of the world are in the great barrel
of life. That barrel is shaking all the time. Every community is
shaking, every place is shaking. The offices, the shops, the
live or work is shaking. Life is a constant survival of the
barrel of life. It is sending small people down and great people
the eternal law of life.
our train of destiny will run off and leave us, and we will have no
Kings and Queens of Destiny
you and I are not helpless victims of blind fate. We are not
creatures of chance. We have it in our hands to decide our destiny
Each person is doing one of three things consciously or
shops, offices or elsewhere, if you want to hold your place you
of people working for me, I would have a jar in my office filled
with various sizes of objects. When an employee would come into the
office and say, "Isn't it about time I was getting a raise?" I
Luck does not depend upon the direction of the bump, but upon the
size of the bump-ee!
to size. Every business concern can tell you stories like that of
the Chicago house where a number of young ladies worked. Some of
girl from the country. It was her first office experience, and she
"Is not she the limit?" they oft spake one to another. She was. She
rules of the union! Without being told, mind you. She had that rare
Within three months every other girl in that office was asking
questions of the little Dutch girl. She had learned more about
the most capable girl in the office.
The barrel did the rest. Today she is giving orders to all of them,
for she is the office superintendent.
Going out of the building, I asked the foreman, "Do you see that
He is one of the kindest-hearted men we ever had in the works, but
So books could be filled with just such stories of how people have
Some of us begin life on the top branches, right in the sunshine of
Some of us begin down in the shade on the bottom branches, and we
do not even get invited. We often become discouraged as we look at
And afterwhile we are all in the barrel of life, shaken and bumped
about. There the real people do not often ask us, "On what branch
of that tree did you grow?" But they often inquire, "Are you big
appear to have about the same round of duties.
routine of life must every day flash a new attractiveness. We must
smaller. The joy and juice go out of our lives. We shrivel and rattle.
The success, joy and glory of life are in learning, growing, going
competitors. The minister must be getting larger visions of the
I shiver as I see the pages of school advertisements in the
We often think the way to get a great place is just to go after it
many of us expect to get ready in "four easy lessons by mail."
rattling. A testimonial so often becomes a crutch.
Many a man writes a testimonial to get rid of somebody. "Well, I
hope it will do him some good. Anyhow, I have gotten him off my
The Menace of the Press-Notice
Now testimonials and press-notices very often serve useful ends. In
lyceum work, in teaching, in very many lines, they are often useful
to introduce a stranger. A letter of introduction is useful. A
kinds of testimonials.
The danger is that the hero of them may get to leaning upon them.
Then they become a mirror for his vanity instead of a monitor
progress by reading my press-notices instead of listening to the
verdict of my audiences. I avoided frank criticism. It would hurt
Alas! How often I have learned that when I did return the hall that
editors of America--God bless them! They are always trying to boost
a home enterprise--not for the sake of the imported attraction but
for the sake of the home folks who import it.
yourself go by"--when you can keep still and see every fibre of you
rejoice, for the kingdom of success is yours.
succeeded by twice as many more. They fail because instead of
The victims of the artificial uplift cannot stay uplifted. They
rattle back, and "the last estate of that man is worse than the
wants you to license him and professionalize him as a beggar.
And so every day that beggar got to be more of a beggar. The public
hopeless cripple. No doubt he belonged after a few days of the
as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise
Artful Dodger of Section Sixteen. When the whistle would blow--O,
the section-house, why I was not president of that bank. I wondered
why I was not sitting upon one of those mahogany seats instead of
rich wasn't getting richer and the poor poorer, I'd be president of a
Did you ever hear that line of conversation? It generally comes
I am so glad now that I did not get to be president of the bank.
wanted them! They would have been coffee-pots. Thank goodness, we
do not get the coffee-pot until we are ready to handle it.
And this blessed old barrel of life is just waiting and anxious to
greatness is merely an incidental reflection of the inside.
in inches, dollars, acres, votes, hurrahs, or by any other of the
Come, let us grow greater. There is a throne for each of us.
the world is in the business of getting--getting great fortunes,
folderol. Afterwhile the poor old world hears the empty rattle of
I weary of the world's pink-sheet extras about "Getting to the Top"
and "Forging to the Front." Too often they are the sordid story of
a few scrambling over the heads of the weaker ones. Sometimes they
are the story of one pig crowding the other pigs out of the trough
The Secret of Greatness
top." Those two sons of Zebedee wanted to have the greatest places
"Are ye able to drink of the cup?" Then he gave the only definition
of greatness that can ever stand: "Whosoever will be great among
This is the Big Business of life--going up, getting educated,
is little business. Much of it mighty little.
Everybody's privilege and duty is to become great. And the joy of
to go off to New York or Chicago or go chasing around the world to
are now upward for an infinite number of steps.
We must take the first step now. Most of us want to take the
spectacular stride of a thousand steps at one leap. That is why we
workshop or our office and take the first step, solve the problem
blessings, we find love, the universal solvent, shining out of our
of earth are born; they rush in from the cold lands to the warm
We find our kitchen or workshop or office becoming a new throne
of power. We find the world around us rising up to call us blessed.
Generally speaking, the smaller our vision of our work, the more we
ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." That great ocean is
have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she
of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had."
Tho the rich men had cast in more, yet it was only a part of their
Master cared little what the footings of the money were in the
fear of want.
advancement of the kingdom of happiness on earth shall find it
upon the percentage of our output to our resources. Upon doing with
The world says some of us have golden gifts and some have copper
gifts. But when we cast them all into the treasury of right
to make a roster of the great people of a community. You will find
service of God is the service of man.
The great people of the community serve and sacrifice for a better
They rarely get thanked, for the community does not often think of
thanking them until it comes time to draft the "resolutions of
I had to go to the mouth of a coal-mine in a little Illinois town,
the tickets and had done all the managing. He was superintendent of
the Sunday school. He was the storm-center of every altruistic
strut and pose in the show places. Few of them are "prominent
A Glimpse of Gunsaulus
he founded by his own preaching. He is the mainspring of so many
think that a vacation means going off somewhere and stretching out
history of each place, and before dinner he knew more about the
place than most of the natives.
were doing nothing. In every town he would discover somebody of
once ask the price of land, nor where there was a good investment
doesn't the doctor take care of himself, instead of taking care of
the by-products. His life of service for others makes him
This Chicago man gives his life into the service of humanity, and
things he does. Let him stop and "take care of himself," and his
If he had begun life by "taking care of himself" and "looking out
the backwoods of Morrow county, Ohio.
Gunsaulus often says, "You are planning and saving and telling
The Problem of "Preparedness"
THE problem of "preparedness" is the problem of preparing children
for life. All other kinds of "preparedness" fade into
insignificance before this. The history of nations shows that their
strength was not in the size of their armies and in the vastness
of their population and wealth, but in the strength and ideals
of the individual citizens.
Then, forgetful of how they became strong, they plan to take away
generally means getting out of his way. Many an orphan can be
will buy any brand they see--buy the home brand of education, or
else send off to New York or Paris or to "Sears Roebuck," and get
a bucketful or a tankful of education. If they are rich enough,
maybe they will have a private pipeline of education laid to their
until they get them full of education. They are going to get them
acquired in a life of struggle." As well expect the athlete to give
them his physical development he has earned in years of exercise.
acquired in years of practice. As well expect the scholar to give
them the ability to think he has developed in years of study. As
in a long life of prayer.
The Story of "Gussie"
great, dirty mill and a lot of little dirty houses around the mill.
The hands lived in the little dirty houses and worked six days of
There was a little, old man who went about that mill, often saying,
"I hain't got no book l'arnin' like the rest of you." He was the
man who owned the mill. He had made it with his own genius out of
The little old man often said, "I'm going to give that boy the best
export, he sent the boy to one of the greatest universities in the
blindness of his love he robbed his boy of his birthright.
The birthright of every child is the opportunity of becoming
great--of going up--of getting educated.
from Texas goes thru Mr. Armour's institute of packnology in
and receives it. There is a row of professors with their sleeves
rolled up who give him the degrees. So as Mr. T. Steer of Panhandle
eternal cold storage, each professor hits him a dab. He rides along
done and the paint was dry. He was a thing of beauty.
crape hanging on the office door. Men and women stood weeping in
a wreck. The monument of a father's lifetime was wrecked in two
had a new kind of boss. If I were to give the new boss a
of the wrecked mill, they simply had to appoint Hon. William Whackem.
fool of Gussie. They said Bill succeeded so well because he never
went to one of "them highbrow schools." I am sorry to say I thought
But now I see that Bill went up in spite of his handicaps. If he
The book and the college suffer at the hands of their friends. They
Gussie was in the position of a man with a very fine equipment of
acquired these elements of greatness in their lives.
