John Lancaster Spalding

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A taste for the best books, as a taste for whatever is best, is acquired; and it can be acquired only by long study and practice. It is a result of free and disinterested self-activity, of efforts to attain what rarely brings other reward than the consciousness of having loved and striven for the best.

John Lancaster Spalding (June 2, 1840August 25, 1916) was the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria from 1877 to 1908, a notable scholarly writer of the time and, a co-founder of The Catholic University of America.

Sourced[edit]

Means and Ends of Education (1895)[edit]

  • The strong man is he who knows how and is able to become and be himself; the magnanimous man is he who, being strong, knows how and is able to issue forth from himself, as from a fortress, to guide, protect, encourage, and save others.
    • Chapter 1 "Truth and Love"
  • However firmly thou holdest to thy opinions, if truth appears on the opposite side, throw down thy arms at once.
    • Chapter 1 "Truth and Love"
  • The world is chiefly a mental fact. From mind it receives the forms of time and space, the principle of casuality[sic], color, warmth, and beauty. Were there no mind, there would be no world.
    • Chapter 1 "Truth and Love"

Aphorisms and Reflections (1901)[edit]

Full Text Online
  • Each one fashions and bears his world with him, and that unless he himself become wise, strong and loving, no change in his circumstances can make him rich or free or happy.
    • p. 5
  • True readers … are ready to go through a whole volume, if there be but hope of finding in it a single genuine thought or the mere suggestion even of a truth which has some fresh application to life.
    • p. 7
  • The multitude are matter-of-fact. They live in commonplace concerns and interests. Their problems are, how to get more plentiful and better food and drink, more comfortable and beautiful clothing, more commodious dwellings, for themselves and their children. When they seek relaxation from their labors for material things, they gossip of the daily happenings, or they play games or dance or go to the theatre or club, or they travel or they read story books, or accounts in the newspapers of elections, murders, peculations, marriages, divorces, failures and successes in business; or they simply sit in a kind of lethargy. They fall asleep and awake to tread again the beaten path. While such is their life, it is not possible that they should take interest or find pleasure in religion, poetry, philosophy, or art. To ask them to read books whose life-breath is pure thought and beauty is as though one asked them to read things written in a language they do not understand and have no desire to learn. A taste for the best books, as a taste for whatever is best, is acquired; and it can be acquired only by long study and practice. It is a result of free and disinterested self-activity, of efforts to attain what rarely brings other reward than the consciousness of having loved and striven for the best. But the many have little appreciation of what does not flatter or soothe the senses. Their world, like the world of children and animals, is good enough for them; meat and drink, dance and song, are worth more, in their eyes, than all the thoughts of all the literatures. A love tale is better than a great poem, and the story of a bandit makes Plutarch seem tiresome. This is what they think and feel, and what, so long as they remain what they are, they will continue to think and feel. We do not urge a child to read Plato—why should we find fault with the many for not loving the best books?
    • pp. 11-12
  • The test of the worth of work is its effect on the worker. If it degrade him, it is bad; if it ennoble him, it is good.
    • 12
  • In the world of thought a man’s rank is determined, not by his average work, but by his highest achievement.
    • p. 13
  • It is held that one fulfils his whole duty when he is industrious in his business or vocation, observing also the decencies of domestic, civil, and religious life. But activity of this kind stirs only the surface of our being, leaving what is most divine to starve; and when it is made the one important thing, men lose sense for what is high and holy, and become commonplace, mechanical, and hard. Science is valuable for them as a means to comfort and wealth; morality, as an aid to success; religion, as an agent of social order. In their eyes those who devote themselves to ideal aims and ends are as foolish as the alchemists, since the only real world is that of business and politics, or of business simply, since politics is business.
    • p. 14
  • Few know the joys that spring from a disinterested curiosity. It is like a cheerful spirit that leads us through worlds filled with what is true and fair, which we admire and love because it is true and fair.
    • p. 15
  • The fields and the flowers and the beautiful faces are not ours, as the stars and the hills and the sunlight are not ours, but they give us fresh and happy thoughts.|
    • p. 15
  • Passion is begotten of passion, and it easily happens, as with the children of great men, that the base is the offspring of the noble.
    • p. 16
  • Thy money, thy office, thy reputation are nothing; put away these phantom clothings, and stand like an athlete stripped for the battle.