That is why they say, "All my life I have been handicapped by lack of
machine from a few bits of junk. But send him to Westinghouse and
just one series of greater commencements.
school of service and write your education in the only book you
ever can know--the book of your experience.
The Tragedy of Unpreparedness
The story of Gussie and Bill Whackem is being written in every
tragedy of our American civilization today.
fine homes and large bank accounts, so often think they can give
A man heard me telling the story of Gussie and Bill Whackem, and he
went out of my audience very indignant. He said he was very glad
has his head bowed in shame over the career of his spoiled son.
I rarely tell of it on a platform that at the close of the lecture
gibbeted in the pulpits as the shocking example of youthful
a man. He seems to have been robbed of his birthright from the
cradle. Yet the father of this boy who has cost America millions in
court and detention expenses was one of the greatest business
generals of the Keystone state. He could plat great coal empires
and command armies of men, but he seems to have been pitifully
ignorant of the fact that the barrel shakes.
the training of their children. Poverty is a better trainer for the rest.
The menace of America lies not in the swollen fortunes, but in the
how few of our strong men get their start with steam heat?
take care of me, and when they are gone I'll inherit everything
earn for yourself, is robbing you of your birthright.
insect struggling inside the cocoon. It was trying to get out of
struggle. For it was this struggle of breaking its own way out of
lie down to sleep, then another day of the same grind, then a year
of it and years following until our machine is worn out and on the
of the whip. Such a worker is the horse we used to have hitched to
But getting a vision of life, and working to grow upward to it,
to crack and the little turkeys began to stick their heads out of
the shells. Some of the little turkeys came out from the shells all
right, but some of them stuck in the shells.
hand." So I picked the shells off. "Little turkeys, you will never
Did I help them? I killed them, or stunted them. Not one of the turkeys
was "right" that I helped. They were runts. One of them was a regular
The cards are against him. He must succeed in spite of his "advantages."
character, for the joy of having a larger life. I am pleading with
you to know the joy of overcoming and having the angels come and
instead of by shaking up.
Happiness is the joy of overcoming. It is the delight of an
expanding consciousness. It is the cry of the eagle mounting
upward. It is the proof that we are progressing.
We find happiness in our work, not outside of our work. If we
me into "taking care" of myself. And I got to taking such good care
of myself and watching for symptoms that I became a physical wreck.
almost every day of the year--maybe two or three times some
day is jam full of play and vacation and good times. The year is
one round of joy, and I ought to pay people for the privilege of
speaking and writing to them instead of them paying me!
If I did not like my work, of course, I would be carrying a
I have never known a case of genuine "overwork." I have never known
of anyone killing himself by working. But I have known of
This is one species of selfishness.
Many Kinds of Drunkards
What a sad, empty lot of rattlers! Look over the bills of the movies,
look over the newsstands and see a picture of the popular mind,
of mental frog-pond and moral slum our boys and girls wade thru!
are a hundred amusement drunkards to one victim of strong drink.
crowd that finds itself back near the caboose, and as the train of
The Lure of the City
jam of people, most of them imitations--most of them trying to look
like they get more salary. Poor, hungry, doped butterflies of the
will arise and go to his father's house of wisdom. But there is no
over to contracting another set of muscles.
Go to the bank president's office, go to the railroad magnate's
office, go to the great pulpit, to the college chair--go to any
place of great responsibility in a city and ask the one who fills
He glows as he tells you of some log-cabin home, hillside or
the weaklings of the artificial life, he rises above them like the
eagle soars above a lot of chattering sparrows.
the farms controls the majority. The red blood of redemption flows
these cities would drop off the map.
for lack of leaders.
But so many of the home towns of America are sick. Many are dying.
It is the lure of the city--and the lure-lessness of the country.
people in this institution and only a score of guards to keep them
insane. No two of them can agree upon how to get together and how
to break out. So a few of us can hold them."
thinking ever since that about three-fourths of the small towns of
A lot of struggling churches compete with each other instead of
out of a hundred of them will jostle with the straphangers all
Ninety-nine out of a hundred of them might have had a larger
spend its years raising crops of young people for the cities. That
is the worst kind of soil impoverishment--all going out and nothing
America is to be great, not in the greatness of a few crowded
cities, but in the greatness of innumerable home towns.
A School of Struggle
Dr. Henry Solomon Lehr, founder of the Ohio Northern University at
Ada, Ohio, one of Ohio's greatest educators, used to say with
He encouraged his students to be self-supporting, and most of them
courses elastic to accommodate them. He saw the need of combining
the school of books with the school of struggle. He organized his
for the military department. His school was one surging mass of
of men and women of uniformly greater achievement.
I believe the most useful schools today are schools of struggle
schools offering encouragement and facilities for young people to
academies and colleges, each with its handful of students around a
teacher, as in the old days of the lyceum in Athens, when the
From these schools came the makers and the preservers of the nation.
to sit in the chairs and speak the last word in every department of
O, how the students of the "dark ages" would have rejoiced to see
this day! Many of them never saw a germ!
personal struggle in the cushions of the "frat" house as back on
not be rows of lithographed cans on the shelves of life. I am
hoping they will not be shorn of their individuality, but will have
All this school machinery is only machinery. Back of it must be
spirit of its teachers are its greatest endowment. And sometimes
The Salvation of a "Sucker"
For that sentence utters one of the fundamentals of life that
underlies every field of activity.
string--the little E string. The trouble is so many of these human
them the full complement of strings for their life symphonies.
lot of discord. The violin is to give music.
the violin must go into the great tuning school of life. Here the
vitalized, what you have written in the book of experience.
All of us are Christopher Columbuses, discovering the same new-old
continents of Truth. That is the true happiness of
idea of them. We hear the preacher utter truths and we say with
little feeling, "Yes, that is so." We hear the great truths of life
consciousness. This joy of discovery is the joy of living.
thing. We could read a thousand descriptions of the sun and not
know the sun as in one glimpse of it with our own eyes.
I used to stand in the row of blessed little rascals in the
hands upon hot stoves and coffee-pots, and had to get many kinds of
taking up a collection of sympathy. "Look at my bad luck!" Fool!
drink from a copper kettle. But I have fed him the fingers of this
of oxen and had said the words. But I have!
barrel always shakes all of one size to one place. You notice
that--in a city all of one size get together.
me out of all I had in about five seconds.
I went over to the other side of the fairgrounds and sat down. That
I am putting these cakes of Wonder Soap in my hat. You see I am
hat. Now who will give me five dollars for the privilege of taking
a cake of this wonderful soap from my hat--any cake you want, gentlemen!"
And right on top of the pile was the cake with the ten wrapped
to lock up. You get the pathos of that--the investments nobody
hear of a rubber plantation in Central America? That was mine.
I had in that drawer my "Everglade" farm. Did you ever hear of the
I had also a bale of mining stock. I had stock in gold mines and
my gold and silver mine stock, I often noticed that it was printed
melon! I have heard that all my life and never got a piece of the rind.
was selling it on his reputation. Favorite dodge of the promoter to
dollar and got back a dollar or two of bonds and a dollar or two of
I pitied his lack of vision. Bankers were such "tightwads." They
had no imagination! Nothing interested me that did not offer fifty
savings into the bottom of the sea.
Then I got a confidential letter from a friend of our family I had
was a friend of our family. "You have been selected because you are
"Because of your tremendous influence you have been selected to go
money for Tom, the friend of our family. But I see now I need not
happened in St. Louis. It is none of your business!
dollars to corner the wheat market of the world. That is all I paid
I have always regarded Tom as one of my great school teachers. I
had made up to that time, for I got the most out of it. I do not
floor. I will not grasp it. Come away, it is a coffee-pot!
Today when somebody offers me much more than the legal rate of
interest I know he is no friend of our family.
If he offers me a hundred per cent. I call for the police!
law of compensation is never suspended. You only own what you earn.
have been selected to receive this bunch of blisters because you
The other night in a little town of perhaps a thousand, a banker
took me up into his office after the lecture in which I had related
some of the above experiences. "The audience laughed with you and
pathetic. It was a picture of what is going on in our own little
I wish you could see the thousands of hard-earned dollars that go
out of our community every year into just such wildcat enterprises
as you described. The saddest part of it is that the money nearly
always goes out of the pockets of the people who can least afford
accumulates by sharp practices or by undue profits never owns it.
The owning is in the understanding of values.
I often think if it takes me thirty-four years to begin to learn
one sentence, I see the need of an eternity.
To me that is one of the great arguments for eternal life--how slowly
that life is one infinite succession of commencements and
decorated and the joy of youth is everywhere. There is a row of
geraniums along the front of the stage and a big oleander on the
"We (hands at half-mast and separating) are rowing (business of
propelling aerial boat with two fingers of each hand, head
up over Alps of difficulty and seeing the Italy of promise and
Did you ever hear a young preacher, just captured, just out of a factory?
But I made the mistake I am trying to warn you against. Instead of
of my experience, I went to the books in my father's library. "As
chunk of Shakespeare and nailed it on page five of my sermon. "List
"cry here." This was the spilling-point of the wet climax. I was to
cry on the lefthand side of the page.
I made my mistake. I got a lot of fine gestures. I got an
grandly than ever to a mirror. Every gesture went off the bat
last man out of the church--and I hurried. But they beat me
out--all nine of them. When I went out the door, the old sexton
peal from that part of your audience unrelated to you.
Out of every thousand books published, perhaps nine hundred of them
do not sell enough to pay the cost of printing them. As you study
been lived. Perhaps the books that fail have just as much of truth
vital impulse. They come out of the author's head. The books that
live must come out of his heart. They are his own life. They come
surging and pulsating from the book of his experience.
The best part of our schooling comes not from the books, but from
But the soul of the artist fainted,
and irrigation and gargling of the throat are merely symptoms of
attended to. She sang that afternoon in the tent, "The Last Rose of
the same tent "The Last Rose of Summer." She had never been to
case of Gussie and Bill Whackem.
cannot sing "The Last Rose of Summer" yet, for you do not know very
much about the first rose of summer. And really, I hope you'll
sing that song, for it is the sob of a broken-hearted woman. Learn
Why do singers try to execute songs beyond the horizon of their
The Success of a Song-Writer
The guest of honor at a dinner in a Chicago club was a woman who is
one of the widely known song-writers of this land. As I had the
"How did you get your songs known? How did you know what kind of
resources. I have had years of struggle. I have been sick and
asks for more of them."
"Just a Wearyin' for You," "His Lullaby" and many more of those
simple little songs so full of the pathos and philosophy of life
No. Books of theory and harmony and expression only teach us how to
the life of the song.
the University of Hard Knocks. She here became the song philosopher
popular heart. And while we have a continual inundation of popular
My friends, I am not arguing that you and I must drink the dregs of
around me in the affairs of everyday life, that none of us will
ever know real success in any line of human endeavor until that
success flows from the fullness of our experience just as the songs
came from the life of Carrie Jacobs-Bond.
The world is full of theorists, dreamers, uplifters, reformers, who
or trampling upon their fellow men they dream of helping. Their
the anvil of experience.
Many of the most brilliant theorists have been the greatest
anything you could think of was discussed, and perhaps the page. He
His conversation was largely made up of classical quotations.
But he was one of the most helpless men I have ever seen in
himself. He could quote a page of John Locke, but somehow the page
a misfit on earth. He was liable to put the gravy in his coffee
of the things in his memory. Since I have grown up I always think
of that man as an intellectual cold storage plant.
The greatest book is the textbook of the University of Hard Knocks,
the Book of Human Experience the "sermons in stones" and the "books
Note the sweeping, positive statements of the young person.
Note the cautious, specific statements of the person who has lived
Tuning the Strings of Life
of Human Experience. Each has a different fight to make and a
different burden to carry. Each one of us has more trouble than
I know there are chapters of heroism in the lives of you older
ones. You have cried yourselves to sleep, some of you, and walked
A good many of you were bumped today or yesterday, or maybe years
Maybe some of you are naturally bright!
of you are going to know the keen sorrow of having the one you
You will see all that seems to make life livable lost out of your
These bumps and tragedies and Waterloos draw the strings of the
unworthy go out of our lives and as peace, harmony, happiness, love
Memories of the Price We Pay
That "Last Day of School"
I walked thirteen miles a day, six and a half miles each way, most of
old back-country "last day of school exhibition"? The people that
great baskets of provender and we had a feast. We covered the
school desks with boards, and then covered the boards with piles of
fried chicken, doughnuts and forty kinds of pie.
Then we had a "doings." Everybody did a stunt. We executed a lot of
back of the ears! And into them! So many of them wore collars that
I can see them speaking their "pieces." I can see "The Soldier of
to yell. Tomorrow I would get my money! I had a speech I had been
got up before that "last day of school" audience and opened my
mouth, it was a great opening, but nothing came out. It came out of
was "such a good man" and a "pillar of the church." I used to wonder,
"due at corncutting," as a souvenir of my first schoolteaching.
of its own household.
And he has gotten his lecture out of that home town. The heroes and
could live in that hotel was a superior order of being. But the
hotel has a superior order of vitality.
a picture of the school in that town that had been taken twenty-one
I got a truer perspective of life that night. Did you ever sit
alone with a picture of your classmates taken twenty-one years
A class of brilliant and gifted young people went out to take
charge of the world. They were so glad the world had waited so long
on them. They were so willing to take charge of the world. They
not the one you may be thinking of! No, it was Jim Lambert. He had
As commencement day approached, the committee of the class
appointed for that purpose took Jim back of the schoolhouse and
speech that would do credit to such a brilliant class. They hid Jim
on the stage back of the oleander commencement night.
goddess at the general delivery window and superintendent of the
stamp-licking department of the home postoffice. The boy who was
wife was speaker of the house.
Most of them were doing very well even Jim Lambert. Jim had become
the head of one of the big manufacturing plants of the South, with
a lot of men working for him. The committee that took him out
They hung a picture of Mr. Lambert in the high school at the last
a bit of cheer from the story of Jim?
the barrel, and now as I called the roll on them, most of them that
Out of that fifty-four, one had gone to a pulpit, one had gone to
almost every note on the keyboard of human possibility had been
struck by the one school of fifty-four.
yet most of them seemed already to have decided their destinies.
that the foolish dreams of success faded before the natural
unfolding of talents, which is the real success. I saw better that
work as a man. The boy who went to the bottom of things in school
was going to the bottom of things in manhood. Which had helped him
to go to the top of things!
Jim Lambert had merely followed the call of talents unseen in him
him! Why was it he could always get the better of me? Well, he went
on trading knives and getting the better of people. Now, twenty-one
teacher's model boy. All the mothers of the community used to say
to their own reprobate offspring, "Why can't you be like Harry?
He'll be President of the United States some day, and you'll be in
believe Mr. Webster defines a model as a small imitation of the
I have said little about the girls of the school. Fact was, at that
way. But I naturally thought of Clarice, our social pet of the
her. Most of the girls who shone with less social luster became the
happy homemakers of the community.
But as I looked into the face of Jim Lambert in the picture, my
heart warmed at the sight of another great success--a sweet-faced
her grace and sweetness thru it all, and the influence of her
a loving father, plenty of money, opportunity and a great career
the town proud of him.
I was the janitor of the schoolhouse. Some of my classmates will
the careers of Frank and the rest of them seemed to begin. They
were going off to college and going to do so many wonderful things.
But the week after commencement I had to go into a printing office,
Many a time as I plugged at the "case" I would think of Frank and wonder
Twenty-one years afterward as I got off the train in the home town,
I had the story of a tragedy--the tragedy of modern unpreparedness.
It was the story of the boy who had every opportunity, but who had
all the struggle taken out of his life. He never followed his
It revived the memory of the story of Ben Hur.
trial at the hands of this world. That is why the great Judge has
he pulls on the oar. Day after day he writhes under the sting of
the lash. Years of the cruel injustice pass. Ben Hur is the
helpless victim of a mocking fate.
office, or wherever we work we seem so often like slaves bound to
the oar and pulling under the sting of the lash of necessity. Life
seems one futureless round of drudgery. We wonder why. We often
stronger forearms. They are bands of steel that swell in the
forearms of Ben Hur. They swing those flying Arabians into the
mistakes in the bookkeeping. As we pull on the oar, so often lashed
interest in the bank account of strength. Sooner or later the time
galleys of life by pulling on the oar.
That is why I thanked God as I stood at the grave of my classmate.
I thanked God for parents who believed in the gospel of struggle,
I am not an example of success.
But I am a very grateful pupil in the first reader class of The
University of Hard Knocks.
THERE is a little silvery sheet of water in Minnesota called Lake Itasca.
"Ole!" you will exclaim, "the lake is leaking. What is the name of
So even the Father of Waters has to begin as a creek. We are at the
It wabbles around thru the woods of Minnesota. It doesn't know
to the place where all of us get sooner or later. The place where
Paul came on the road to Damascus. The place of the "heavenly vision."
get out of the county." That is a fact, but he is not trying to get
out of the county. The Mississippi is only trying to go south.