    • p. 17
  • When the mind has grasped the matter, words come like flowers at the call of spring.
    • p. 17
  • It is unpleasant to turn back, though it be to take the right way.
    • p. 19
  • Though what we accept be true, it is a prejudice unless we ourselves have considered and understood why and how it is true.
    • p. 19
  • Taste, of which the proverb says there should be no dispute, is precisely the subject which needs discussion.
    • p. 20
  • God has not made a world which suits all; how shall a sane man expect to please all?
    • p. 20
  • We have lost the old love of work, of work which kept itself company, which was fair weather and music in the heart, which found its reward in the doing, craving neither the flattery of vulgar eyes nor the gold of vulgar men.
    • p. 21
  • No sooner does a divine gift reveal itself in youth or maid than its market value becomes the decisive consideration, and the poor young creatures are offered for sale, as we might sell angels who had strayed among us.
    • p. 21
  • As the visit of one we love makes the whole day pleasant, so is it illumined and made fair by a brave and beautiful thought.
    • p. 21
  • Friends humor and flatter us, they steal our time, they encourage our love of ease, they make us content with ourselves, they are the foes of our virtue and our glory.
    • p. 22
  • The important thing is how we know, not what or how much.
    • p. 22
  • To clothe truth in fitting words is to feel a satisfaction like that which comes of doing good deeds.
    • p. 23
  • In our thrifty populations of merchants, manufacturers, politicians, and professional men, there is little sense for beauty, little pure thought, little genuine culture; but they are prosperous and self-satisfied.
    • p. 24
  • The writers who accomplish most are those who compel thought on the highest and most profoundly interesting subjects.
    • p. 24
  • If thou need money, get it in an honest way—by keeping books, if thou wilt, but not by writing books.
    • p. 25
  • Drunkards and sensualists have become heroes and saints; but sluggards have never risen to the significance and worth of human beings. Sloth enfeebles the root of life, and degrades more surely, if less swiftly, than the sins of passion.
    • p. 26
  • The genius is childlike. Like children he looks into the world as into a new creation and finds there a perennial source of wonder and delight.
    • p. 27
  • We may outgrow the things of children, without acquiring sense and relish for those which become a man.
    • pp. 30-31
  • The world is a mirror into which we look, and see our own image.
    • p. 31
  • The teacher does best, not when he explains, but when he impels his pupils to seek themselves the explanation.
    • p. 31
  • The doctrine of the utter vanity of life is a doctrine of despair, and life is hope.
    • p. 32
  • It is not difficult to grasp and express thoughts that float on the stream of current opinion: but to think and rightly utter what is permanently true and interesting, what shall appeal to the best minds a thousand years hence, as it appeals to them to-day,—this is the work of genius.
    • p. 33
  • The narrow-minded and petty sticklers for the formalities which hedge rank and office are the true vulgarians, however observant they be of etiquette.
    • p. 34
  • Beauty least adorned is most adorned
    • p. 35
  • As our power over others increases, we become less free; for to retain it, we must make ourselves its servants.
    • p. 37
  • Love finds us young and keeps us so: immortal himself, he permits not age to enter the hearts where he reigns.
    • p. 39
  • They who truly know have had to unlearn hardly less than they have had to learn.

John Lancaster Spalding, Aphorisms and Reflections, p. 40

  • The best book is but the record of the best life.
    • p. 44
  • They who no longer believe in principles still proclaim them, to conceal, both from themselves and others, the selfishness of the motives by which they are dominated.
    • p. 46
  • If we attempt to sink the soul in matter, its light is quenched.
    • p. 52
  • O brave youth, how good for thee it were couldst thou be made to understand how infinitely precious are thy school years—years when thou hast leisure to grow, when new worlds break in upon thee, and thou fashionest thy being in the light of the ideals of truth and goodness and beauty! If now thou dost not fit thyself to become free and whole, thou shalt, when the doors of this fair mother-house of the mind, close behind thee, be driven into ways that lead to bondage, be compelled to do that which cripples and dwarfs; for the work whereby men gain a livelihood involves mental and moral mutilation, unless it be done in the spirit of religion and culture. Ah! well for thee, canst thou learn while yet there is time that it will profit thee nothing to become the possessor of millions, if the price thou payest is thy manhood.
    • pp. 58-59
  • If a state should pass laws forbidding its citizens to become wise and holy, it would be made a byword for all time. But this, in effect, is what our commercial, social, and political systems do. They compel the sacrifice of mental and moral power to money and dissipation.
    • p. 62
  • Faith, like love, unites; opinion, like hate, separates.
    • p. 64
  • It is more profitable to be mindful of our own faults than of those of our age.