The Mississippi knows nothing about the Gulf of Mexico. He does not
know that he has to go hundreds of miles south. He is only trying
My friends, here is one of the best pictures I can find in nature
of what it seems to me our lives should be. I hear a great many
Value of a Goal in Life." But the direction is vastly more
we flow. All of us can start! And then go on south!
not at the end of the journey, for there is no end. Success is
It is a divine call--the call of our unfolding talents to be used.
direction he would never have been heard of.
That is why I am making it the slogan of my life--GO ON SOUTH AND
education--and religion. And the only business of life.
So many of those young goslings believe that. They quit and get
canned. They think they have gotten to the Gulf of Mexico when they
have not gotten out of the woods of Minnesota. Go on south!
The Plague of Incompetents
But contentment with present achievement is the damnation of the race.
The mass of the human family never go on south far enough to
Nine out of ten stenographers who apply for positions can write a
think that is being a stenographer, when it is merely a symptom of
Nine out of ten workmen cannot be trusted to do what they advertise
efficient. Many a professional man is in the same class.
Half of our life is spent in getting competents to repair the
botchwork of incompetents.
is the opiate that Nature administers to deaden the pains of mediocrity.
Just because our hair gets frosty or begins to rub off in spots, we
A-B-C's. I do not utter that as a bit of sentiment, but as the
great fundamental of our life. I hope the oldest in years sees that
of your gray hair or baldness. If they get on the inside of the head,
to employ gray-headed men? They have found that so many of them
are the most valuable, for they have the vision and wisdom of many
years and the enthusiasm and "pep" and courage of youth.
person in the pulpit, in the schoolroom, in the office, behind the
"Please don't throw it up to me now. I am just as ashamed of it as
the people on the platform who were contented with their offerings,
were not trying to improve them, and were lost in admiration of
From what I can learn of Methuselah, he never grew past copper-toed
The spectacle of Sarah Bernhardt, past seventy, thrilling and
gripping audiences with the fire and brilliancy of youth, is
acting, for she remains the "Divine Sarah" with no crippling of her
work. She looks younger than many women of half her years. "The
ninety-two was working as hard and hopefully as any man of the
the Odd Fellows' Home near Elkins, where he lived. On the porch of
the home was a row of old men inmates. The senator shook hands with
the face of seven thousand failures. Today he brings forth a
even get on the back page of the Egyptian newspapers till he was
If Moses had retired at seventy-nine, we'd never have heard of him.
pitching horseshoes up the alley and talking about "ther winter of
Imagine Moses living today amidst the din of the high school
orations on "The Age of the Young Man" and the Ostler idea that you
time" when he becomes the leader of the Israelite host.
You are liable to drop off any minute. Here is a pair of slippers.
And keep out of the night air. It is so hard on old folks."
what to do. Watch things happen from now on. Children of
Thursday. They get ready the resolutions of respect--
to General Moses' private office. It is his busy day. They have to
man. You are eighty-five years old and full of honors. We are the
to hold that funeral until I get this work pushed off so I can
irreverence. It is joyful reverence. It is the message to all of
All the multitudes of the Children of Israel died in the Wilderness.
They were afraid to go on south. Only two of them went on south--
Joshua and Caleb. They put the giants out of business.
So another crop of Americans came into the limelight. If we modern
They say nobody loves them. Which is often a fact. Nobody loves the
They say, "Only a few more days of trouble, only a few more
child and I'm not happy now. Them was the best days of my life
the horrors of childhood could not be hired to live it over again.
I wish I could forget many of my childhood memories. I remember the
I often wonder how I ever lived thru my childhood. I would not take
nurture and admiration of the Lord. I am not just sure I quoted
Elder Berry always stayed for dinner. He was one of the easiest men
at the last donation. We had one of those stretchable tables,
I would see mother put on the tallest pile of mashed potatoes you
wonder why we never could have a big dinner but what a lot of
The hungriest one of that assemblage would have to go in the next
was only one piece of chicken left. It was the neck. O, Lord, spare
to another piece of the chicken?"
boy?" He would come over to the remains of Brother Parlette's boy.
He would often put his hand in benediction upon my head.
you are seeing the best days of your life right now as a child."
The dear old liar! I was seeing the worst days of my life. If there
and today is the best day of all. Go on south!
days. Of course, you can be happy as a child. A boy can be happy
more like mine like a piece of sandpaper. There are chapters of
happiness undreamed of in his philosophy.
A child can be full of happiness and only hold a pint. But
must hold a barrel! Go on south. Of course, I do not mean
And I have to say that to many questions, "I do not know." I often
They have built a great concrete obstacle clear across the path of
you see the struggle of overcoming the obstacle develops light and
the light and power from the struggle. The great city of St. Louis,
We develop our light and power. We are rivers of light and power,
be developed. So many of us do not understand that. We look
Thank God! You are blessed of Providence. They do not waste the
obstacles. The presence of the obstacles means that there is a lot
of light and power in you to be developed. If you see no obstacles,
The fact that we are not buried is no proof that we are alive. Go
storeboxes. There they are blocking traffic at the postoffice and
the guests stand up. There they are--rows of retired farmers who
They block the wheels of progress and get in the way of the people
trying to go on south. They say of the people trying to do things.
because they "take money outa town." They do not take any of their
last glimpse of the book in the running brook.
is the supreme test of character. That is, Why go on south? Not for
The Mississippi does not resign. He does not tell a tale of woe. He
alchemy of Nature, the Mississippi has taken over all the poison
made it a part of himself. And he is greater and farther south!
Day by day the Father of Waters goes on south, taking them over and
purifying them and making them a part of himself. Nothing can
along such a heart full of the injuries that other people have done
us, that sometimes we are bank to bank full of poison and a menace
we ought to forget. We need schools of memory, but we need schools
of forgettery, even more.
you help the most often are the least grateful in return?
teacher, the editor, the man in office, the business man, the
father and mother--every one who tries to carry on the work of the
valley for praise or blame, for appreciation or lack of it. You do
for outside thanks instead of inside thanks. They were trying to
streamlet starting southward thru the forests of Minnesota, there
writing the first chapter of this wonderful book in the running brook.
life. Father of Waters, you have fought a good fight. You are
conquering gloriously. You bear upon your bosom the commerce of
you get in the right channel, saw you learn the lessons of your
And may we read it into our own lives. May we get the vision of
getting the lessons of the bumps, the strength from the struggle
and thus making it a part of ourselves, and thus growing greater.
Where shall we stop going south? At the Gulf of Mexico?
And when he comes to the end of his physical banks, he pushes on
When you and I come to our Gulf of Mexico, we must push right on
into the great Gulf of the Beyond, to go on south unfolding thru eternity.
HOW often we say, "I wish I had a million!" Perhaps it is a
O, the problem is not how to get money, but how to get rid of
If the burden were lifted from most of us we would go to wreck.
When you hear the orator speak and you note the ease and power of
his work, do you think of the years of struggle he spent in
preparing? Do you ever think of the times that orator tried to
discipline, experience and grim resolve that made him succeed.
When you hear the musician and note the ease and grace of the
performance, do you think of the years of struggle and overcoming
necessary to produce that finish and grace? That is the story of
the actor, the author and every other one of attainment.
I have builded?" says the Belshazzar of material prosperity as he
that some of us will have to go to jail to do our best work.
Do you remember that Saul of Tarsus would have never been
remembered had he lived the life of luxury planned for him? He had
rising from the ashes of defeat?
Then, children, when you stand in the row of graduates on
O UNIVERSITY OF HARD KNOCKS, we learn to love you more with each
that you are saving us from ourselves. But O, how most of us must
I know no better way to close this lecture than to tell you of a
tho twelve years of my life had dropped out of it, and had been
triangular car that hoists them out of the hungry chasm thirty-five
hundred feet up the side of a granite cliff, to the top of Echo Mountain.
Here they find that Echo Mountain is but a shelf on the side of
Every minute a new thrill, and no two thrills alike. Five miles of
lift. There is a wooden shelf nailed to the side of the perpendicular
rockwall where his life depends upon the honesty of the man who drove
He looks over the edge of the shelf downward, and then turns to the other
side to look at the face of the cliff they are hugging, and discovers
at the summit of Mount Lowe is to get a picture so wonderful it
feet, more than a mile, into the orange belt of Southern California.
It spreads out below in one great mosaic of turquoise and amber
field-glass sweeps one panoramic picture of a hundred miles or more.
forty miles is the blue stretch of the Pacific Ocean, on westward
the faint outlines of Catalina Islands. The ocean seems so close
And Mount Lowe is but a shelf on the side of the higher Sierras.
This is one of the workshops of the infinite!
down upon clouds. I thought of the cloud that had covered me in the
over me, and there were millions of miles of sunshine above me. I
the clouds of trouble today, BUT THE SUN IS SHINING!
clearly the plan of a human life. The rocks, the curves and the
struggles fit into a divine engineering plan to soften the
steepness of the ascent. The bumps are lifts. The things that seem
know it was one of the greatest blessings of my life. It closed one
Late that day I was clambering down the side of Mount Lowe. Down in
lower and lower until his red lips kissed the cheek of the Pacific.
The glory of the sunset filled sea and sky with flames of gold and
fountains of rainbows. Such a sunset from the mountain-side is a
promise of heaven.
The shadows of sunset widened over the valley. Presently all the
up to the summit. The beams of the setting sun were yet gilding
Child of humanity, are you in the storm? Go on upward. Are you in
Some day my night will come. It will spread over all this valley of
shall be in the new day of the mountain-top, forever above the night.
I shall find this mountain-top just another shelf on the side of
the Mountain of Infinite Unfolding. I shall have risen perhaps only
the first mile. I shall have millions of miles yet to rise.
entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared
The Big Business of Life
This book proves that the real big business is that of getting our
Dr. J. G. Crabbe, President of the State Teachers College,
"The Big Business of Life is a real joy to read. It is big and
where. It is truly `A Book of Rejoicing'."
"In The Big Business of Life we have the practical philosophy
secret of living to the full. And happiness is to be sought
a smile, and beneath each one is a bit of wisdom it would do us
a world of good to learn. It recalls the saying of the wise man
Many who have read The Big Business of Life
University of Hard Knocks," which, they add, is
The Salvation of a Sucker
chapters in "The University of Hard Knocks."
John C. Carroll, President of the Hyde Park State Bank of Chicago,
bought 1000 copies of the booklet "It's Up to You!" and of it he
friend. I would rather be author of it than president of the bank."
Employers in every line of business are buying quantities of "It's
William Jennings Bryan says of the booklet "Go On South": "It is
one of the great stories of the day."
Charles Grilk of Davenport, says: "My two children and I read the
Instruct us to send one of these booklets to your friends. It will
End of Project Gutenberg etext of "The University of Hard Knocks"
Discipline of Speech
[DLSMD] > Discipline of Speech
the study of the sacred scriptures, truthfulness - all these will
help you to develop virtuous conduct. Practise austerity of speech.
thoughtless man who has not controlled his organ of speech and who
speaks at random, is entangled in the foolishness of his own words.
the words carefully, before they come out of your mouth. Speak only
Never speak in a harsh tone, never hurt the feelings of others.
Do not talk much. Become a man of measured words. God has given you
Words exist for the transmission of ideas. Words and ideas are
coldness. Be careful in the selection of your words. They can produce
violent disturbance in the feelings of others. Speak only those words
criticism. An undisciplined tongue is a sword that cuts others'
your energy this way. You will enjoy peace of mind and good health.
LifeWithoutPrinciple
AT A LYCEUM, not long since, I felt that the lecturer had chosen a theme too foreign to himself, and so failed to interest me as much as he might have done. He described things not in or near to his heart, but toward his extremities and superficies. There was, in this sense, no truly central or centralizing thought in the lecture. I would have had him deal with his privatest experience, as the poet does. The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer. I am surprised, as well as delighted, when this happens, it is such a rare use he would make of me, as if he were acquainted with the tool. Commonly, if men want anything of me, it is only to know how many acres I make of their land- since I am a surveyor- or, at most, what trivial news I have burdened myself with. They never will go to law for my meat; they prefer the shell. A man once came a considerable distance to ask me to lecture on Slavery; but on conversing with him, I found that he and his clique expected seven eighths of the lecture to be theirs, and only one eighth mine; so I declined. I take it for granted, when I am invited to lecture anywhere- for I have had a little experience in that business- that there is a desire to hear what I think on some subject, though I may be the greatest fool in the country- and not that I should say pleasant things merely, or such as the audience will assent to; and I resolve, accordingly, that I will give them a strong dose of myself. They have sent for me, and engaged to pay for me, and I am determined that they shall have me, though I bore them beyond all precedent.
So now I would say something similar to you, my readers. Since you are my readers, and I have not been much of a traveller, I will not talk about people a thousand miles off, but come as near home as I can. As the time is short, I will leave out all the flattery, and retain all the criticism.
This world is a place of business. What an infinite bustle! I am awaked almost every night by the panting of the locomotive. It interrupts my dreams. There is no sabbath. It would be glorious to see mankind at leisure for once. It is nothing but work, work, work. I cannot easily buy a blank-book to write thoughts in; they are commonly ruled for dollars and cents. An Irishman, seeing me making a minute in the fields, took it for granted that I was calculating my wages. If a man was tossed out of a window when an infant, and so made a cripple for life, or seared out of his wits by the Indians, it is regretted chiefly because he was thus incapacitated for business! I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.
There is a coarse and boisterous money-making fellow in the outskirts of our town, who is going to build a bank-wall under the hill along the edge of his meadow. The powers have put this into his head to keep him out of mischief, and he wishes me to spend three weeks digging there with him. The result will be that he will perhaps get some more money to board, and leave for his heirs to spend foolishly. If I do this, most will commend me as an industrious and hard-working man; but if I choose to devote myself to certain labors which yield more real profit, though but little money, they may be inclined to look on me as an idler. Nevertheless, as I do not need the police of meaningless labor to regulate me, and do not see anything absolutely praiseworthy in this fellow's undertaking any more than in many an enterprise of our own or foreign governments, however amusing it may be to him or them, I prefer to finish my education at a different school.
If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down!
Most men would feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall, and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now. For instance: just after sunrise, one summer morning, I noticed one of my neighbors walking beside his team, which was slowly drawing a heavy hewn stone swung under the axle, surrounded by an atmosphere of industry- his day's work begun- his brow commenced to sweat- a reproach to all sluggards and idlers- pausing abreast the shoulders of his oxen, and half turning round with a flourish of his merciful whip, while they gained their length on him. And I thought, Such is the labor which the American Congress exists to protect- honest, manly toil- honest as the day is long- that makes his bread taste sweet, and keeps society sweet- which all men respect and have consecrated; one of the sacred band, doing the needful but irksome drudgery. Indeed, I felt a slight reproach, because I observed this from a window, and was not abroad and stirring about a similar business. The day went by, and at evening I passed the yard of another neighbor, who keeps many servants, and spends much money foolishly, while he adds nothing to the common stock, and there I saw the stone of the morning lying beside a whimsical structure intended to adorn this Lord Timothy Dexter's premises, and the dignity forthwith departed from the teamster's labor, in my eyes. In my opinion, the sun was made to light worthier toil than this. I may add that his employer has since run off, in debt to a good part of the town, and, after passing through Chancery, has settled somewhere else, there to become once more a patron of the arts.
The ways by which you may get money almost without exception lead downward. To have done anything by which you earned money merely is to have been truly idle or worse. If the laborer gets no more than the wages which his employer pays him, he is cheated, he cheats himself. If you would get money as a writer or lecturer, you must be popular, which is to go down perpendicularly. Those services which the community will most readily pay for, it is most disagreeable to render. You are paid for being something less than a man. The State does not commonly reward a genius any more wisely. Even the poet laureate would rather not have to celebrate the accidents of royalty. He must be bribed with a pipe of wine; and perhaps another poet is called away from his muse to gauge that very pipe. As for my own business, even that kind of surveying which I could do with most satisfaction my employers do not want. They would prefer that I should do my work coarsely and not too well, ay, not well enough. When I observe that there are different ways of surveying, my employer commonly asks which will give him the most land, not which is most correct. I once invented a rule for measuring cord-wood, and tried to introduce it in Boston; but the measurer there told me that the sellers did not wish to have their wood measured correctly- that he was already too accurate for them, and therefore they commonly got their wood measured in Charlestown before crossing the bridge.
The aim of the laborer should be, not to get his living, to get "a good job," but to perform well a certain work; and, even in a pecuniary sense, it would be economy for a town to pay its laborers so well that they would not feel that they were working for low ends, as for a livelihood merely, but for scientific, or even moral ends. Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.