John Lancaster Spalding, Aphorisms and Reflections, p. 67

  • The zest of life lies in right doing, not in the garnered harvest.
    • p. 71
  • When we have not the strength or the courage to grasp a new truth, we persuade ourselves that it is not a truth at all.
    • p. 72
  • We neglect the opportunities which are always present, and imagine that if those that are rare were offered, we should put them to good use. Thus we waste life waiting for what if it came we should be unprepared for.
    • p. 75
  • If thou wouldst be implacable, be so with thyself.
    • p. 76
  • Make thyself perfect; others, happy.
    • p. 76
  • Have as little suspicion as possible and conceal that.
    • p. 76
  • Obedience is not servility. On the contrary the servile are never rightly obedient.
    • p. 76
  • Liberty is more precious than money or office; and we should be vigilant lest we purchase wealth or place at the price of inner freedom.
    • p. 77
  • The study of law is valuable as a mental discipline, but the practice of pleading tends to make one petty, formal, and insincere. To be driven to look to legality rather than to equity blurs the view of truth and justice.
    • p. 78
  • There are faults which show heart and win hearts, while the virtue in which there is no love, repels.
    • p. 80
  • The exercise of authority is odious, and they who know how to govern, leave it in abeyance as much as possible.
    • p. 81
  • The weak, when they have authority, surround themselves with the weak. It is, indeed, a vice of rulers that men who have exceptional ability and worth are offensive to them, since they whose greatness is due to their position find it difficult to love those whom inner power makes great.