It is remarkable that there are few men so well employed, so much to their minds, but that a little money or fame would commonly buy them off from their present pursuit. I see advertisements for active young men, as if activity were the whole of a young man's capital. Yet I have been surprised when one has with confidence proposed to me, a grown man, to embark in some enterprise of his, as if I had absolutely nothing to do, my life having been a complete failure hitherto. What a doubtful compliment this to pay me! As if he had met me half-way across the ocean beating up against the wind, but bound nowhere, and proposed to me to go along with him! If I did, what do you think the underwriters would say? No, no! I am not without employment at this stage of the voyage. To tell the truth, I saw an advertisement for able-bodied seamen, when I was a boy, sauntering in my native port, and as soon as I came of age I embarked.
The community has no bribe that will tempt a wise man. You may raise money enough to tunnel a mountain, but you cannot raise money enough to hire a man who is minding his own business. An efficient and valuable man does what he can, whether the community pay him for it or not. The inefficient offer their inefficiency to the highest bidder, and are forever expecting to be put into office. One would suppose that they were rarely disappointed.
Perhaps I am more than usually jealous with respect to my freedom. I feel that my connection with and obligation to society are still very slight and transient. Those slight labors which afford me a livelihood, and by which it is allowed that I am to some extent serviceable to my contemporaries, are as yet commonly a pleasure to me, and I am not often reminded that they are a necessity. So far I am successful. But I foresee that if my wants should be much increased, the labor required to supply them would become a drudgery. If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I am sure that for me there would be nothing left worth living for. I trust that I shall never thus sell my birthright for a mess of pottage. I wish to suggest that a man may be very industrious, and yet not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. All great enterprises are self-supporting. The poet, for instance, must sustain his body by his poetry, as a steam planing-mill feeds its boilers with the shavings it makes. You must get your living by loving. But as it is said of the merchants that ninety-seven in a hundred fail, so the life of men generally, tried by this standard, is a failure, and bankruptcy may be surely prophesied.
Merely to come into the world the heir of a fortune is not to be born, but to be still-born, rather. To be supported by the charity of friends, or a government pension- provided you continue to breathe- by whatever fine synonyms you describe these relations, is to go into the almshouse. On Sundays the poor debtor goes to church to take an account of stock, and finds, of course, that his outgoes have been greater than his income. In the Catholic Church, especially, they go into chancery, make a clean confession, give up all, and think to start again. Thus men will lie on their backs, talking about the fall of man, and never make an effort to get up.
It is remarkable that there is little or nothing to be remembered written on the subject of getting a living; how to make getting a living not merely holiest and honorable, but altogether inviting and glorious; for if getting a living is not so, then living is not. One would think, from looking at literature, that this question had never disturbed a solitary individual's musings. Is it that men are too much disgusted with their experience to speak of it? The lesson of value which money teaches, which the Author of the Universe has taken so much pains to teach us, we are inclined to skip altogether. As for the means of living, it is wonderful how indifferent men of all classes are about it, even reformers, so called- whether they inherit, or earn, or steal it. I think that Society has done nothing for us in this respect, or at least has undone what she has done. Cold and hunger seem more friendly to my nature than those methods which men have adopted and advise to ward them off.
The title wise is, for the most part, falsely applied. How can one be a wise man, if he does not know any better how to live than other men?- if he is only more cunning and intellectually subtle? Does Wisdom work in a tread-mill? or does she teach how to succeed by her example? Is there any such thing as wisdom not applied to life? Is she merely the miller who grinds the finest logic? It is pertinent to ask if Plato got his living in a better way or more successfully than his contemporaries- or did he succumb to the difficulties of life like other men? Did he seem to prevail over some of them merely by indifference, or by assuming grand airs? or find it easier to live, because his aunt remembered him in her will? The ways in which most men get their living, that is, live, are mere makeshifts, and a shirking of the real business of life- chiefly because they do not know, but partly because they do not mean, any better.
The rush to California, for instance, and the attitude, not merely of merchants, but of philosophers and prophets, so called, in relation to it, reflect the greatest disgrace on mankind. That so many are ready to live by luck, and so get the means of commanding the labor of others less lucky, without contributing any value to society! And that is called enterprise! I know of no more startling development of the immorality of trade, and all the common modes of getting a living. The philosophy and poetry and religion of such a mankind are not worth the dust of a puffball. The hog that gets his living by rooting, stirring up the soil so, would be ashamed of such company. If I could command the wealth of all the worlds by lifting my finger, I would not pay such a price for it. Even Mahomet knew that God did not make this world in jest. It makes God to be a moneyed gentleman who scatters a handful of pennies in order to see mankind scramble for them. The world's raffle! A subsistence in the domains of Nature a thing to be raffled for! What a comment, what a satire, on our institutions! The conclusion will be, that mankind will hang itself upon a tree. And have all the precepts in all the Bibles taught men only this? and is the last and most admirable invention of the human race only an improved muck-rake? Is this the ground on which Orientals and Occidentals meet? Did God direct us so to get our living, digging where we never planted- and He would, perchance, reward us with lumps of gold?
God gave the righteous man a certificate entitling him to food and raiment, but the unrighteous man found a facsimile of the same in God's coffers, and appropriated it, and obtained food and raiment like the former. It is one of the most extensive systems of counterfeiting that the world has seen. I did not know that mankind was suffering for want of old. I have seen a little of it. I know that it is very malleable, but not so malleable as wit. A grain of gold gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.
The gold-digger in the ravines of the mountains is as much a gambler as his fellow in the saloons of San Francisco. What difference does it make whether you shake dirt or shake dice? If you win, society is the loser. The gold-digger is the enemy of the honest laborer, whatever checks and compensations there may be. It is not enough to tell me that you worked hard to get your gold. So does the Devil work hard. The way of transgressors may be hard in many respects. The humblest observer who goes to the mines sees and says that gold-digging is of the character of a lottery; the gold thus obtained is not the same same thing with the wages of honest toil. But, practically, he forgets what he has seen, for he has seen only the fact, not the principle, and goes into trade there, that is, buys a ticket in what commonly proves another lottery, where the fact is not so obvious.
After reading Howitt's account of the Australian gold-diggings one evening, I had in my mind's eye, all night, the numerous valleys, with their streams, all cut up with foul pits, from ten to one hundred feet deep, and half a dozen feet across, as close as they can be dug, and partly filled with water- the locality to which men furiously rush to probe for their fortunes- uncertain where they shall break ground- not knowing but the gold is under their camp itself- sometimes digging one hundred and sixty feet before they strike the vein, or then missing it by a foot- turned into demons, and regardless of each others' rights, in their thirst for riches- whole valleys, for thirty miles, suddenly honeycombed by the pits of the miners, so that even hundreds are drowned in them- standing in water, and covered with mud and clay, they work night and day, dying of exposure and disease. Having read this, and partly forgotten it, I was thinking, accidentally, of my own unsatisfactory life, doing as others do; and with that vision of the diggings still before me, I asked myself why I might not be washing some gold daily, though it were only the finest particles- why I might not sink a shaft down to the gold within me, and work that mine. There is a Ballarat, a Bendigo for you- what though it were a sulky-gully? At any rate, I might pursue some path, however solitary and narrow and crooked, in which I could walk with love and reverence. Wherever a man separates from the multitude, and goes his own way in this mood, there indeed is a fork in the road, though ordinary travellers may see only a gap in the paling. His solitary path across lots will turn out the higher way of the two.
Howitt says of the man who found the great nugget which weighed twenty-eight pounds, at the Bendigo diggings in Australia: "He soon began to drink; got a horse, and rode all about, generally at full gallop, and, when he met people, called out to inquire if they knew who he was, and then kindly informed them that he was 'the bloody wretch that had found the nugget.' At last he rode full speed against a tree, and nearly knocked his brains out." I think, however, there was no danger of that, for he had already knocked his brains out against the nugget. Howitt adds, "He is a hopelessly ruined man." But he is a type of the class. They are all fast men. Hear some of the names of the places where they dig: "Jackass Flat"- "Sheep's-Head Gully"- "Murderer's Bar," etc. Is there no satire in these names? Let them carry their ill-gotten wealth where they will, I am thinking it will still be "Jackass Flat," if not "Murderer's Bar," where they live.
The last resource of our energy has been the robbing of graveyards on the Isthmus of Darien, an enterprise which appears to be but in its infancy; for, according to late accounts, an act has passed its second reading in the legislature of New Granada, regulating this kind of mining; and a correspondent of the "Tribune" writes: "In the dry season, when the weather will permit of the country being properly prospected, no doubt other rich guacas [that is, graveyards] will be found." To emigrants he says: "do not come before December; take the Isthmus route in preference to the Boca del Toro one; bring no useless baggage, and do not cumber yourself with a tent; but a good pair of blankets will be necessary; a pick, shovel, and axe of good material will be almost all that is required": advice which might have been taken from the "Burker's Guide." And he concludes with this line in Italics and small capitals: "If you are doing well at home, STAY THERE," which may fairly be interpreted to mean, "If you are getting a good living by robbing graveyards at home, stay there."