John Lancaster Spalding, Aphorisms and Reflections, p. 81

  • Those subjects have the greatest educational value, which are richest in incentives to the noblest self-activity.
    • p. 84
  • If thou hast sought happiness and missed it, but hast found wisdom instead, thou art fortunate.
    • p. 85
  • What matter that the man stands for much I cannot love—the moment he touches the realms of truth he enters my world and is my friend.
    • p. 89
  • They who can no longer unlearn have lost the power to learn.
    • p. 90
  • Education would be a divine thing, if it did nothing more than help us to think and love great thoughts instead of little thoughts.
    • p. 96
  • Let not what thou canst not prevent, though it be the ruin of thy home or country, draw thee from thy proper work.
    • p. 98
  • Rules of grammar can not give us a mastery of language, rules of rhetoric can not make us eloquent, rules of conduct can not make us good.
    • p. 103
  • To view an object in the proper light we must stand away from it. The study of the classical literatures gives the aloofness which cultivates insight. In learning to live with peoples and civilizations that have long ceased to be alive, we gain a vantage point, acquire an enlargement and elevation of thought, which enable us to study with a more impartial and liberal mind the condition of the society around us.
    • p. 106
  • Solitude is unbearable for those who can not bear themselves.
    • p. 108
  • They who see through the eyes of others are controlled by the will of others.
    • p. 108
  • The common man is impelled and controlled by interests; the superior, by ideas.
    • p. 113
  • The will—the one thing it is most important to educate—we neglect.
    • p. 113
  • Place before thyself the ideal of perfection, not that of happiness, for by doing what makes thee wiser and better, thou shalt find the peace and joy in which happiness consists.
    • p. 114
  • When pleasure is made a business, it ceases to be pleasure.
    • p. 115
  • Work, mental or manual, is the means whereby attention is compelled, it is the instrument of all knowledge and virtue, the root whence all excellence springs.
    • p. 116
  • Moral education is the development of individuality, and individuality can not be developed by formulas and mechanical processes: it is the work of the master who brings to his task a genuine and loving interest in the individual.
    • p. 116
  • To love the perfection with which we do our work, or the company of those with whom we work, is the secret of learning to love the work itself.
    • p. 117
  • What purifies the heart refines language.
    • p. 117
  • If thou wouldst help others deal with them as though they were what they should be
    • p. 119
  • The first requisite of a gentleman is to be true, brave and noble, and to be therefore a rebuke and scandal to venal and vulgar souls.
    • p. 120
  • Language should be pure, noble and graceful, as the body should be so: for both are vestures of the Soul.
    • p. 127
  • If there are but few who interest thee, why shouldst thou be disappointed if but few find thee interesting?
    • p. 127
  • We may avoid much disappointment and bitterness of soul by learning to understand how little necessary to our joy and peace are the things the multitude most desire and seek.
    • pp. 129-130
  • Since the mass of mankind are too ignorant or too indolent to think seriously, if majorities are right it is by accident.
    • p. 130
  • Whom little things occupy and keep busy, are little men.
    • p. 131
  • The ploughman knows how many acres he shall upturn from dawn to sunset: but the thinker knows not what a day may bring forth.
    • p. 136
  • Houses and fields in which we lived and played in childhood and youth with those we loved, grow to be part of our being. The sight of them in later years touches us with mystic charm. It is like a vision from beyond the tomb or a memory of a lost Paradise. But little by little their power over us grows less and the light that falls on them becomes more like the common day. Their sacredness diminishes, their beauty fades. The young birds have flown, the old are dead, the leaves and blossoms have fallen and but the empty nest is left among the naked boughs; and looking on the desolation we feel that we have no abiding place on earth, since the home itself loses its consecration.
    • p. 137
  • As they are the bravest who require no witnesses to their deeds of daring, so they are the best who do right without thinking whether or not it shall be known.
    • p. 139
  • They who admire and reverence noble and heroic men are akin to them.
    • p. 145
  • The able have no desire to appear to be so, and this is part of their ability.
    • p. 146
  • A principal aim of education is to give students a taste for literature, for the books of life and power, and to accomplish this, it is necessary that their minds be held aloof from the babblement and discussions of the hour, that they may accustom themselves to take interest in the words and deeds of the greatest men, and so make themselves able and worthy to shape a larger and nobler future; but if their hours of leisure are spent over journals and reviews, they will, in later years, become the helpless victims of the newspaper habit.
    • p. 148
  • If science were nothing more than the best means of teaching the love of the simple fact, the indispensable need of verification, of careful and accurate observation and statement, its value would be of the highest order.
    • p. 148
  • Break not the will of the young, but guide it to right ends.
    • p. 149
  • Conversation injures more than it benefits. Men talk to escape from themselves, from sheer dread of silence. Reflection makes them uncomfortable, and they find distraction in a noise of words. They seek not the company of those who might enlighten and improve them, but that of whoever can divert and amuse them. Thus the intercourse which ought to be a chief means of education, is for the most part, the occasion of mental and moral enfeeblement.
    • p. 155
  • If thou wouldst be interesting, keep thy personality in the background, and be great and strong in and through thy subject.
    • p. 156
  • No occupation is more tiresome or depressing than that of killing time. It is the cause of lifeweariness, the punishment the soul inflicts upon itself when reduced to passiveness and servitude.
    • p. 156
  • Beauty lies not in the things we see, but in the soul.
    • p. 158
  • When guests enter the room their entertainers rise to receive them; and in all meetings men should ascend into their higher selves, imparting to one another only the best they know and love.
    • p. 160
  • There are few things it is more important to learn than how to live on little and be therewith content: for the less we need what is without, the more leisure have we to live within.
    • p. 160
  • Perfection is beyond our reach, but they who earnestly strive to become perfect, acquire excellences and virtues of which the multitude have no conception.
    • p. 161
  • As display is vulgar, so fondness for jewelry is evidence of an uncultivated mind.
    • p. 163
  • We are made ridiculous less by our defects than by the affectation of qualities which are not ours.
    • p. 163
  • The highest strength is acquired not in overcoming the world, but in overcoming one’s self. Learn to be cruel to thyself, to withstand thy appetites, to bear thy sufferings, and thou shalt become free and able.
    • p. 164
  • The noblest are they who turning from the things the vulgar crave, seek the source of a blessed life in worlds to which the senses do not lead.
    • p. 164
  • If thy words are wise, they will not seem so to the foolish: if they are deep the shallow will not appreciate them. Think not highly of thyself, then, when thou art praised by many.
    • p. 164
  • Unless we consent to lack the common things which men call success, we shall hardly become heroes or saints, philosophers or poets.
    • p. 165
  • Great deeds and utterances are now so diluted with printer’s ink that we can no longer find a sage or saint. Our worthiest men are exhibited and bewritten until they are made as uninteresting as clowns.
    • p. 165
  • If truth make us not truthful, what service can it render us?
    • p. 165
  • It is difficult to be sure of our friends, but it is possible to be certain of our loyalty to them.
    • p. 166
  • It is not worth while to consider whether a truth be useful—it is enough that it is a truth.
    • p. 167
  • Mercenary is whoever thinks less of his work than of the money he receives for doing it; and social conditions which impose tasks that make this inevitable are barbarous.
    • p. 168
  • No pure delight cheers the farmer whose mind is intent on the price he shall get for his crops rather than on the joy there is in tilling them and seeing them grow and ripen: for such an one does not love the land nor his home nor any of the most beautiful and sacred things, but tends to become like the brute that eats and sleeps and dies. His thoughts are with what feeds the animal, and that which nourishes the human is hidden from him.
    • p. 168
  • Say not thou lackest talent. What talent had any of the greatest, but passionate faith in the efficacy of work?
    • p. 169
  • If we learn from those only, of whose lives and opinions we altogether approve, we shall have to turn from many of the highest and profoundest minds.
    • p. 170
  • Altruism is a barbarism. Love is the word.
    • p. 170
  • To how much lying, extravagance, hypocrisy and servilism does not the fear of ridicule lead? Human respect makes us cowards and slaves. It may deter from evil, but much oftener it drives to baseness. “We are too much afraid,” said Cato, “of death, exile and poverty.”
    • p. 171
  • When we know and love the best we are content to lack the approval of the many.
    • p. 171
  • Philosophers and theologians, like the vulgar, prefer contradiction to enlightenment. They refute one another more gladly than they learn from one another, as though man lived by shunning error and not by loving truth. Accept their formulas and they sink back into their easy chairs and comfortably doze.
    • p. 171-172
  • The power of free will is developed and confirmed by increasing the number of worthy motives which influence conduct.
    • p. 172
  • States of soul rightly expressed, as the poet expresses them in moments of pure inspiration, retain forever the power of creating like states. It is this that makes genuine literature a vital force.
    • p. 172
  • The mind perceives … that it is higher than institutions, which are but the woof and web of its thought and will, which it weaves and outgrows, and weaves again.
    • p. 176
  • If thou canst not hold the golden mean, say and do too little rather than too much.
    • p. 178
  • Dislike of another’s opinions and beliefs neither justifies our own nor makes us more certain of them: and to transfer the repugnance to the person himself is a mark of a vulgar mind.
    • p. 180
  • The common prejudice against philosophy is the result of the incapacity of the multitude to deal with the highest problems.
    • p. 180
  • The lover of education labors first of all to educate himself.
    • p. 180
  • What is greatly desired, but long deferred, gives little pleasure, when at length it is ours, for we have lived with it in imagination until we have grown weary of it, having ourselves, in the meanwhile, become other.
    • pp. 180-181
  • If ancient descent could confer nobility, the lower forms of life would possess it in a greater degree than man.
    • p. 181
  • The seeking for truth is better than its loveless possession.