But why go to California for a text? She is the child of New England, bred at her own school and church.
It is remarkable that among all the preachers there are so few moral teachers. The prophets are employed in excusing the ways of men. Most reverend seniors, the illuminati of the age, tell me, with a gracious, reminiscent smile, betwixt an aspiration and a shudder, not to be too tender about these things- to lump all that, that is, make a lump of gold of it. The highest advice I have heard on these subjects was grovelling. The burden of it was- It is not worth your while to undertake to reform the world in this particular. Do not ask how your bread is buttered; it will make you sick, if you do- and the like. A man had better starve at once than lose his innocence in the process of getting his bread. If within the sophisticated man there is not an unsophisticated one, then he is but one of the devil's angels. As we grow old, we live more coarsely, we relax a little in our disciplines, and, to some extent, cease to obey our finest instincts. But we should be fastidious to the extreme of sanity, disregarding the gibes of those who are more unfortunate than ourselves.
In our science and philosophy, even, there is commonly no true and absolute account of things. The spirit of sect and bigotry has planted its hoof amid the stars. You have only to discuss the problem, whether the stars are inhabited or not, in order to discover it. Why must we daub the heavens as well as the earth? It was an unfortunate discovery that Dr. Kane was a Mason, and that Sir John Franklin was another. But it was a more cruel suggestion that possibly that was the reason why the former went in search of the latter. There is not a popular magazine in this country that would dare to print a child's thought on important subjects without comment. It must be submitted to the D.D.'s. I would it were the chickadee-dees.
You come from attending the funeral of mankind to attend to a natural phenomenon. A little thought is sexton to all the world.
I hardly know an intellectual man, even, who is so broad and truly liberal that you can think aloud in his society. Most with whom you endeavor to talk soon come to a stand against some institution in which they appear to hold stock- that is, some particular, not universal, way of viewing things. They will continually thrust their own low roof, with its narrow skylight, between you and the sky, when it is the unobstructed heavens you would view. Get out of the way with your cobwebs; wash your windows, I say! In some lyceums they tell me that they have voted to exclude the subject of religion. But how do I know what their religion is, and when I am near to or far from it? I have walked into such an arena and done my best to make a clean breast of what religion I have experienced, and the audience never suspected what I was about. The lecture was as harmless as moonshine to them. Whereas, if I had read to them the biography of the greatest scamps in history, they might have thought that I had written the lives of the deacons of their church. Ordinarily, the inquiry is, Where did you come from? or, Where are you going? That was a more pertinent question which I overheard one of my auditors put to another one- "What does he lecture for?" It made me quake in my shoes.
To speak impartially, the best men that I know are not serene, a world in themselves. For the most part, they dwell in forms, and flatter and study effect only more finely than the rest. We select granite for the underpinning of our houses and barns; we build fences of stone; but we do not ourselves rest on an underpinning of granitic truth, the lowest primitive rock. Our sills are rotten. What stuff is the man made of who is not coexistent in our thought with the purest and subtilest truth? I often accuse my finest acquaintances of an immense frivolity; for, while there are manners and compliments we do not meet, we do not teach one another the lessons of honesty and sincerity that the brutes do, or of steadiness and solidity that the rocks do. The fault is commonly mutual, however; for we do not habitually demand any more of each other.
That excitement about Kossuth, consider how characteristic, but superficial, it was!- only another kind of politics or dancing. Men were making speeches to him all over the country, but each expressed only the thought, or the want of thought, of the multitude. No man stood on truth. They were merely banded together, as usual one leaning on another, and all together on nothing; as the Hindoos made the world rest on an elephant, the elephant on a tortoise, and the tortoise on a serpent, and had nothing to put under the serpent. For all fruit of that stir we have the Kossuth hat.
Just so hollow and ineffectual, for the most part, is our ordinary conversation. Surface meets surface. When our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip. We rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper, or been told by his neighbor; and, for the most part, the only difference between us and our fellow is that he has seen the newspaper, or been out to tea, and we have not. In proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post-office. You may depend on it, that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters, proud of his extensive correspondence, has not heard from himself this long while.
I do not know but it is too much to read one newspaper a week. I have tried it recently, and for so long it seems to me that I have not dwelt in my native region. The sun, the clouds, the snow, the trees say not so much to me. You cannot serve two masters. It requires more than a day's devotion to know and to possess the wealth of a day.
We may well be ashamed to tell what things we have read or heard in our day. I did not know why my news should be so trivial- considering what one's dreams and expectations are, why the developments should be so paltry. The news we hear, for the most part, is not news to our genius. It is the stalest repetition. You are often tempted to ask why such stress is laid on a particular experience which you have had- that, after twenty-five years, you should meet Hobbins, Registrar of Deeds, again on the sidewalk. Have you not budged an inch, then? Such is the daily news. Its facts appear to float in the atmosphere, insignificant as the sporules of fungi, and impinge on some neglected thallus, or surface of our minds, which affords a basis for them, and hence a parasitic growth. We should wash ourselves clean of such news. Of what consequence, though our planet explode, if there is no character involved in the explosion? In health we have not the least curiosity about such events. We do not live for idle amusement. I would not run round a corner to see the world blow up.
All summer, and far into the autumn, perchance, you unconsciously went by the newspapers and the news, and now you find it was because the morning and the evening were full of news to you. Your walks were full of incidents. You attended, not to the affairs of Europe, but to your own affairs in Massachusetts fields. If you chance to live and move and have your being in that thin stratum in which the events that make the news transpire- thinner than the paper on which it is printed- then these things will fill the world for you; but if you soar above or dive below that plane, you cannot remember nor be reminded of them. Really to see the sun rise or go down every day, so to relate ourselves to a universal fact, would preserve us sane forever. Nations! What are nations? Tartars, and Huns, and Chinamen! Like insects, they swarm. The historian strives in vain to make them memorable. It is for want of a man that there are so many men. It is individuals that populate the world. Any man thinking may say with the Spirit of Lodin-
Pleasant are the great fields of my rest."
Not without a slight shudder at the danger, I often perceive how near I had come to admitting into my mind the details of some trivial affair- the news of the street; and I am astonished to observe how willing men are to lumber their minds with such rubbish- to permit idle rumors and incidents of the most insignificant kind to intrude on ground which should be sacred to thought. Shall the mind be a public arena, where the affairs of the street and the gossip of the tea-table chiefly are discussed? Or shall it be a quarter of heaven itself- an hypaethral temple, consecrated to the service of the gods? I find it so difficult to dispose of the few facts which to me are significant, that I hesitate to burden my attention with those which are insignificant, which only a divine mind could illustrate. Such is, for the most part, the news in newspapers and conversation. It is important to preserve the mind's chastity in this respect. Think of admitting the details of a single case of the criminal court into our thoughts, to stalk profanely through their very sanctum sanctorum for an hour, ay, for many hours! to make a very bar-room of the mind's inmost apartment, as if for so long the dust of the street had occupied us- the very street itself, with all its travel, its bustle, and filth, had passed through our thoughts' shrine! Would it not be an intellectual and moral suicide? When I have been compelled to sit spectator and auditor in a court-room for some hours, and have seen my neighbors, who were not compelled, stealing in from time to time, and tiptoeing about with washed hands and faces, it has appeared to my mind's eye, that, when they took off their hats, their ears suddenly expanded into vast hoppers for sound, between which even their narrow heads were crowded. Like the vanes of windmills, they caught the broad but shallow stream of sound, which, after a few titillating gyrations in their coggy brains, passed out the other side. I wondered if, when they got home, they were as careful to wash their ears as before their hands and faces. It has seemed to me, at such a time, that the auditors and the witnesses, the jury and the counsel, the judge and the criminal at the bar- if I may presume him guilty before he is convicted- were all equally criminal, and a thunderbolt might be expected to descend and consume them all together.
By all kinds of traps and signboards, threatening the extreme penalty of the divine law, exclude such trespassers from the only ground which can be sacred to you. It is so hard to forget what it is worse than useless to remember! If I am to be a thoroughfare, I prefer that it be of the mountain brooks, the Parnassian streams, and not the town sewers. There is inspiration, that gossip which comes to the ear of the attentive mind from the courts of heaven. There is the profane and stale revelation of the bar-room and the police court. The same ear is fitted to receive both communications. Only the character of the hearer determines to which it shall be open, and to which closed. I believe that the mind can be permanently profaned by the habit of attending to trivial things, so that all our thoughts shall be tinged with triviality. Our very intellect shall be macadamized, as it were- its foundation broken into fragments for the wheels of travel to roll over; and if you would know what will make the most durable pavement, surpassing rolled stones, spruce blocks, and asphaltum, you have only to look into some of our minds which have been subjected to this treatment so long.