    • p. 182
  • The smaller the company, the larger the conversation.
    • p. 182
  • How is it possible not to strive to know what the awakening minds of the young are eager to learn from us? It is little less than criminal that we should put them off with foolish speech or lies.
    • pp. 183-184
  • When we have attained success, we see how inferior it is to the hope, yearning and enthusiasm with which we started forth in life’s morning.
    • p. 185
  • The pessimist writes over the gates of life what the poet has inscribed on the portals of hell—”Abandon hope, ye who enter here.”
    • p. 189
  • Not to be able to utter one’s thought without giving offence, is to lack culture.
    • p. 192
  • Nothing requires so little mental effort as to narrate or follow a story. Hence everybody tells stories and the readers of stories outnumber all others.
    • p. 193
  • To secure approval one must remain within the bounds of conventional mediocrity. Whatever lies beyond, whether it be greater insight and virtue, or greater stolidity and vice, is condemned. The noblest men, like the worst criminals, have been done to death.
    • p. 196
  • Culture makes the whole world our dwelling place; our palace in which we take our ease and find ourselves at one with all things.
    • p. 197
  • Base thy life on principle, not on rules.
    • p. 199
  • Reform the world within thyself, which is thy proper world.
    • p. 199
  • The happiness of the ignorant is but an animal’s paradise.
    • p. 199
  • We truly know only what we have taught ourselves.
    • p. 201
  • Insight makes argument ridiculous.
    • p. 201
  • A great man, who lives intimately with his admirers, with difficulty escapes being made ridiculous.
    • p. 202
  • What we acquire with joy, we possess with indifference.
    • p. 202
  • It is a large part of learning to know what one wants, and where it may be found in its most authentic form.
    • p. 202
  • Be watchful lest thou lose the power of desiring and loving what appeals to the soul—this is the miser’s curse—this the chain and ball the sensualist drags.
    • p. 203
  • There are who mistake the spirit of pugnacity for the spirit of piety, and thus harbor a devil instead of an angel.
    • p. 204
  • A gentleman does not appear to know more or to be more than those with whom he is thrown into company.
    • p. 204
  • The innocence which is simply ignorance is not virtue.
    • p. 207
  • When one sense has been bribed the others readily bear false witness.
    • p. 207
  • When the crowd acclaims its favorites it applauds itself.
    • p. 208
  • What we enjoy, not what we possess, is ours, and in labouring for the possession of many things, we lose the power to enjoy the best.
    • p. 208
  • In giving us dominion over the animal kingdom God has signified His will that we subdue the beast within ourselves.
    • p. 208
  • It is the tendency of the study of science to make us patient, humble and attentive to the smallest things. Is not this part of religion?
    • p. 208
  • The disinterested love of truth which culture fosters is akin to the unselfishness which is a characteristic of the good.
    • p. 212
  • If our opinions rest upon solid ground, those who attack them do not make us angry, but themselves ridiculous.
    • p. 215
  • Folly will run its course and it is the part of wisdom not to take it too seriously.
    • p. 216
  • As we can not love what is hateful, let us accustom ourselves neither to think nor to speak of disagreeable things and persons.
    • p. 220
  • To think of education as a means of preserving institutions however excellent, is to have a superficial notion of its end and purpose, which is to mould and fashion men who are more than institutions, who create, outgrow, and re-create them.
    • p. 221
  • He who leaves school, knowing little, but with a longing for knowledge, will go farther than one who quits, knowing many things, but not caring to learn more.
    • p. 223
  • Each individual bears within himself an ideal man, and to bring him forth in perfect form is his divinely imposed life-work.
    • p. 226
  • More inspiring and interesting teaching alone can make progress in education possible: for such teaching alone has power to produce greater self-activity, greater concentration of mind, greater desire to learn not only how to get a living, but how to live.
    • p. 226
  • There is some lack either of sense or of character in one who becomes involved in difficulties with the worthless or the vicious.
    • p. 226
  • As a brave man goes into fire or flood or pestilence to save a human life, so a generous mind follows after truth and love, and is not frightened from the pursuit by danger or toil or obloquy.
    • p. 227
  • The test of the worth of a school is not the amount of knowledge it imparts, but the self-activity it calls forth.
    • p. 227
  • It is the business of culture to make us able to consider with intelligent interest all real opinions, even those we do not and can not accept.
    • p. 229
  • To think profoundly, to seek and speak truth, to love justice and denounce wrong is to draw upon one’s self the ill will of many.
    • p. 230
  • We shrink from the contemplation of our dead bodies, forgetting that when dead they are no longer ours, and concern us as little as the hairs that have fallen from our heads.
    • p. 230
  • The aim of education is to strengthen and multiply the powers and activities of the mind rather than to increase its possessions.
    • p. 230
  • Where it is the chief aim to teach many things, little education is given or received.
    • p. 232
  • In education, as in religion and love, compulsion thwarts the purpose for which it is employed.
    • p. 233
  • What a wise man knows seems so plain and simple to himself that he easily makes the mistake of thinking it to be so for others.
    • p. 233
  • Inferior thinking and writing will make a name for a man among inferior people, who in all ages and countries, are the majority.
    • p. 233
  • One may speak Latin and have but the mind of a peasant.
    • p. 234
  • A liberal education is that which aims to develop faculty without ulterior views of profession or other means of gaining a livelihood. It considers man an end in himself and not an instrument whereby something is to be wrought. Its ideal is human perfection.
    • p. 234
  • Believe in no triumph which is won by the deadening of human faculty or the dwarfing of human life. Strive for truth and love, not for victory.
    • pp. 234-235
  • We do not find it hard to bear with ourselves, though we are full of faults. Why then may we not learn to be tolerant of others?
    • p. 238
  • Exercise of body and exercise of mind are supplementary, and both may be made recreative and educative.
    • p. 239
  • We have no sympathy with those who are controlled by ideas and passions which we neither understand nor feel. Thus they who live to satisfy the appetites do not believe it possible to live in and for the soul.
    • pp. 239-240
  • To cultivate the memory we should confide to it only what we understand and love: the rest is a useless burden; for simply to know by rote is not to know at all.
    • p. 240
  • If we fail to interest, whether because we are dull and heavy, or because our hearers are so, we teach in vain.
    • p. 241
  • They whom trifles distract and nothing occupies are but children.
    • p. 241
  • As the savages whom we have instructed are ready when left to themselves to return to their ancestral mode of life, so our young people quickly forget what they have learned at school, and sink back into the commonplace existence from which a right education would have saved them.
    • p. 241
  • The study of science, dissociated from that of philosophy and literature, narrows the mind and weakens the power to love and follow the noblest ideals: for the truths which science ignores and must ignore are precisely those which have the deepest bearing on life and conduct.
    • p. 241
  • It is the business of the teacher … to fortify reason and to make conscience sovereign.
    • p. 242
  • Thought from which no emotion springs is sterile. The knowledge that has no bearing on the conduct of life is vain.
    • p. 243
  • We do not see rightly until we learn to eliminate what we expect or wish to see from what we really see.
    • p. 244
  • As children must have the hooping cough, the college youth must pass through the stage of conceit in which he holds in slight esteem the wisdom of the best.
    • p. 245
  • A hobby is the result of a distorted view of things. It is putting a planet in the place of a sun.
    • p. 245
  • The more we live with what we imagine others think of us, the less we live with truth.
    • p. 246
  • If we are disappointed that men give little heed to what we utter is it for their sake or our own?
    • p. 246
  • If thy friends tire of thee, remember that it is human to tire of everything.
    • p. 254
  • Be content that others have position, if thou hast ability: that others have riches, if thou hast virtue.
    • p. 255
  • They who think they know all, learn nothing.
    • p. 257
  • If the young are watched too closely, if they are kept habitually under surveillance, the spring of action is weakened, the power of initiative is destroyed, and they become mediocre, commonplace, mechanical men and women, from whom nothing excellent or distinguished may be expected. Parents and teachers … must so deal with the young as to bring them little by little under the control of reason and conscience; and in this, nothing thwarts more surely than excessive supervision, for it draws attention from the inner view and voice to the eyes of the watchers. It may cultivate a love of decency and propriety, but not the creative feeling that we live with God and that righteousness is life.
    • p. 257-258
  • Agitators and declaimers may heat the blood, but they do not illumine the mind.
    • p. 261
  • Wouldst thou bestow some precious gift upon thy fellows, make thyself a noble man.
    • p. 263
  • The best money can procure for thee is freedom to live in thy true self. It is more apt however to enslave than to liberate. It is good also when thou makest it a means to help thy fellow men; but here too it is easier to harm than to benefit: for the money thou givest another is useful to him only when it stimulates him to self-activity.
    • p. 265
  • The value of a mind is measured by the nature of the objects it habitually contemplates. They whose thoughts are of trifles are trifling: they who dwell with what is eternally true, good and fair, are like unto God.
    • p. 268
  • It is the expensiveness of our pleasures that makes the world poor and keeps us poor in ourselves. If we could but learn to find enjoyment in the things of the mind, the economic problems would solve themselves.
    • p. 269
  • A Wise man knows that much of what he says and does is commonplace and trivial. His thoughts are not all solemn and sacred in his own eyes. He is able to laugh at himself and is not offended when others make him a subject whereon to exercise their wit.
    • p. 270
  • We are not masters of the truth which is borne in upon us: it overpowers us.
    • p. 273
  • What we think out for ourselves forms channels in which other thoughts will flow.
    • p. 274
  • It is a common error to imagine that to be stirring and voluble in a worthy cause is to be good and to do good.
    • p. 274
  • When with all thy heart thou strivest to live with truth and love, couldst thou do anything better? … If this be thy life, thou shalt not deem it a misfortune to lack the things men most crave and toil for.
    • p. 276

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