If we have thus desecrated ourselves- as who has not?- the remedy will be by wariness and devotion to reconsecrate ourselves, and make once more a fane of the mind. We should treat our minds, that is, ourselves, as innocent and ingenuous children, whose guardians we are, and be careful what objects and what subjects we thrust on their attention. Read not the Times. Read the Eternities. Conventionalities are at length as had as impurities. Even the facts of science may dust the mind by their dryness, unless they are in a sense effaced each morning, or rather rendered fertile by the dews of fresh and living truth. Knowledge does not come to us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven. Yes, every thought that passes through the mind helps to wear and tear it, and to deepen the ruts, which, as in the streets of Pompeii, evince how much it has been used. How many things there are concerning which we might well deliberate whether we had better know them- had better let their peddling-carts be driven, even at the slowest trot or walk, over that bride of glorious span by which we trust to pass at last from the farthest brink of time to the nearest shore of eternity! Have we no culture, no refinement- but skill only to live coarsely and serve the Devil?- to acquire a little worldly wealth, or fame, or liberty, and make a false show with it, as if we were all husk and shell, with no tender and living kernel to us? Shall our institutions be like those chestnut burs which contain abortive nuts, perfect only to prick the fingers?
America is said to be the arena on which the battle of freedom is to be fought; but surely it cannot be freedom in a merely political sense that is meant. Even if we grant that the American has freed himself from a political tyrant, he is still the slave of an economical and moral tyrant. Now that the republic- the respublica- has been settled, it is time to look after the res-privata- the private state- to see, as the Roman senate charged its consuls, "ne quid res-PRIVATA detrimenti caperet," that the private state receive no detriment.
Do we call this the land of the free? What is it to be free from King George and continue the slaves of King Prejudice? What is it to be born free and not to live free? What is the value of any political freedom, but as a means to moral freedom? Is it a freedom to be slaves, or a freedom to be free, of which we boast? We are a nation of politicians, concerned about the outmost defences only of freedom. It is our children's children who may perchance be really free. We tax ourselves unjustly. There is a part of us which is not represented. It is taxation without representation. We quarter troops, we quarter fools and cattle of all sorts upon ourselves. We quarter our gross bodies on our poor souls, till the former eat up all the latter's substance.
With respect to a true culture and manhood, we are essentially provincial still, not metropolitan- mere Jonathans. We are provincial, because we do not find at home our standards; because we do not worship truth, but the reflection of truth; because we are warped and narrowed by an exclusive devotion to trade and commerce and manufactures and agriculture and the like, which are but means, and not the end.
So is the English Parliament provincial. Mere country bumpkins, they betray themselves, when any more important question arises for them to settle, the Irish question, for instance- the English question why did I not say? Their natures are subdued to what they work in. Their "good breeding" respects only secondary objects. The finest manners in the world are awkwardness and fatuity when contrasted with a finer intelligence. They appear but as the fashions of past days- mere courtliness, knee-buckles and small-clothes, out of date. It is the vice, but not the excellence of manners, that they are continually being deserted by the character; they are cast-off-clothes or shells, claiming the respect which belonged to the living creature. You are presented with the shells instead of the meat, and it is no excuse generally, that, in the case of some fishes, the shells are of more worth than the meat. The man who thrusts his manners upon me does as if he were to insist on introducing me to his cabinet of curiosities, when I wished to see himself. It was not in this sense that the poet Decker called Christ "the first true gentleman that ever breathed." I repeat that in this sense the most splendid court in Christendom is provincial, having authority to consult about Transalpine interests only, and not the affairs of Rome. A praetor or proconsul would suffice to settle the questions which absorb the attention of the English Parliament and the American Congress.
Government and legislation! these I thought were respectable professions. We have heard of heaven-born Numas, Lycurguses, and Solons, in the history of the world, whose names at least may stand for ideal legislators; but think of legislating to regulate the breeding of slaves, or the exportation of tobacco! What have divine legislators to do with the exportation or the importation of tobacco? what humane ones with the breeding of slaves? Suppose you were to submit the question to any son of God- and has He no children in the Nineteenth Century? is it a family which is extinct?- in what condition would you get it again? What shall a State like Virginia say for itself at the last day, in which these have been the principal, the staple productions? What ground is there for patriotism in such a State? I derive my facts from statistical tables which the States themselves have published.
A commerce that whitens every sea in quest of nuts and raisins, and makes slaves of its sailors for this purpose! I saw, the other day, a vessel which had been wrecked, and many lives lost, and her cargo of rags, juniper berries, and bitter almonds were strewn along the shore. It seemed hardly worth the while to tempt the dangers of the sea between Leghorn and New York for the sake of a cargo of juniper berries and bitter almonds. America sending to the Old World for her bitters! Is not the sea-brine, is not shipwreck, bitter enough to make the cup of life go down here? Yet such, to a great extent, is our boasted commerce; and there are those who style themselves statesmen and philosophers who are so blind as to think that progress and civilization depend on precisely this kind of interchange and activity- the activity of flies about a molasses- hogshead. Very well, observes one, if men were oysters. And very well, answer I, if men were mosquitoes.
Lieutenant Herndon, whom our government sent to explore the Amazon, and, it is said, to extend the area of slavery, observed that there was wanting there "an industrious and active population, who know what the comforts of life are, and who have artificial wants to draw out the great resources of the country." But what are the "artificial wants" to be encouraged? Not the love of luxuries, like the tobacco and slaves of, I believe, his native Virginia, nor the ice and granite and other material wealth of our native New England; nor are "the great resources of a country" that fertility or barrenness of soil which produces these. The chief want, in every State that I have been into, was a high and earnest purpose in its inhabitants. This alone draws out "the great resources" of Nature, and at last taxes her beyond her resources; for man naturally dies out of her. When we want culture more than potatoes, and illumination more than sugar-plums, then the great resources of a world are taxed and drawn out, and the result, or staple production, is, not slaves, nor operatives, but men- those rare fruits called heroes, saints, poets, philosophers, and redeemers.
In short, as a snow-drift is formed where there is a lull in the wind, so, one would say, where there is a lull of truth, an institution springs up. But the truth blows right on over it, nevertheless, and at length blows it down.
What is called politics is comparatively something so superficial and inhuman, that practically I have never fairly recognized that it concerns me at all. The newspapers, I perceive, devote some of their columns specially to politics or government without charge; and this, one would say, is all that saves it; but as I love literature and to some extent the truth also, I never read those columns at any rate. I do not wish to blunt my sense of right so much. I have not got to answer for having read a single President's Message. A strange age of the world this, when empires, kingdoms, and republics come a-begging to a private man's door, and utter their complaints at his elbow! I cannot take up a newspaper but I find that some wretched government or other, hard pushed and on its last legs, is interceding with me, the reader, to vote for it- more importunate than an Italian beggar; and if I have a mind to look at its certificate, made, perchance, by some benevolent merchant's clerk, or the skipper that brought it over, for it cannot speak a word of English itself, I shall probably read of the eruption of some Vesuvius, or the overflowing of some Po, true or forged, which brought it into this condition. I do not hesitate, in such a case, to suggest work, or the almshouse; or why not keep its castle in silence, as I do commonly? The poor President, what with preserving his popularity and doing his duty, is completely bewildered. The newspapers are the ruling power. Any other government is reduced to a few marines at Fort Independence. If a man neglects to read the Daily Times, government will go down on its knees to him, for this is the only treason in these days.
Those things which now most engage the attention of men, as politics and the daily routine, are, it is true, vital functions of human society, but should be unconsciously performed, like the corresponding functions of the physical body. They are infrahuman, a kind of vegetation. I sometimes awake to a half-consciousness of them going on about me, as a man may become conscious of some of the processes of digestion in a morbid state, and so have the dyspepsia, as it is called. It is as if a thinker submitted himself to be rasped by the great gizzard of creation. Politics is, as it were, the gizzard of society, full of grit and gravel, and the two political parties are its two opposite halves- sometimes split into quarters, it may be, which grind on each other. Not only individuals, but states, have thus a confirmed dyspepsia, which expresses itself, you can imagine by what sort of eloquence. Thus our life is not altogether a forgetting, but also, alas! to a great extent, a remembering, of that which we should never have been conscious of, certainly not in our waking hours. Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our had dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? I do not make an exorbitant demand, surely.

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